Whitney and Thayer Woods
Find Your Place
Whitney and Thayer Woods Hingham & Cohasset, MA
824 acres

About Whitney and Thayer Woods

Step back in time to woodlands dotted with glacial erratics and vernal pools featuring bridges over streams, carefully sited benches, a hermit’s shelter, and secluded holly grove.

What makes Whitney and Thayer Woods a special place?
We think it’s the 10 miles of carriage roads along which you can amble through resurgent hardwood forests to open fields and spectacular vistas of the South Shore and Boston skyline. Look for solitary boulders left by the last ice age and explore a hermit’s cave along the way. Cross the street to family-friendly Weir River Farm where you and your kids can get up-close to horses, sheep, and chickens.

Along the 10 miles of trails you’ll find the Milliken Memorial Path, which is lined with rhododendrons, azaleas, and other bright, blooming shrubs from more southerly climes. Planted in the late 1920s, the serene pathway was dedicated in memory of Mabel Minott Milliken by her husband, Arthur N. Milliken.

You’ll also see several glacial erratics that dot the landscape, including a grouping called Ode’s Den, named after Theodore “Ode” Pritchard, who lived under one of the boulders after losing his home in 1830. Bigelow Boulder honors the author of the first volume of The Narrative History of Cohasset. The American holly grove is a delightful spot, though it’s a little off the beaten path and might be too far for young children.

The 62-acre Turkey Hill is co-managed with the Towns of Cohasset and Hingham. Its 187-foot summit affords spectacular views. A cinderblock NIKE building is all that remains of an anti-missile radar control station sited here during the Cold War to thwart potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

The fields atop Turkey Hill and at adjacent Weir River Farm are annually mowed and otherwise maintained as an ongoing effort to restore grassland birds species, including bobolink and meadowlark, to this part of the reservation. In 2006, additional tree removal took place at the farm to further this goal.

Trails
10 miles of trails including the Milliken Memorial path, a “wild garden” that was created in the late 1920s by Mabel Minott Milliken. Moderate hiking.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting Weir River Farm.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Dogs must be under voice control or kept on a leash at all times.

  • Mountain biking is permitted only on designated trails.

  • Due to the size of the reservation and its complex system of trails, please consult a trail map before setting out.

Directions

Route 3A
Cohasset and Hingham, MA 02043
Telephone: 781.740.7233
Email: greaterboston@ttor.org

Latitude: 42.2341
Longitude: -70.8238

Get directions on Google Maps.

Whitney and Thayer Woods Main Parking Area:
From Rt. 3 (exit 14), take Rt. 228  North for 6.5 mi. through Hingham. Turn right onto Rt. 3A east and follow for 2 mi. to entrance and parking (20 cars) on right.

Turkey Hill Parking Areas:
Top of Turkey Hill: Turn right onto Leavitt St. off Rt. 228 just before reaching Hingham Town Library. Follow for 0.6 mi., bear left onto Turkey Hill Ln., and follow to dead end. Entrance and parking (5 cars) on left.
Base of Turkey Hill: Follow directions to main parking area, but follow Rt. 3A only 0.2 mi. to entrance and parking (8 cars) on right.

Admission

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting Weir River Farm.

Admission Fees & Permits
Free to all. On-site donation welcome from nonmembers.

Property History

The thick mix of hardwoods and pines that dominate Whitney and Thayer Woods is typical of the history of the region’s terrain since Colonial times: fields and pasturage once plowed by farmers and now re-populated with trees. When known as the “Common Lands of the Hingham Planters” in the mid-17th century, the land was divided into long strips, set off by stone walls and cleared by settlers for wood fuel, logging, and farming. (Many of the walls or their remnants can be spied from the cart paths and foot trails.) Over the next two centuries, most of the trees were cut down, but as present-day visitors immediately realize, Mother Nature steps in when fields are left untended; the woods are back in full.

As New England’s agriculture declined, large properties became prized for their recreational and sporting potential. By 1904, local riding enthusiast Henry Whitney was beginning to assemble parcels to create a private estate in Cohasset for equestrian pursuits; carriage roads for horse-drawn buggies and bridle trails were laid out. The Whitney Woods Association, a horseback-riding group, acquired more than 600 acres from Whitney, and later donated the acreage to The Trustees. In 1943, The Trustees renamed the reservation Whitney and Thayer Woods, in honor of Mrs. Ezra Ripley Thayer, wife of the former dean of Harvard Law School, who donated land west of the original parcel.

Her daughter, renowned 20th-century artist Polly Thayer Starr, left the 75-acre Weir River Farm – a still-active agricultural enterprise – to The Trustees of Reservations in 1999.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift, with endowment, of the Whitney Woods Association in 1933. Bancroft Bird Sanctuary given by the Federation of Bird Clubs of New England in 1935. Additional land purchased from 1944 to 1980. Additional land given by Mrs. Hugh Bancroft in 1937; the Charles B. Barnes family in 1941; Mrs. Ezra Thayer in 1943; Joseph Saponaro in 1950; Mrs. Kenneth L. Ketchum in 1965 and 1966; and David D. Ketchum, Adelaide Sproul, Susan Tucker Borecky, and John Tucker in 1984. Summit of Turkey Hill purchased in 1999 and added to the Reservation.

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties
 


Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
 


  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.


View Whitney and Thayer Woods management plan.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from the bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.



Planning Your Visit

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations

Safety

About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.





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Announcements & Alerts

Notice: Trails may be especially icy or muddy during the winter to spring transition. Use caution.

No alerts at this time.

Upcoming Things To Do
No events for this reservation at this time.
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