400 Little Harbor Rd, Portsmouth. *Winter Access: There is plowed parking at this property.*
About the Property
Once part of the 18th-century farm of royal Governor Benning Wentworth, this coastal hideaway borders the shoreline of tidal Sagamore Creek. The historic Carey Cottage, built in 1887, is newly-renovated and now leased by GoodWork, a nonprofit organization (the building is not currently open to the public). The Forest Society Education Center at Creek Farm, also newly-renovated and formerly known as the carriage house, hosts educational programs run by the Forest Society, guided walks for the public, and summer camps run by the Gundalow Company.
The short trail around the property follows the shoreline past a canoe/kayak launch and a human-made tidal pool. If you come to paddle, haul your craft across the lawn to the put-in, then head left toward Portsmouth Harbor for views of the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion and Wentworth by the Sea Hotel. Learn more about the coastal forest habitat at Creek Farm in this blog post: Living on the Edge.
Creek Farm Series
We hope you'll join us along with local organizations as we gather and celebrate the natural beauty of this coastal hideaway. Check this page for the latest news and events happening at Creek Farm, including programs inside the Forest Society Education Center.
One of the most entertaining ways to fish for striped bass in the salt water is from a kayak. There’s no guarantee you’ll hook into a large fish, but if you do, a mini-version of what is called the “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is lots of fun. A larger striper can pull you around the salt creeks and inland bays near Creek Farm!
Sagamore Creek is a salt creek that flows in and out with the tides. You can access a lot of interesting water from the kayak and canoe launch at Creek Farm (carry your boat from the public parking area the 200 yards to the launch.) If the fishing is slow, there is still lots to see either paddling “upstream” to the salt marshes at the Urban Forestry Center, or “downstream” toward the Wentworth by the Sea hotel, or explore Leaches and Pest islands. If you go at mid-tide, you can paddle under the Rye/New Castle Bridge and take a break on the bayside beaches of Odiorne State Park.
Partner Spotlight: Portsmouth Paddle Company
Since 2019, the Forest Society has partnered annually with the Portsmouth Paddle Company (PPC) –a local guide and stand up paddleboard outfitter—providing them with a paddling access point which helps support their business. Sagamore Creek offers an ideal setting for their water-based activities and highlights the direct connection between recreation and conservation in the seacoast. PPC also makes a set donation to the Forest Society for each of the customers they guide at Creek Farm, and we are grateful for their support! Click HERE to learn more about the Portsmouth Paddle Company, their mission, and schedule.
Visitor Use Guidelines
Please see our Visitor Use Guidelines page for a complete list of rules and regulations for Forest Society reservations.
Try an Outing on the Forest Society's Mobile App, Powered by OuterSpatial
Creek Farm Outing: This interpretive Tree Identification Trail will test your knowledge of tree species as you follow along.
Creek Farm History Outing: Follow the trail to learn more about the history of Creek Farm and the original owners of Carey Cottage.
Little Harbor Loop Trail
Enjoy views of Portsmouth and Little Harbor as you make your way along the water's edge and through the forest on this 1.5 mile path that connects the Creek Farm Reservation to the grounds of the Wentworth-Coolidge State Historic Site and City of Portsmouth conservation land. From the Creek Farm parking area, walk across the lawn toward the Creek Farm kiosk and the water's edge. Walk along Sagamore Creek past lilac bushes until the trail turns left to go around a man-made tidal pool. Before you turn left, a spur trail leads to a lookout over the tidal pool. Continue on the loop trail through an old orchard and around to the other side of the tidal pool. The trail continues along the shore past Goose Island until it turns left and follows a rocky path to the road. Please respect the private property to the right of this trail. Take a right at the Wentworth-Coolidge parking area and look for a sign marking where the trail turns left into the woods. The trail continues through the forest where you'll pass stonewalls, tall white pine trees, and a large vernal pool. Another spur trail on the right leads to a spectacular view of the harbor. The loop trail leads back to Creek Farm through the City of Portsmouth conservation land. Cross Little Harbor Road to return to the entrance of Creek Farm and follow the driveway back to the parking area.
The Sagamore Creek area holds significant agricultural heritage. In fact, the site of Creek Farm, believed to have been occupied by early settler Nicholas Rowe in 1640, was one of the earliest places in New Hampshire to be cultivated by European settlers. It was later part of the 18th-century farm of the royal governor of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth. Some of the fieldstone boundary walls that cross the property define ancient property lines that were recorded on early maps of the area.
The main house and grounds were created beginning in 1888 for Arthur Astor Carey, a leader in New England’s cultural and artistic life. He purchased 40 acres of the original Benning Wentworth farm for a summer home and commissioned Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, the nephew of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, to design it. Creek Farm served as a focal point for artists summering at the Seacoast and also hosted delegates to the Portsmouth Peace Treaty in 1905, ending the Russo-Japanese War.
In 1957 Lillian and Chester Noel purchased the property from the Carey family. Shortly after her husband’s death in 1997, Lillian “Billie” Noel granted a conservation easement on the property on all but the house and five acres to the State of New Hampshire. In September of 2000, she conveyed the entire property at a bargain sale to the Forest Society, with the intent that it remain as a conservation area in perpetuity. The property serves as an outdoor education resource, tree farm, bird sanctuary and wildlife reservation.
We are grateful to Billie for making this tremendous gift of open space and for all who contributed toward its purchase.
Recommended Properties Nearby
- Great Views
- Hiking Trails
- Paddling (canoeing / kayaking)
- Portable restroom in summer months
- Parking area
- Trail markers
- No Snowmobiles
- No wheeled vehicles (including Bicycles)
- No Motorized wheeled vehicles (ATVs, trucks, dirt bikes)
- No Camping
- No Fires
- No Building access
- Carry in, Carry out all trash
- Do not disturb plants, animals, or cultural features