Mercer
Hopewell Township

Cedar Ridge Preserve
Hopewell Township, NJ 08525

Overview of Selected Trail

This property consists of a combination of open fields and woodlands covering 116 acres at the edge of the Sourland Mountains. The Cedar Ridge Trail is a preservation project of D&R Greenway Land Trust.

The trail runs parallel to the Stony Brook and is quite close to the stream. It is on the southern side of four fields, defined by hedgerows. A new trail spur has been added by an Eagle Scout and is shown through the wooded area.

Trail Map
Summary
Full Desc
Flora & Fauna
History
Photos/Videos
  • Cedar Ridge Preserve
  • Distance:

    Total of 2.03 miles

    Time:

    Allow 30-60 minutes for round trip

    Markings:

    There are some white blazes along the way. There are white arrows on posts at key turning points.

    Trail Usage:

    Walking/Hiking

    Elevation:

    Minimal

    Difficulty:

    Easy

    Parking:

    There is a 5-car parking lot on Van Dyke Road near the trailhead.

    Tips:

    None.

    Amenities:

    There is a kiosk at the trailhead to explain the wildlife and bird life found on this preserved land.

    Directions:

    From Princeton:

    Follow Nassau Street to 206 South. Turn right onto Elm Road. Left at first traffic light onto Rosedale Road. Follow to the end and turn right onto Carter Road. Follow Carter Road all the way to the end. Turn left onto Route 518 west. Follow 518 through Hopewell Borough. Bear right to stay on 518 outside of the borough. At the blinking traffic light, turn right onto Van Dyke Road. The trailhead is on the left, at the bottom of the hill, just past the stream crossing.

    From Pennington:

    Route 31 North to Route 518 east. Right onto 518 east and follow to blinking traffic light at Van Dyke Road. Left onto Van Dyke Road. The trail head is on the left, at the bottom of the hill, just past the stream crossing.

  • The white blazed trail heads west from Van Dyke Road. As you begin, take notice of the rocks on the left of the trail head. The tubular holes were formed by organisms that burrowed below the earth’s surface in search of food. Time, heat and pressure solidified the sediment into rock. The stone wall to the right stands in silent testimony to the toil of farmers who settled and worked this land.

    After passing a small kiosk, the trail wanders through a series of open meadows divided by hedgerows of multi-flora rose and blackberry. These fields are cut every few years to halt the successional process that slowly turns them into forests. Trails are cut seasonally (in autumn to protect grassland bird habitat) around the perimeter of these fields to allow for added exploration. After passing the second field, you will see a tributary of the Stony Brook on your left if you walk down the little side path. The Stony Brook is the major waterway in this area and meanders 21 miles where it joins up with the Millstone River at Lake Carnegie in Princeton.

    The trail continues to wander past old fields until it splits at .5 miles. Turning right, the trail climbs moderately through a stand of mixed evergreens including eastern red cedar and blue spruce. At the top of the hill, the trail turns left and follows the small ridge through a mixed oak-hickory forest with small stands of cedar. The trail turns left at .8 miles and in a few yards passes through a gap in the stone wall, and then begins to head down hill through the oak- hickory forest. NOTE: This turn is easy to miss! Watch for short marker with white arrow. The trail again passes through a gap in the stone wall and enters again into a meadow. Turning left, follow the trail past the split and back through the fields to the trailhead.

  • The Cedar Ridge Trail is a wonderful preserve that allows the hiker, birder, student or artist the ability to experience several different habitats over a very short distance. This preserve contributes to the preservation of the Stony Brook Cooridor, which has been one of D&R Greenway’s principle goals since its founding.

    The meadows are full of wildflowers including black-eyed susan, queen anne’s lace, dogbane and milkweed to name just a few. They are a great place for a variety of songbirds such as bluebirds, goldfinches and sparrows. Watch for monarch, black swallowtail and skipper butterflies in the summer. The meadows are also home to the meadow vole, the most common land mammal in the United States. This small rodent helps insure the survival of larger carnivores throughout the year. During the winter, look for evidence of foxes or skunks digging up vole nests and scan the tree line for red- tail hawks in search of their next meal.

    Look for tiny stonefly and mayfly nymphs in the stream as well as crayfish under the rocks. Skunk cabbage, with its unique flower, grows alongside the stream. In the spring and early summer, look for the large green leaves that identify this wetland plant.

    The mixed evergreen forest is home to eastern red cedar and blue spruce. The red cedar is actually a juniper whose bluish berries, borne on female trees, are used in the production of gin. Stands of mixed evergreen are favored day roosting spots of Great Horned and Screech owls. During the winter, it is not uncommon to find winter visitors such as Long Eared owls in spots such as these.

    The oak-hickory forest supports a wide variety of deciduous trees such as shagbark hickory, red and white oak, and ash. White tail deer and wild turkey frequent these places in search of acorns produced by the oaks. During the summer, listen for the plaintive song of the Wood Thrush and the harsh “teacher, teacher, teacher!” of the Ovenbird.

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  • D&R Greenway Land Trust began preserving land in this region in 1991. The preserve contains some walking trails. The Fullam Family first donated a conservation easement on the property and then came back 10 years later to deed the land to the D&R Greenway Land Trust.

    The land includes a stream corridor to the Stony Brook, wetlands, woodlands and habitat for wildlife. For more information on land preservation, please see D&R Greenway Land Trust.

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  • Photos

    Cedar Ridge Preserve

    Videos

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To report a trail or maintenance issue of a trail listed on this website, please email trailreport@drgreenway.org

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