Trail Guides
Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve

County Road 519/Dark Moon Road, Frelinghuysen Township, NJ
Phone: (908) 879-7262

OWNER:  The Nature Conservancy

DIRECTIONS:  Return to CR 517 North and after 2.3 miles bear Left onto CR 667 North. After 0.2 miles bear Left onto CR 612 North/Johnsonburg Road and proceed another 5.1 miles turning Right at stop sign onto Main Street. Main Street will become CR 519/Dark Moon Road. Travel approximately 1.0 mile and directly after the railroad tunnel look on the Left side of the road for a mailbox labeled 1119. Make a very sharp Left turn into the one lane dirt driveway and follow it back to the parking area.   Map
ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk. No handicapped access is available. Trails are for hiking only. Pets are not allowed. No fishing or hunting is allowed. Trails are marked with The Nature Conservancy oak-leaf trail tags, but not excessively so; therefore a compass or GPS unit is strongly recommended. Black bears are present.

Rue Anemone
Rue AnemoneRick Radis
SITE DESCRIPTION:  Johnsonburg Swamp is a botanical jewel and has a national reputation among naturalists and botanists. Limestone sinkholes and vernal ponds on the tract host a number of globally rare plant species which only occur in these extraordinary, specialized habitats. Over 40 rare plant species have been recorded here, including uncommon orchids, limestone-loving ferns, seldom-seen insectivorous plants, threatened or endangered grasses and sedges and fen specialists. Fens differ from bogs and marshes because they are fed by surface or groundwater rather than precipitation. Johnsonburg has a scenic overlook atop limestone cliffs and also a pond, host to Green and Great Blue Herons, Wood Duck, and, occasionally, the Common Moorhen and endangered Pied-billed Grebe.

DON'T MISS:  The large Ordovician-era limestone ledges and boulders are spectacular natural flower gardens, and often appear arranged with a Zen-like sensibility. In season they are festooned with blooms of rock cress, columbine, rue anemone, hepatica, bloodroot, goldenrods, asters, snakeroots and the evergreen leaves of walking fern, a hard-to-find species which appears to “walk” down the rocks.

Winter:  This is the best time to examine the Paleozoic geology of the site - the limestone ledges and large boulders, the cliffs and other rocky features. Many ferns such as walking fern, spleenworts and marginal woodfern are evergreen, adding color to the muted tones of winter. Barred Owl is present year-round and occasionally calls in winter.
Spring:  Late March sees the advent of flowering trailing arbutus and marsh marigold, and April and May are the best time for the spring ephemeral wildflower show, which is spectacular. Red-shouldered Hawk returns to nest in March. Thrushes, vireos, tanagers and warblers return in late April, and migrant waves of these birds are occasional in May.
Summer:  This season is a good time to visit the fern show that is Johnsonburg in midsummer. Over twenty-five species can be counted in a few hours, including scarce or rare species such as wall rue, purple-stemmed cliff brake, walking fern, Clinton’s fern and Goldie’s fern.
Fall:  Fall foliage is at its best, and flowering composites such as asters and goldenrods are at their peak in September and October. Once the leaves are down, it’s a good time to look for the elusive Ruffed Grouse, which still breeds here.

ButterfliesHiking TrailsParkingWildflowers