- Cornell Farm/Frank Knowles-Little River Reserve
- Smith Neck Road, Dartmouth, MA
- Trailhead: 41°33’25.50″N, 70°57’18.82″W
- Last Time Hiked: July 12, 2016
- Approximate distance hiked: 5.2 miles
- Fairly easy, some hills, unsteady bridge crossing.
These two properties owned by the Trustees Of Reservations and the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) together make for a spectacular hike through various landscapes. The properties with town owned property abut each other and are connected by a series of trails. Starting from a parking area along Smith Neck Road you first followed the path that leads through an open field. Be sure to stay on the designated trails particularly in the Cornell Farm area as the farm is actively used. Through the first stretch of the hike you are likely to see farm animals. You will also pass a barn, a greenhouse, and wildflower gardens. The trail turns to the west away from the farm first flanked by stone walls then turns left before turning to the right and entering the woods. The trail, sporadically blazed red, then crosses over a small stream as it traverses through the woods. Soon you will come to a trail intersection in an open field. There is an old wood post here. Stay to the left and follow the trail to a peninsula that offers a nice scenic view of a marsh. After viewing the marsh retrace your steps briefly and look for a narrow path to your left that leads through a pine grove. This path meets with the main red blazed trail once again. Stay to the left here and you soon come to the first boardwalk that crosses the upper reaches of the Little River. The views here are stunning in the summer with the lush green grass of the marsh. After the first boardwalk you enter the DNRT property, pass through another short section of woods, and come to the second boardwalk that has views just as stunning. From this point forward the trails are blazed very well. Continuing along the red blazed trail you will cross another section of boardwalks, this one in the woods, before coming to another of this hikes highlights. The suspended bridge, supported by cables crosses over and through a red maple swamp. There is a platform to sit and rest along the bridge. The bridge itself is rather bouncy and is a little hard to negotiate. Take your time crossing it and follow the posted rules. The red trail, root bound in areas, then continues through the woods before coming to the green trail. Turn left and follow the red trail. It will soon come to the blue trail and then the white trail. Be sure to follow the blazes for the red trail through all of those intersections. Along this stretch, at the time of this hike, there was an abundance of wild roses in bloom. Continuing along the red blazed trail you will pass by and over several stone walls before coming to a clearing with a large cellar hole. This area was once part of a farmstead. There were wildflowers growing in this area as well with a pair of monarch butterflies circling the milkweed. From here the red trail continues west. You will want to follow the blue blazed trail to the east. The trail winds through some of the most portions of the property and is very narrow at points. The blue trail then joins the white trail briefly. Make note where the blue trail turns away from the white trail on the left. You will want to turn there to continue following the blue blazed trail. But first follow the white trail to its end. You will first pass an old red shed before coming to another scenic view of the marsh along Little River. From here retrace your steps back to the blue trail (now on your right). You will follow the blue trail back to the red trail passing more stone walls and a fern covered forest. There were plenty of birds in the area including a woodpecker. Near the end of the trail is an old barn foundation now filled with shrubs and wildflowers. From here turn right and follow the red blazes back to the parking area crossing the suspended bridge and boardwalks once again before ending the hike back at the farm. Most of this property is open to hunting during the season. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.
Trail maps can be found at: Cornell/Frank Knowles/Little River