Posted on November 13, 2022 and last updated on November 14, 2022

Rocky Hills Preserve and Eliot Town Forest, South Berwick and Eliot


  • Preserve Size: >200 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~5 miles in network
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Sights: York Pond, old quarry, old cemetery

This contiguous tract of protected land, which includes the swampy, picturesque York Pond and a network of wide, mostly level old woods roads, is a really pleasant place to wander and spend a few hours in.

There are three linked parcels here — Great Words Regional Land Trust’s 200-acre Rocky Hills Preserve, the Eliot Town Forest, and state land. There are a few interconnecting trails that will take you off the preserve that aren’t posted with ‘no trespassing’ signs, so you could also extend your walk here, if you’d like. (Note: while there are a few trail signs and preserve signs along the way, the network was not blazed when I visited in fall 2022, and I did wander off the preserve a few times, so keep your wits about you!)

Starting at the trailhead and parking area off Punkinton Road, you’ll soon reach the Old Punkinton Road-Quarry Hill trail junction. Go either direction to do the full loop, about 1.5 miles. You’ll pass the old granite quarry on Quarry Hill Trail. It’s a murky pool now.

For the most beautiful views of weedy York Pond, continue onto Eliot Town Forest. There are two loops on either side of Punkinton Road. Both have views, but the south loop is described as a “seasonal trail” by Great Works Regional Land Trust, and that is, I strongly believe, because it is very, very wet! But if you do hike it, you’ll be able to check out a couple of wetland lookouts. The looped trail on the other side of Punkinton, up and around steep Swazey Hill, is much drier, and also affords a couple of views. You can avoid the climb up the hill by sticking to the outer loop trail.

Directions: From Route 236, turn onto Punkinton Road. Soon the road splits. Veer left, and then take an immediate right onto a rough gravel lane. The parking lot will be on your right in about 50 feet. There’s space for about three vehicles. This is the only official parking area for the preserve. There’s no parking at the other side of the preserve, its eastern border, where Punkinton Road becomes paved again. You can, however, walk onto the preserve here.


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