Reserve open daily, dawn to dusk; Center open M-F, 9 AM to 5 PM; Sa, 10 AM - 4 PM
(609) 737-3735 Website Google Maps
Gravitas: Hiking: Proximity:
The Stony Brook Reserve is a 930 acre site in Pennington, about 25 minutes from Trenton. It provides 10 miles of hiking trails, is home to Honey Brook Organic Farms, and supports one of largest and most active Nature Centers in NJ. All of this is organized by the Stony Brook/Millstone Watershed Association, which claims to be the oldest environmental group in Central NJ, founded in 1949.
The center supports a comprehensive program of events and education programs for adults, families, and kids. The center partners with the Arts Council of Princeton to provide nature-focused art instruction. There’s also a permanent “geocaching” treasure hunt, where you can use a GPS to find hidden objects within the preserve.
As a hiking destination, the site is suited principally for beginners. The land is almost entirely flat. Judging from the large number of boardwalks built along the trails, in wet season, many will be muddy. The site is a mix of meadows and forest cover: some old, some relatively recent, mostly deciduous. After a snow fall, the reserve is open for XC skiing, and the forest cover, relatively wide winding trails, and flatness makes it an ideal site for beginner skiers.
If you do decide to traverse the trail system, the Stony Brook itself makes a nice destination. Near the river, you’ll pass the “Hobbit Tree”, a dramatic old beech tree that’s pretty spectacular. There’s a small clearing, and seats for parents to rest up while the kids fantasize about Mordor (or perhaps it’s the other way around).
But the real distinction here is the Nature Center and the programs they run. Definitely worth checking out.