Parsons Reserve’s most well-known feature is its sweeping daffodil field, which generally blooms in April. But that’s hardly the only reason to visit this lovely reserve. Year-round, it’s a beautiful place to explore trails through hilly forests and wooded wetlands.
We recommend visiting Parsons Reserve in spring – but not just for the daffodils. A large vernal pool sits at the property’s back edge, inviting visitors to discover life in this special springtime habitat.
The trail network at Parsons Reserve isn’t long, but it offers a natural escape that explorers of all ages will love. We suggest you allow an hour to walk the trails, especially in spring when the reserve is busiest. (Download trail map)
There are two trailheads along Horseneck Road. The main entrance begins across from the tennis courts at Russells Mills Landing, where a small sign up in the trees marks the trail. The second entrance sits slightly further south at a metal gate.
Each of these trailheads will start you on the Blue Trail, which loops for three-quarters of a mile through the reserve. The trail climbs short, steep hills in a few places, and dips low through wet valleys along Destruction Brook in others. (If you come in spring, wear a pair of waterproof hiking boots!)
The main entrance on Horseneck Road is also the starting point for the Yellow Trail, which soon branches off to the right toward the daffodil field. At the southwest edge of the reserve, veer off the Blue Trail to take a short loop on the Green Trail to explore the vernal pool.
Habitats & Wildlife
Parsons Reserve packs a diverse variety of scenery and habitats into its 32 acres. The property is primarily a wooded floodplain formed by Destruction Brook, which meanders around exposed bedrock outcroppings on its way toward the Slocums River.
The wooded wetlands here – particularly the vernal pool – are a prime spot for wildlife. Frogs and salamanders thrive around the edge of the vernal pool, where they lay eggs after a long winter’s hibernation.
Elsewhere in the reserve, birds like owls and turkeys are drawn to the shelter of the woods, while mammals such as deer and chipmunks peruse the wooded glades for food.
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.