Parsons Reserve: “Reserve of the Month”

Parsons Reserve is a 32-acre parcel located just outside Russell’s Mills Village between Slade’s Corner Road and Horseneck Road. The parcel is primarily comprised of deciduous upland forest, with interesting topography, such as rock outcroppings and ridgelines. Destruction Brook meanders through the property on its way to Slocum’s River with the floodplain cutting a wide swath between the towering rock outcroppings that dominate portions of the Reserve.

There is limited parking at the Russell’s Mills Landing on Horseneck Road, just south of Russell’s Mills Village. After parking, you can cross Horseneck Road north of the tennis courts and look for the Parsons Reserve sign over the wooden fence. The trail goes up the hill into the woods.  (The daffodil fields are about an 8 minute walk from the entrance.)

History

The Parsons Reserve was first protected with a Conservation Restriction donated by Williams Parsons in 1992. Mr. Parsons then donated the daffodil field and adjacent agricultural field (a total of about 4 acres) to DNRT in 1999. In 2005, Mr. Parsons gave the remainder of the property to DNRT. The agricultural field near the daffodils is leased from DNRT by a local farmer who grows Arborvitae.

According to local lore, the daffodils were planted by Raymond Pettey in the 1940s to sell during World War II, while the U.S. was unable to get bulbs from Holland. The war ended and the flowers remained. The daffodil field is a popular attraction with over 9,000 visitors in 2014, and there are over 11,000 daffodils planted at Parsons Reserve.

Trails

The Parsons Reserve is a lovely and ecologically important property. The property features significant rock outcroppings with dramatic views. A fecund vernal pool provides habitat for a variety of common and rare species, including salamanders, wood frogs, and rare plants. Wild turkeys roost in the oaks along the edge of the pool adjacent to a beautiful beech grove. Deer wander the paths, foraging on the young shoots of briars and other understory plants. The Reserve’s southern trail to Horseneck Road is dotted with mature rhododendrons planted by Mr. Parsons when he acquired the property in the 1960s.

On the northern end of the property, the Yellow Trail takes you to the famous daffodil field, a wooded glade that fills with thousands of daffodils every spring. A new trail loop has been added to the western side of the daffodil field, affording visitors a view of beautiful Destruction Brook. The Green Trail passes by the vernal pool and around rock outcroppings.

Special Notes

Parsons Reserve is used and loved by many visitors, especially during daffodil season, when thousands of visitors come to see the blooming daffodils. Please be considerate and allow all to enjoy it.

Please stay on existing trails only and respect signs regarding closed areas. Please be aware of your surroundings and take responsibility for your own safety. Due to the narrow trails and ecological values of the Reserve: horseback and bicycle riding are NOT allowed.

During daffodil season, please stay on the wood-chip path through the daffodils and do not pick or step on the flowers! Thank you.

Dogs are welcome and must be on leash and under control at all times. Also please be sure to either bag and remove your dog’s waste, or at a minimum move it well off the trail, so that others may have a pleasant visit.  Please check www.dnrt.org for directions and information on Parsons Reserve, and please contact DNRT at 508.991.2289 or info@dnrt.org with more questions about this Reserve or other DNRT Reserves in the area.

Keep an eye to the DNRT website for next month’s featured reserve….Knowles Reserve.