FarandNear: Where You Might Catch a Glimpse of River Otter

Representing its given name perfectly, Farandnear is exactly that. Near enough you can go for a quick visit, but offers a feel of being far away. And that's nearly how it earned its name. Farandnear was the summer home of professor Arthur Banks, whose grandfather Charles Goodspeed, named the property, because, at 50 miles from his home in Wollaston, it was “far” enough to require a two-days’ journey by horse to reach, but “near” enough to be a vacation home.

Here's why we love Farandnear. There are about 2.7 miles of trails through bogs and beaver ponds that offer nearly every step something new for the kids to investigate. From otter scat littering the bog paths, to fallen trees to climb, and a wide variety of birds singing in the background. Since we're just coming to the end of our winter, the river otter scat can be most readily identified by the apparent fish scales, since in winter their diets mostly consist of fish. As we transition to summer, their diets will begin to consist of more crayfish. You'll often find river scat along land between two bodies of water. At Farandnear, otter scat can often be found on Lower Dike path and along the yellow blazed path on Upper Dike around the Old Reservoir.

Nearly every inch of this property tends to captivate my kids, but we love the yellow loop around the reservation since the loop itself is 1 mile and allows for the kids to run the whole thing while also offering the opportunity to stop and check out several bogs and race over several bridges.

One of my favorite parts of this reservation is the Pinetum (an arboretum of pine trees and other conifers). This area is completely fenced in to protect the trees from the deer, who apparently find this fine dining!

Besides having the opporutnity to just lay in the grass and have lunch in the pinetum, you can also park yourself under this pavilion where they now have picnic tables. A very small nature center has prompting questions that can get the kids thinking about different species of animals and trees they'll find in the reservation.

Sometimes we just love wild land where we're surrounded by what feels like vast emptiness other than the wild creatures evading our visit, and sometimes we love properties like Farandnear which offers just a bit of wild and a bit of manicured luxury.

Farandnear is located on Center Street in Shirley MA. Download directions here, or just type Farandnear into Google maps.

Download the trail map before you leave.

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