Whitney and Thayer Woods Snowshoeing Report

Whitney and Thayer Woods, MA Snowshoe Trail (Massachusetts)

The Boston Blizzard of 2022 occurred on Saturday January 29, 2022, tying the city’s single-day snowfall record of 23.6″. After a day mostly spent stuck indoors, the following day was the perfect opportunity to break out the L.L. Bean Winter Walkers and venture into two feet of fresh snow.

The destination in mind for a day of snowshoeing was the Whitney and Thayer Woods, located about 45 minutes south of Boston by car. This location within the South Shore of Massachusetts is one of the most underrated spots for hiking and snowshoeing in the Boston area.

What is the Whitney and Thayer Woods?

The Whitney and Thayer Woods is located between the coastal towns of Hingham and Cohasset, MA. Accessible to many residents of Boston and eastern Massachusetts, this location offers over ten miles of trail for free public recreational use, including parking.

This nature reserve is also connected to Turkey Hill, which offers an excellent view of Cohasset Harbor and even Boston’s city skyline, and the Weir River Farm.

Untouched Piles of Fresh Snow in the Whitney and Thayer Woods

The Whitney and Thayer Woods, Turkey Hill, and the Weird River Farm are managed by The Trustees of Reservations, one of the largest preservation and conservation nonprofits in Massachusetts. This group maintains over 120 locations across the state, and there are several other spots they recommend for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months.

Within the Whitney and Thayer Woods, there are several marked routes and trails including an Orange, Red, Blue, and Yellow Loop. However, there are several other connected trails and roads to explore the sites of these woodlands and wetlands.

Snowshoeing in the WHitney and Thayer Woords

Before setting off on this journey, we parked in a lot near the summit of Turkey Hill, from which you can see Boston’s skyline. We were greeted by fresh sun, beautiful blue skies, and a stinging wind. Nearby the summit are also a water tower, cell towers and radar building.

Turkey Hill Summit

For this trip, we followed the Red Loop trail in a clockwise direction, which is approximately two miles long and is estimated to take an hour under normal hiking conditions. However, these were not normal conditions, and our snowshoeing pace was severely limited by the terrain.

The initial section of the trailhead required traversing over snow banks several feet height, likely caused by the wind blowing and piling up snow from the exposed section of Turkey Hill since the previous day’s blizzard.

This beginning section follows Turkey Hill Lane and passes along an American Holly Grove. The terrain is mostly flat but did require a few short climbs.

Turkey Hill Lane trail sign along the Red Loop

Besides our small group, we were completely alone for the early stages of this activity. Scattered throughout the paths were deer tracks over the freshly fallen snow, although we didn’t spot much wildlife.

Embracing the solitude allowed us to quietly appreciate the beautiful surrounding winter landscape. However, the lack of other people also resulted in an extremely strenuous exercise for us, since we were the trailblazes breaking fresh tracks over deep snow.

The trail markers along the Red Loop were well marked, in my opinion. They were easily spotted even when tree branches and trunks were covered by inches of fresh snow. As our journey progressed, we eventually connected with Ayer’s Lane which shares the border of Yellow Loop trail, as you can see below.

Red Loop and Yellow Loop Trail Markers along Ayer’s Lane

We did eventually cross paths with a few other winter recreation enthusiasts, including a solitary cross-country skier and a mixed group of two snowshoers and a cross-country skier. We especially appreciated this latter group since they had started the Red Loop in the opposite direction, giving us a an easier track to follow.

The final segment of our trail followed One Way Lane before returning us to a trailhead nearby our starting point.

Trip Summary

As with many of my outdoor activities, I recorded this snowshoeing adventure using Strava and a Garmin 245 Forerunner watch. The final trip statistics summarized:

  • 2.07 miles distance covered
  • 198 feet of elevation gain
  • Elapsed time of 1 hour and 38 minutes
Strava Activity Map of the Whitney and Thayer Woods Red Loop

While this snowshoeing pace was slower than usual, the grueling task of breaking fresh tracks combined with the serenity of the trail system resulted in many frequent breaks. Snowshoeing in the Whitney and Thayer Woods definitely meets the mantra of “it’s about the journey, not the destination”, and we would recommend this trip to anyone after a fresh winter storm.