Getting to Smith Farm Reserve
Smith Farm Reserve in Dartmouth, MA is 140 acres of reservation land that overlooks Nonquitt Salt Marsh. Smith Farm Reserve is located on Smith Neck Road between Gentry Lane and Plains Field Drive. Parking is on the road only, there is no lot; there is a small pull off that could fit about 5 cars but that’s it. It’s very easy to miss, there is a small sign that marks the entrance to the reserve.
There are 4 main, marked, color-coded trails. Click here to download a pdf of the reserve, this is the map from Smith Farm Reserve’s website. I walked the path to the observation platform at the far end of the reserve – the Orange trail – about 1.25 miles one way.
Mud and Bugs…Oh My!
The path was muddy and there were a few parts where the path had a large puddle that was difficult/messy to cross so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Other than that, I recommend the same preparations that I do in my visit to Dana post: wear pants and long sleeves and bring bug spray. The day I went, however, bug issues were at a minimum.
This trip was my friend’s idea and I just tagged along, so I didn’t realize it was a long walk through forest wetlands. I arrived in shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops. My feet and lower legs both got dirty and I had that constant itchy feeling like bugs were landing on me, it wasn’t unbearable being so scantily clad but it would have been more comfortable if I had dressed appropriately.
The Observation Deck!
At the end of the Orange trail there is a wooden observation deck that looks out to the marshlands. It’s a beautiful site.
There is also a horseshoe shaped pond at the end of the other trail, but I did not have the time to check it out unfortunately. I heard it is worth the walk though.
The Surrounding Area
If you look at this area on a map, you can see all these roads twisting and stretching out to cliffs overlooking the ocean. We were looking at Google Maps and thought that these would be fantastic to check out, but, as it turns out, all these roads end on private property. And when I say private property, I mean literally the roads are gated off.
The second, cliff-ending road we tried was a narrow, quiet, residential street with children playing outside. Slowing creeping past the children and driving a little farther down the street, we see that it’s gated off and there’s no place to easily turn around…and yes the person who lives in this gated mansion is leaving JUST as we pull down. The road is so narrow that I tried to do a 3-point turn but it ended up being more of a 15-point turn only to drive back past the children and their parents in the street with all their eyes on us again, so embarrassing.
North to the Beach
Traveling back north toward Route 24, we passed a small beach called Knowles Beach. There’s parking alongside the road on both sides. Knowles Beach is at the corner of Smith Neck Road and Gulf Road.
It’s directly opposite a harbor which makes for an interesting change of scenery from the usual beach. The one qualm I had was that the smell of gasoline wafts over as the boats enter and exit the wharf. Otherwise its a decent beach to stop at either on the way to or from Smith Farm Reserve.
I really like the Dartmouth area, it has a good mix of small town feel, undisturbed nature and important history that makes it a great candidate for your next day trip. The Knowles Beach and Smith Farm Reserve are both free, quick activities that can be integrated into any excursion to the area and they won’t disappoint.
Smith Farm Reserve