Phillips Farm Preserve - Marshfield, MA
Through the generosity of multiple donors, 1999
Located uphill from the North River and contiguous with four other protected natural areas, 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 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.