Ridge Hill Reserve gets its name from the hill in the center of the property – one of the highest points in Dartmouth. As you walk these sloping trails, you can feel the landscape rolling under your feet from high ridges to low valleys. The reserve is popular with local dog owners, and it’s also a great spot to go snowshoeing in winter.
If you’re looking for a quick adventure, check out the Jason Phillips Mill site, where the stone remnants of an old mill sit along a bubbling brook. (This stream flows to the Shingle Island River, which eventually leads to the East Branch of the Westport River and Buzzards Bay.) But if you spend a little longer exploring the reserve, you’ll find so much more to discover.
Ridge Hill Reserve features over four miles of well-marked trails through the woods. To walk all the trails, plan to visit the reserve for about 2-3 hours – leaving you plenty of time to linger. (Download trail map)
The Green and Blue Trails loop through the hilly southwest side of the reserve. You’ll climb some steep, rocky slopes on these trails, so make sure to wear proper footwear for you walk. Once you reach the higher elevations, you’ll be rewarded by soft, fragrant paths covered with pine needles.
On the northeast side of the reserve lies the Red Trail, a nearly two-mile loop through forested wetlands. The red trail has several fascinating sights, from the Jason Phillips Mill site to the Lycopod Loop, where lush green clubmoss carpets the ground.
A portion of the red trail (the Arabia Sampson Path) shares a boundary with the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve; this land, owned by the Fall River Water Department, protects the Copicut Reservoir, which you can see through the trees. Hunting and mountain biking are allowed here, so use caution when walking and wear blaze orange during hunting season.
Habitats & Wildlife
From high, dry woodland hills to low, wet freshwater swamps, Ridge Hill Reserve packs a variety of habitats into its 210 acres. The forest is dotted with holly, hemlocks, beech stands, multi-trunked oaks, and tall pines that tower over the trails. In the low areas around the mill site, ferns unfurl in spring while lady slippers, blueberries, and huckleberries add bursts of color to the verdant summer landscape.
With such an extensive network of undisturbed forests and waterways – including Ridge Hill Reserve, the 13,600-acre Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve, and other nearby preserves – this area protects a special ecosystem for countless wildlife species. Keep an eye out for hawks, deer, and foxes, particularly in the pipeline clearing that cuts across the green and red trails.
Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) is a nonprofit, accredited land trust. Since 1971, DNRT has helped protect more than 5,000 acres of land and maintain more than 35 miles of hiking trails in Dartmouth.