Posted on January 11, 2021 and last updated on May 11, 2021

Harvey Butler Rhododendron Sanctuary, Springvale


  • Preserve Size: 56 acres
  • Trail Mileage: 0.7 miles one way
  • Pets: no
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Sights: rhododendron garden, red maple swamp

There is a secret garden of sorts tucked into the woods at this sanctuary. The hundreds, maybe thousands, of Rhododendron maximum growing in this large stand are most definitely glorious when they’re in bloom. Early June, I think, would be a good time to visit. They’re even beautiful in the dead of winter!

Parking is a bit of an issue; there’s a narrow pullover by the trailhead, which is marked with two small signs — the trailhead is very hard to spot initially. Once you find it, the well-marked 0.7-mile path takes you over regular forested terrain — it can be rooty and a bit uneven — and across a stream until you arrive at a fence. Visitors are welcome to open the gate (remember to close it!) and explore the 5-acre garden. It’s a special place.

Besides the stand of these rhododendron, which is at the northern edge of its range here, you can find yellow blue-bead lilies, spicebush, sheep laurel, and painted trillium on this 56-acre preserve, according to the Native Plant Trust, which protects this land.

Directions: The sanctuary is off Route 11A (Oak Street), about 2.5 miles on the left side of the road from downtown Springvale. The entrance is 0.1 miles from a sign for Privet Drive, which will be on the right.


Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!