Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust cuts the branch on new hiking trails

Jun 20, 2019

Trying to hike every Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust property this summer? You’ve got one more location to add to your list: Dodge Reserve.

DNRT officials and supporters unveiled the new-to-hiking property during a “branch cutting” ceremony on June 20.

It’s not exactly a new reserve. DNRT acquired the 27.23-acre property in 1982. It was donated to the land trust by Lydia S. Dodge. But for many years, it sat dormant. Although protected from development, it was overgrown, making hiking in the property a challenge.

It is also one of only two public pieces of property to run along the Buttonwood Brook. The other property, DNRT’s Strongman Reserve, is also undeveloped and lacks easy access to the waterway.

It was not until the late 2000s that two neighbors — Bettina Borders and Victor Mailey — wanted to check out the nature contained within. Their first trek into the property, however, was marred by overgrowth and poison ivy.

With their help, in 2012 DNRT added the property to its volunteer work party schedule, and resources trust staff and volunteers have been working since then to create trails and control vegetation to make it easier to hike.

“I think it’s going to be a really terrific resource for folks who live in this area to get off the roads so to speak,” said DNRT Executive Director Dexter Mead. “It’s probably not a destination property like Destruction Brook, but it’s a great neighborhood property and a great opportunity for people in the neighborhood to get off the streets and enjoy the nature here.”

After cutting the ceremonial branch to mark the reserve’s trails open, DNRT staff led a hike through the reserve, pointing out interesting natural features. It includes several types of trees, from red oak, white ash, ironwood, and black tupelo, and different types of bushes and shrubs.

Remains of old ice houses, and a dam which was used to produce the ice, can also be seen from the trails.

The property is located on Russells Mills Road south of the Slocum Road/Russells Mills Road intersection, in between Windjammer Drive and Vieira Court.

It features two trails. The Yellow Trail is a 0.14-mile hike along the eastern shore of the brook. The Orange Trail runs for 0.25 miles, and crosses the brook over a set of rocks to cover the western side of the brook. Parking is available on the street.

Dodge Reserve is the latest in a growing list of trail-connected reserves for the resources trust. Last year, it celebrated the opening of Ocean View Farm near Allens Pond.

Mead said work is ongoing on a new property on Bakerville Road as part of the Dike Creek preservation project, which will likely be the next “branch cutting” site. Town Meeting approved the use of community preservation funds for the project during the 2019 Spring Town Meeting. 

For more information about Dodge Reserve and to download a trail map, visit dnrt.org/dodge.