Looking at North River from Nelson Memorial Forest

Fields at Phillips Farm Preserve

Old stone walls at Phillips Farm Preserve


Sunset on North River looking out from Nelson Memorial Forest

Phillips Farm Preserve - Marshfield, MA

Location:

Off Union Street

Area:

40 acres

Purchased:

Through the generosity of multiple donors, 1999

Directions:

Take Rt. 3 to Exit 12, east onto Rt. 139. Turn left at lights onto Union Street. Continue north three miles; bear left and continue on Union Street at the junction of Union and Highland. Google Map Directions here

Parking:

Park on westerly side of Union Street in designated area on Cornhill Woodland. Phillips Farm Preserve trailhead access is directly across from parking area. The Town of Marshfield has an additional parking area just ahead on right. Trailhead leads into the Union Street Woodland and contiguous trails take you into Nelson Memorial Forest, Phillips Farm Preserve and Cove Creek Nature Area.

Located uphill from the North River and contiguous with four other protected natural areas, the Phillips Farm Preserve is at the heart of an area in which you’ll find an abundance of natural and historical resources. The Phillips family, original settlers, owned the farm for over 150 years. Although the preserve can be walked in ½ hour, a trail network through adjacent reservations invites longer hikes. Tidal marshes along the river are some of the last intact habitats for long-billed marsh wren.

A short distance from the parking area, across the street an old cart path leads into the Phillips Farm Preserve. (The path straight ahead connects to trails at Nelson Memorial Forest.) The woodlands along the path are wet, and to the east a stream rises and flows to the North River. 

Listen for scarlet tanagers, hermit thrushes, red-eyed vireos, blue-gray gnatcatchers, eastern wood peewees, and other forest interior birds. As you walk, you may hear the music of the wind moving through the large white pines or inhale the intense fragrance of sweet pepperbush, which blooms in late July. Fall brings visual delights as first the tupelos and then the swamp maples of this mixed hardwood forest splash brilliant red across the landscape. The evergreen hollies sparkle in the gray winter landscape.

Emerging from the woods, the path enters a meadow where butterflies, bluebirds, and tree swallows may be seen in summer. Also in the summer, Baltimore checkerspot butterflies can be found here. Infrequently mowed open fields are ideally suited to support both the larvae and adults of this attractive insect.

Across the meadow, the path ends at a stonewall along Highland Street, a good spot to rest and scan the rural landscape. Without Phillips Farm, four other properties — Cornhill Woodland, Union Street Woodland, Tilden Farm, and Nelson Memorial Forest — could not have been linked by trail. The preserve was purchased with the support of South Shore residents who value the historic country vistas, farm meadows, classic farmhouses, and stone walls of North Marshfield.