Smuggler's Rock Preserve

The rock formation known as Balanced Rock or Smuggler's Rock.
The rock formation known as Balanced Rock or Smuggler's Rock.

About Smuggler’s Rock Preserve

Town: Salem

Directions: Take exit 82 off I-95 or exit 2 off I-395 and go north on Route 85. About two miles past the traffic circle at Salem Four Corners, turn right on Salem Ridge Dr. (Use 198 Salem Ridge Dr. for GPS address)

Where to Park: Park on the side of the street, not in the school bus turnaround.

Description: Three parcels totaling over 100 acres. Trails range from easy to difficult, ending with a scenic overlook (during non-foliage months) and a unique rock formation.

Regulations: Dogs on leashes are welcome on Salem Land Trust owned preserves.

Amenities: None.

Natural Features: Glacial rock formations, several small streams, one giant old oak tree.

Fees: None.

Owned by: Salem Land Trust

More information: http://www.salemlandtrust.org

Starting from the trailhead at the end of Salem Ridge Drive, (don’t park in the bus turnaround) hikers are treated to two miles of trails on over 100 acres recently preserved through donations and grants to the land trust. The trails are three connected loops blazed in red, orange and yellow, with a blue-blazed spur trail leading to Round Hill Road.

After a small stream crossing halfway down the red trail, an enormous oak tree dwarfs the much-younger forest surrounding it. Given the girth of the massive trunk, one can assume this majestic tree stood alone in a farm pasture long before most of us were born.

The yellow trail brings you up a steep rocky scramble to a scenic overlook and a collection of rocks left by retreating glaciers. With no leaves on the trees, there is a view of the center of Salem to the southwest. A few feet later, a sign points downhill to “Balanced Rock,” a more accurate title for the rock formation that no doubt has inspired some local folklore.  After marveling at table-like boulder improbably perched atop two smaller rocks, hikers can follow their footsteps back for a direct route to the trailhead, or explore the rest of the preserve’s winding loops for a slightly longer outing.

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