Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve Trail
Hopewell, NJ 08525
Overview of Selected Trail
Spanning 60,000 acres, the Sourlands region is a reservoir of biodiversity in central New Jersey. D&R Greenway has already facilitated the preservation of more than 3,400 acres in the Sourlands and is a leading partner with state, county and municipal officials, and private landowners, to continue preservation of this region. More than 150 bird species have been recorded in the Sourland forests. Numerous species require the large, unfragmented tracts of closed-canopy forest that remain in the Sourlands in order to breed successfully. Please check the following websites for more information: D&R Greenway Land Trust; Sourland Planning Council; Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association; and New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
The 375-acre Northern Stony Brook Greenway Preserve is owned by D&R Greenway Land Trust and is situated mainly in forest land around the headwaters of the Stony Brook. While listed under Hunterdon Co., the larger, southern portion of the Preserve is actually in Mercer Co. It is an important link in a chain of forested parcels that stretches for 60 miles along the ridge of Sourland Mountain.
Total of 7 miles of trails
Picnic Rock Loop: 2.1 miles (green markers and a segment of Mountain Church Rd.)
Double Crossing Loop: 1.5 miles (green markers and a segment of Mountain Church Rd.)
Mountain Road “Loops”: 2.4 miles (all segments of yellow, blue and orange trails.)
Sourlands Foothills Trail: 1.0 mile (orange markers)
Featherbed Meadows West Trail: 0.4 mile (yellow markers)
Rileyville Road Connector Trail (to parking lot): 0.3 mile (yellow markers)
Stony Brook Connector Trail: 0.3 mile (orange markers)
Anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on which trail loops you choose and how fast you walk.
D&R Greenway triangular trail markers posted on trees.
Walking/hiking only. No motorized vehicles, horses or bicycles. Dogs must be on leash at all times. No exceptions, please. This area provides critical wildlife habitat for ground nesting and ground feeding animals. Please have the courtesy to pick up after your dog. No stroller/wheelchair accessibility.
Minimal gain. 60 feet maximum.
Easy. There are boulders in a few sections along Stony Brook. Some sections of trail are wet, particularly heading north from Mountain Church Road to Picnic Rock. After unusually heavy rains the stream crossing with the handrail may be underwater. There is a good alternate spot to cross just 100 feet downstream which connects back to the trail.
Main Parking Area: A gravel parking lot for 8-10 cars on Mountain Road, 0.7 mile west of Rileyville Road in East Amwell Township.
Picnic Rock and Double Crossing Trails: Park along Mountain Church Road. There is no shoulder.
Rileyville Road Connector: Park in the Hunterdon County Sourlands Preserve parking lot across Rileyville Road, not on Rileyville Road. (see separate map and guide for this trail system.)
Featherbed Lane connector: Park in small lot on Featherbed Lane, 0.7 mile west of Rileyville Rd.
Sourlands Foothills Trail: Park in small lot just east of Hopewell-Wertsville Rd. on Featherbed Lane.
Walking/hiking only. Waterproof boots or shoes are recommended.
Deer hunting is allowed in this preserve, but is restricted to a small number of hunters who have received permission from D&R Greenway Land Trust. The deer hunting season extends from early September through mid February. There is no deer hunting on Sundays.
During deer hunting season, hikers should wear an orange hat, wear a brightly colored jacket or top, and stay on the trail.
Keep dogs on leash at all times.
Trailhead kiosks with posted maps at several trailheads within the trail network.
From Flemington to Mountain Rd. parking lot:
Take Route 202/31 South to Wertsville Rd. (Route 602, traffic signal after Sweet Valley Farm Market on right). Turn left (Eastward) on Route 602. Drive about 2 and ½ miles and turn right onto Runyon Mill Road. Drive about 1 mile to Mountain Road. Turn left onto Mountain Road and drive about 1 mile, looking for gravel parking lot and kiosk on the right.
From Princeton Area to Mountain Rd. parking lot:
From Route 206 going North from Lawrenceville, go left on Elm Road, which becomes The Great Road. In Blawenburg, go left on Route 518 to Hopewell Borough. At second light in Hopewell, turn right onto Greenwood Avenue. Road name will change to Hopewell-Wertsville Rd. and then to Rileyville Road. Go 3.1 miles to Mountain Road. Proceed 0.6 mile to the parking lot on the left.
Sourland Mountain Reservation parking lot is east of Rileyville Rd., 0.4 mile south of the Mountain Rd. intersection.
Mountain Church Rd runs to the west off Rileyville Rd. just south of Sourland Mountain Reservation.
Featherbed Lane intersects with Hopewell-Wertsville Rd. (continuation of Rileyville Rd.), 1.4 mile south of the Mountain Rd. – Rileyville Rd. intersection.
Mountain Road Loop 2.4 miles:
The yellow, blue and orange trails together are known as the 2.4 mile Mountain Road “Loop” on land also known as the McBurney Woods. The yellow loop is 1.3 mile long, the blue trail is 0.6 mile long, and the orange trail is 0.5 mile long. An actual loop skipping parts of the yellow trail would be 1.9 miles. Going west from the kiosk in the parking lot, this loop soon passes a small vernal pool, after which the yellow trail turns left and the Blue Trail portion begins straight ahead. After crossing a short orange trail which deadends to the right at Stony Brook, the loop rejoins the yellow trail, and then becomes sequentially the yellow/green, orange/green, and orange trails back to the parking lot.
Picnic Rock Loop 2.1 miles, including 0.35 mile along Mountain Church Rd. (This loop can be combined with the Double Crossing Loop to make a longer loop of 3.1 miles, with less than 0.1 mile along the road.):
This loop begins at the kiosk on the north side of Mountain Church Road 0.4 mile west of Rileyville Road. The trail is marked with green markers, at times combined with orange markers, and then yellow markers. The trail loop ends about 1/3 mile further west down Mountain Church Road. Park near the kiosk along the road. The road is narrow and there is no shoulder. Waterproof boots or shoes are recommended when the ground is wet because sections of the trail are often wet, especially the first trail section heading north from Mountain Church Road. After heavy rains, the stream crossing with the handrail may be under water for a few days. There is a good alternate spot to cross on boulders just 100 feet downstream, As the trail climbs gently up a slope from these wet woods, you’ll come across Picnic Rock, a wonderful place to sit and have a snack.
Part way along from the kiosk to the stream crossing, the yellow Rileyville Rd. connector trail runs east to the road. By turning right on the road for 100 yards, you reach the entrance to the Sourland Mountain Reservation parking lot.
Double Crossing Loop (so named because it crosses the Stony Brook twice) 1.5 miles, including 0.25 mile along Mountain Church Rd. (This loop can be combined with the Picnic Rock Loop to make a longer loop of 3.1 miles, with less than 0.1 mile along the road.):
This trail begins at a kiosk on the south side of Mountain Church Road, located 0.4 mile west of Rileyville Road, across from the Picnic Rock kiosk. Park near the kiosk along the road. The road is narrow and there is no shoulder. There is a house on private property in the doughnut hole of this trail loop. ATV trail damage from days past is evident in areas around this area. Further in, the trail goes through a stunning beech grove along the Stony Brook. In spring, look for wood ducks in quiet pools in the brook, and stoneflies on beech tree trunks during the hatch in April. There are boulders in the trail along the brook, and the two stream crossings are via boulders.
The forested tract is dominated by such species as American beech, shagbark hickory, black birch, red maple and tuliptree. Beneath the upper canopy, look for spicebush, viburnum, sassafras and dogwood. A wide variety of ferns such as Christmas fern and plants like jack-in-the-pulpit can be found along the forest floor.
The unbroken stretch of forest is prime habitat for forest interior birds. Ovenbirds, wood thrushes, Eastern wood pee-wee, veery and Eastern towhee are just a few birds that can be seen and heard in the forest. Other common birds include downy and red-bellied woodpeckers as well as wild turkey and great horned owls. Wet days are ideal for amphibians like green, pickerel and wood frogs as well as reptiles like box turtles. Mammals are also abundant including white-tailed deer, woodchuck, raccoon and opossum.
The rocks in the area are diabase and igneous argillite. Both are very hard and non-porous. Called “basaltic intrusion”, they are the result of an intrusion of the earth’s magma into the soil formation.
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