Hike past a former mill pond, cross a wetlands boardwalk, and explore a forest of pine and oak on your way to a boathouse on the banks of the tidal North River.
In the 1920s, Albert and Eleanor Norris began purchasing land along the North River, a National Natural Landmark and a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Scenic River, and the center of Colonial-era shipbuilding in New England. The couple eventually built a cottage, cut a trail system, opened up the shady forest to attract wildflowers and ferns, and created a haven for woodland and riverside wildlife, where white pines and oaks mingle with salt marsh and a millpond.
Choose from several loop or out-and-back routes along carriage roads padded with generations of pine needles; reaching the lovely curve in the North River is ample reward. Stop at the boathouse or at an overlook bench and wait for the wading birds, hawks, and kingfishers—and the occasional boater—to pass by. Look for crumbling beaver dams in the wetlands or listen for an owl’s hoot. Trout rise in the millpond beyond the parking lot, while striped bass course along the North River on the far edge of the property. In between, treetop birds and wetland frogs compete in a songfest.
Free to all.
When to Visit
Daily, sunrise to sunset.
Norwell, MA 02061
From Rt. 3, take Exit 32 onto Rt. 53 North. Follow for 0.6 mi. Turn right onto Rt. 123 (Main St.) and follow for 3 mi. towards Norwell center. Just before entering town center, turn right onto West St. and follow for 0.3 mi. until it dead ends into Dover St. Entrance and parking area (12 cars) are straight ahead on Dover St.
The South Shore’s second annual Reindeer Quest returns to Norris Reservation from January 16–February 27. Search the trail for all six reindeer, home-made by local scout troops!
Boat House overlooking North River (tie-ups not permitted).
Free trail map distributed from bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out.
We recommend that you take a photo of the map on your phone so you can refer to it during your visit, or download a trail map before you head out.
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Shipbuilders operated on the North River within 30 years of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth, 20 miles south. Over the next two centuries, the river and the communities it flowed through would comprise a major center of New England maritime industry. More than a thousand boats were built along the North’s banks, until after the Civil War. During that era, the land where the Norris Reservation now sits and adjacent properties supported several shipyards.
"Norris Woods is delightful. Trails are varied, most are wide and flat and some take you by ponds, woods and the beautiful North River. Always friendly people usually walking dogs. Parking can be tricky as the lot is small but it is beautifully maintained by the TTOR."
– Traveljmr, TripAdvisor
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