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White Cedar Swamp and Deans Mill Farm Preserve – Stonington / property details / get directions / trail map

These two preserves connect and form a beautiful path along a high, rocky ridge overlooking the reservoir. For such a small area, there’s a lot to see.

Total Hike & Seek Targets: 5

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Can you find the stone bench that overlooks the swampy pond? Take the little side trail on the left.  Take some time to sit quietly here and watch the water.  Depending on the time of year it may be mossy and green, with frogs along the edges. A very large snapping turtle is known to make its home here, too.


On the exposed, rocky outcrops, a funny, mossy-looking plant grows. It is light greenish in color and appears to grow right off the rocks. When it is dry, it is crispy and crumbly; after a rain, it is soft and rubbery. This is reindeer lichen, the same lichen that grows way up in the arctic tundra or on the tops of mountains, and is food for the reindeer!


As you walk up into the woods, you see more signs of history on the land. There are several very big trees up here, that seem to have several trunks coming up from the base of the tree near the ground. An odd way for a tree to grow. But what this tells us is that this tree grew tall and straight more than 100 years ago and was cut for lumber. The remaining stump re-sprouted and the hardiest, strongest sprouts grew new strong trunks, sometimes three or four per tree!


During most of the year, the swamp holds water. Even during dry spells, there is enough water to keep the moss and mud wet. Many visitors to this preserve have seen the big snapping turtle that makes her home here. They can live to be over 50 years old! We know this turtle is a female because each year she walks out of the swamp to dig a hole for her nest in a sunny, sandy area. Unfortunately, one year she dug her nest alongside the road. Luckily she changed her mind and went back into the swamp. Sit quietly and watch for her…but never get close!