Posted on November 30, 2020 and last updated on November 13, 2022

Smelt Brook and Highland Farm Preserves, York


  • Preserve Size: 451 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~4.5 miles in trail system
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Sights: salt marsh, old forests, meadows, old cemeteries, Boulter Pond, Smelt Brook

You get two preserves in one here! They share a large parking lot. The 300-acre Smelt Brook Preserve lies along the salt marsh, to the west of Cider Hill Road, while the 151-acre Highland Farm is to the east of the road. So, you can go for a long walk combining the two. Plus, Highland Farm Preserve connects to the vast trail network around the Kittery Water District (via Kingsbury Lane at the northern end of the preserve).

If you head over to Smelt Brook Preserve, it is about 0.5 miles to the salt marsh. The 1.3 miles of trails on this side are more consistently easy, if you’re looking for a reliably easygoing stroll. The trails in the Highland Farm Preserve start out gently in a large, beautiful field before entering the woods and becoming rocky and rooty. I particularly loved the high Ridge Trail in this preserve, which looks down on Boulter Pond. The old cemeteries are also interesting to check out. Additionally, there is a very short wheelchair-accessible trail that juts out into the meadow at the start of the Highland Farm trail system.

Directions: From the junction of Routes 1 and 91 in York, follow Route 91 north three miles to the preserves’ entrance on the right. Both preserves share a large parking area. You have to cross a busy street to access Smelt Brook Preserve.

2 comments to “Smelt Brook and Highland Farm Preserves, York”
2 comments to “Smelt Brook and Highland Farm Preserves, York”
  1. We went to both Smelt Brook and Highland Farm Preserves today. I liked the Ridge Trail at Highland Farm, but Boulder Pond was not visible due to all of the snow we have had lately. I am so glad that we decided to also do Smelt Brook, because that was my favorite of the two today. Beautiful views of the salt marsh and river even though it was snow-covered and most of the water was frozen!

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