Slocum’s River Reserve: A Whole Lot in One Small Package

For Colin’s first weekend home (the first weekend in June) we had originally planned to run up to the Whites to start our long-awaited crack at the 4,000 footers. This plan was sadly washed out by an obnoxious storm that decided to roll in exclusively for the weekend. Normally we wouldn’t mind hiking in the rain, but we figured it would be poor judgment to try our luck on one of the 48 during a storm (we like our legs un-broken and our bodies un-dead). So, as an alternative, we opted for a woods walk in the beautiful Slocum’s River Reserve in Colin’s hometown of Dartmouth, MA.

Slocum’s River Reserve is a 47-acre patch of forest, marsh, and fields with a mere two miles of trails on one side, and a 3.6-mile route on the other, split down the middle by Horseneck Road. We decided to go for all 5.6 miles. This was a poor decision, as the two sides of the reserve are in stark contrast with one another. One side has its beautiful, well-kept trails, complimented by the river and beautiful artwork. The other has poorly maintained, hard to navigate trails full of ticks and electric fence borders (bad-news-bears).

We’ll start with the nice side (closest to the river). This area is a perfect spot for a quick walk to get back in touch with nature, or to simply de-stress from a hard week. We would highly suggest heading in around lunchtime and sitting by the river for a picnic while enjoying the surrounding sights and sounds. The area’s beauty was enhanced by the amazing in-nature sculptures set up by local artists throughout the year. We were lucky enough to come across a massive cornucopia sculpture big enough to fit the both of us, and it reminded Katie of the Hunger Games. On one path we came across an orange rock that we originally thought was trash, but turned out to be the beginning of a large, fairytale-like mushroom forest filled with mushroom sculptures in various sizes and colors. Incorporating art into a small reserve like this is a great way to attract a greater audience onto the trails and, hopefully, instill a higher respect for nature.

The second side of the walk (the side surrounding Dartmoor Farm Wildlife Management Area) was a far leap down in quality for us. As we crossed the road the trails quickly became indistinguishable from the farmland surrounding and for a good portion we had to follow alongside an electric fence bordering a property (not very nature-tastic). Although the trail map had told us there would be only one trail leading in a loop from and back to the road, we found ourselves stumped many times as the trail split off in three or four different directions, many-a-time leading us to a dead end or back to an electric fence. Several stops had to be made for tick-checks and many ticks were found, mostly due to the seldom-traveled trails being covered with a dense growth of ferns and grass. There were a few spots that we thought were nice, and even an interesting old storehouse foundation, but we didn’t feel it was really worth the confusion and tick-attacks to get there.

Overall, it was still a great day (about 85% of the greatness attributed to the first half of the walk). Although we prefer hiking, a woods walk was an excellent way to get out of the house for a portion of the day and a nice way to spend some time together talking about sloths. Stay tuned for an exciting post next week because the 4,000 footers adventure has officially begun!

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