P.J. Keating Woods

Discover a slice of secluded nature along the urban Acushnet River at P.J. Keating Woods, one of the newest properties in the growing Acushnet River Reserve. With 21 acres of woods, wetlands, and waterfront views, this Buzzards Bay Coalition trail offers an interesting walk with excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing.

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Features

Set across South Main Street from the quarry carrying the same name, P.J. Keating Woods unveils a natural world that’s hidden just out of sight in the densely developed neighborhoods along the Acushnet River estuary. Step into the woods away from the bustling road to find quiet vernal pools and wooded swamps tucked among the oaks and maples.

At the end of the trail, the woods give way to a wide open view of fields, wetlands, and the Acushnet River estuary. The water view is a study in contrasts: on the Acushnet side, the shoreline is a natural salt marsh, while across the river in New Bedford, factories line the river’s edge. (Because of the ongoing cleanup of toxic PCB pollution, this portion of the river remains off-limits to fishing, shellfishing, and beachcombing.)

After this property was acquired in 2017, the Coalition restored it by removing invasive vines, improving the trail, and adding a river overlook. It’s now part of a developing “greenbelt” along the Acushnet River, together with nearby protected properties like The Sawmill, LaPalme Farm, and Hamlin Crossing. This corridor of conservation and recreation lands helps protect clean water and endangered habitats.

Trails

Meadow at Keating Woods at sunset

The trail at P.J. Keating Woods begins with a walk through a restored wildflower meadow toward the woods, where a loop trail leads you to a view of the Acushnet River.

The trail at Keating Woods loops for less than a mile through the forest to a river view. These woods can be wet and there are some small steep hills along the trail, so we recommend you wear boots or waterproof shoes with good traction. (Download trail map)

Start from one of two trailheads: one at the property’s main entrance along South Main Street, and the other behind the Acushnet Council on Aging, which has excellent parking. The trail begins at a restored wildflower meadow before entering the woods. Elevated bog boards cross most of the wettest parts of the trail along streams and swamps. At the end of the trail, climb a set of steep natural steps built into the hillside to reach the river view. (To respect surrounding private property, please stay on the trail and do not cross the fence.)

Habitats & Wildlife

Keating Woods is located on the eastern banks of the Acushnet River estuary. Here, fresh water flowing downstream from the river’s headwaters in Freetown meets the tides of Buzzards Bay rising up from New Bedford Harbor.

As a large protected natural area surrounded by urban development, Keating Woods is a magnet for wildlife. Deer, turkeys, foxes, owls, opossums, and coyotes are just a few of the species that have been spotted in these woods. Keep an eye out on your walk for evidence of these animals, like tracks, scat, feathers, and bones. The river is also a haven for birds: ducks raft on the water’s surface in spring, while hawks and bald eagles perch on the tall electrical poles while they hunt for their next meal.

Property Owned By

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and sustainable use and enjoyment of our irreplaceable Bay and its watershed.

Details
Size: 21 acres
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Parking: Best parking in rear lot at Acushnet Council on Aging (59 1/2 South Main St.)
Trail Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate
Dogs: Yes (under voice control)
Facilities: None
ADA Accessible: No

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Address & Contact Information
71 South Main St.
Acushnet, MA 02743
41.672140, -70.908912
Buzzards Bay Coalition: (508) 999-6363
Email: info@savebuzzardsbay.org

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

P.J. Keating Woods
Acushnet, MA
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Upcoming Events Near Here

Falmouth Road Race
Sun, August 18
Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights,
Falmouth
Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride
Sun, October 06
Sakonnet Point, RI to Woods Hole,
Falmouth
Marine Biological Laboratory Tours
Mon, July 01 -
Fri, August 30
Pierce Exhibit Center,
Falmouth

Nearby Places To Go

The Sawmill

At the edge of New Bedford’s urban North End sits The Sawmill, a 19-acre former lumber yard on the Acushnet River.

LaPalme Farm

With nearly 50 acres of meadows and forests on the Acushnet River, LaPalme Farm celebrates Acushnet’s pastoral charm.

Hamlin Crossing

Hamlin Crossing’s peaceful wildflower meadow and quiet woods in Acushnet are a perfect place for a short, refreshing walk.

Current Issues

Toxic Pollution

Among all of the pollution threats to Buzzards Bay, toxic contamination has seen the greatest reductions in the past several decades. But toxic pollution is still a problem in parts of the Bay. Through strong, dedicated advocacy, the Coalition is working to make toxic pollution a relic of the past.

Read More ›
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Bay Health: Acushnet River – Estuary

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