This tract of 163 acres is one of the most interesting natural areas in Hingham. The property abuts a residential area near the corner of Main and South Pleasant Streets on the northwest, South Pleasant Street on the northeast,George Washington Town Forest on the east and residences along Huntley and Road and the Lutheran Church on the south.

The property is surrounded by uplands with Liberty Pole Hill crossing the northwest side of the property. A ridge at the north end of Liberty Plain crosses through the southerly part of the WRWS property in an east west line. Upland extensions of Merryknoll Hill and Mast Hill spread from the east into the Town Forest on the east side of the WRWS property. These uplands encompass a low area of kettle ponds and Fulling Mill Brook in the north end of the WRWS site. Fulling Mill Brook originates in wetlands on the west side of Main Street and flows northeast into the WRWS property and Fulling Mill Pond and continues north into a valley through Glad Tidings Plain and beyond.

Fulling Mill Pond was created when Capt. Abel Cushing built a dam and mill in the early 18th Century. The mill was used for beating woven woolen cloth while wet to cause the opposing fibers to interlock and form a more homogenous textile. Fulling Mill Pond and Fulling Mill Brook got their names from the mill in the 18th century.

The concept of a Hingham water works was first introduced in 1870/71. In 1879 the Hingham Water Company was incorporated and granted rights to the waters of Accord Pond to convey the waters throughout Hingham and Nantasket and Nantasket Beach. In 1879 construction of the waterworks began with a completion date of 1980. The initial construction consisted of installation of pipes and fire hydrants from Accord Pond throughout Hingham on principal streets leading to Downer Landing providing water by way of gravity.

In 1881 the lines were extended into Hull to Nantasket Beach and Hull Village and into Cohasset along Jerusalem Road. In Hull a 40 feet diameter 42 feet high standpipe was built on Strawberry Hill to hold water. These extensions to the system reduced water pressure, making the gravity feed insufficient for service. To provide emergency capacity a pump was installed near the Weir River and a supply line was installed from Foundry Pond. The Foundry Pond supply was found to be objectionable and insufficient, so in March of 1886 the Water Company purchased Fulling Mill Pond and laid a 12 inch pipe from the pond to the pumping station increasing the efficiency of the service.

By July 1, 1891, 43 miles of pipes, including 187 hydrants, were extended from Fulling Mill Pond to the pumping station and from Accord Pond to Downer Landing, Windmill Point at the northern tip of Hull and Jerusalem Road in Cohasset.

Several kettle ponds in the recessional moraine above Fulling Mill Pond were cleverly used by designers of the water system to receive and hold water piped underground from the higher elevations of Accord Brook. A natural spring can be found at the base of the southern bank of the steep-walled valley that bisects the western section. Unusually large hardwood trees add to the pleasure of following the path from Main Street eastward toward the ponds.

On August 1, 2020 the Town of Hingham completed the purchase of the water system from the Aquarion Water Company and renamed it the Weir River Water System.

Access – The primary trailhead for the Ponds and Ridges Walk is a trail that enters the property on the east side of Main Street, across from Constitution Road.  Secondary access is available through the George Washington Town Forest.  

WRWS Building – There is no parking at the Main Street entrance to the trailhead. For those driving to the site there is parking available at the WRWS water treatment facility building at 900 Main Street.  The building is located on the east side of Main Street between Prospect and Annick Streets. Access is via a driveway shared with the House of Prayer Lutheran Church. The WRWS facility is to the left on the driveway. 

The walk to the trailhead is about a quarter mile along Main Street. After parking, walk to Main Street and turn right on the sidewalk.  Main Street crosses Fulling Mill Brook, which originates on the west side of Main Street at the base of Liberty Pole Hill.  After crossing the brook, the turn right onto the dirt road directly across from Constitution Road arriving at the trailhead for the walks.

South School Access – An alternative parking area about a quarter mile from the Main Street trailhead is the South School parking lot. This lot is only available during non-school hours. The parking lot is located on the west side of Main Street on the North side of the school, which is located at 831 Main Street. The route from the South School parking lot to the trailhead on Main Street goes south on  the walkways on the west side of Main Street past the fire station.  Cross Main Street at the crosswalk and continue south (right) along the sidewalk to the dirt road directly across from Constitution Road arriving at the trailhead for the walks.

WALK – The 3.2 mile walk begins at the Main Street trailhead at the dirt road that enters the woods. Continue to the left of the brook going northeast in a valley between Liberty Pole Hill on the left (northwest) and a ridge on the right going east-west through the WRWS property.  Shortly after turning onto the road the route passes a short trail on the left which connects to Main Street.  Stay on the road as it veers to the right at the bottom of a boulder retaining wall and steep slope on the left.  The route crosses Fulling Mill Brook, which passes under the road in a culvert.  Immediately after crossing the culvert the route turns off the road and onto a path on the right.  The path rises gradually and parallels the road.

Continue straight across a four way intersection the route continues across the intersection. The trail drops slightly and comes to the edge of a pond on the right and a slope towards the road below.  At this point water flows across the trail seasonally.  At other times water emerges from the slope below the trail.  At the bottom of the slope the water passes through a pipe under the road and flows towards Fulling Mill Pond.  The trail then rises to the left with a small pond on the right.  At the top of a low ridge there are scenic views of Fulling Mill Pond.  The road below is often Covered with water at this location.  The trail continues, with the small pond on the right, and meets a second trail at a T intersection with another pond straight ahead.  To the left the trail follows the edge of the new pond.  To the right the trail follows a ridge dam like structure between the two ponds. Turn right at this point and follow the trail across the dam to another trail intersection.  The trail to the right follows the pond to the west back towards Main Street.  On the left is a narrow trail that rises along  the edge of the pond on the left.    

Turn left onto the narrow trail as it wends its way up the steep slope of the ridge. The trail becomes very steep as it continues southwest towards the top of the ridge where it meets a trail going along the top of the ridge in both directions. Turn left here and continue south along an esker-like ridge that drops off on both sides.  The trail rises and drops until it rises to the edge of a flat wooded plain.  After reaching the level ground, the route turns left (west) at a junction with another trail.  The route bears left along the WRWS property’s southern boundary and heads towards Hingham’s George Washington Town Forest.  On the right of the trail is residential property on Huntley Road.  Near the end of the Huntley Road houses take a left onto a trail marked by a blue blaze on a beech tree.

After a short distance the trail drops down from the edge of the plain then rises over a hill, drops and rises again to the top of an esker.  The esker continues north with scenic views of ponds below on either side.  As the esker starts downhill the route follows the trail curving to the right, passing two side trails on the left.  The  side trails are dead ends that lead to pond views.  The route passes between two ponds and rises steeply to another trail, at which point the trail turns left.

After turning left the trail goes downhill with a pond on the left.  It comes to a trail on the right, which leads into Town Forest and the South Pleasant Street Entrance. 

The route continues downhill to the left along the edge of the pond.  At the bottom of the hill there is a piped inlet into the pond.  The water in the pipe is directed down-grade from Accord Brook in Wompatuck State Park.

Continue straight on the trail past the inlet keeping the pond on the left.  There is a dirt road on the right that goes to a gated entrance to Fulling Mill Station (the WRWS maintenance facility and a pumping station).  The walk route continues left uphill with the pond on the left. Continuing downhill on the left is a channel directing water from the pond the route has passed toward  another pond further downstream.  

Continue along until the trail splits.  You’ve now completed a loop and are back to the location of the earthen dam that passes between two ponds.  The trail to the right led to this location earlier in the walk.  Continue to the end of the earthen dam where the trail splits again.  Turn right here and head west towards Main Street.  The route follows the trail along the base of the ledge with the pond on the right.  Near the end of the pond the trail splits.  To the left the trail heads up the steep ridge.  Keep to the right as the trail continues along the bottom of the ridge into a wooded area.  Continue right along the path as it heads downhill.  When the route intersects a path, turn right and go over a hill to a four way intersection.  Turn left at the intersection onto the trail that leads back to the entrance road where it crosses Fulling Mill Brook. Turn left onto the road and return to Main Street and the WRWS facility or South School to complete the walk.   

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Recommended Trail Activities: Walking, Hiking, Trail Biking  Length: 3.2 miles  Route Type: Trail (Narrow), Path (Medium), Road (Wide)  Difficulty (Grade/Surface): Difficult  Parking: Adequate  Dog Restrictions: Allowed  Ancillary Activities: Birding, Fishing (license may be required), Hunting (permission may be required), Historic Sites

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