Trail Guides
Paulinskill River Wildlife Management Area - Hyponex Section

Route 94, Lafayette Township, NJ
Phone: (973) 383-0918

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Follow Goodale Road North. After 1.9 miles turn Left at the stop sign onto CR 616 West/Newton-Sparta Road. Proceed 0.2 miles and turn Left at the traffic light onto CR 616 West. After 1.1 miles, turn Right onto CR 663 North/Hicks Avenue. After 4.3 miles turn Left onto Route 94 South. After 0.5 miles turn Left into the dirt road entrance. The sign and road are easy to miss. Look for the Paulinskill Wildlife Management Area sign just after Carson Roberts sign and before the yellow school bus sign. For additional access and parking return to CR 663 South. After 0.5 miles look for parking, sanitary facility and trail access, continue 2.9 miles for parking and access to lower section.   Map
ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily unless engaged in a legal hunting, fishing, or trapping activity. The primary parking area and access road off Route 94 are not well defined and may be inaccessible in winter. For a map of Hyponex, go to www.sussexcountybirdclub.org/06%20Miscellaneous/0603.html. This site is pet friendly, although horses are not permitted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:  A great walking loop starts from the primary parking lot. Walk past the gate on the haul road to the first impoundment. After a careful scan of the area, continue to the far end of the impoundment and cross the Paulinskill Bridge to the cattail marsh. Although not well marked, from here take the Sussex Branch Trail, which runs north and eventually intersects the Paulinskill Valley Trail going west and returns to the parking area on the haul road.

A CLOSER LOOK:  This entire region is located in the Ridge and Valley geologic region which is characterized by limestone bedrock. Resulting uplands, wetlands and open water habitats are prime areas for a diversity of the flora and fauna species. It is little wonder this area has been described as a “Noah’s Ark” of wildlife.

Least Bittern - Female
Least Bittern - FemaleKevin Karlson
SITE DESCRIPTION:  The 1,000 acre Hyponex section of the Paulinskill WMA is an excellent example of an old glacial lake that was mined for peat. It includes open water as well as swampy areas - all of which provide excellent habitat for waterfowl and wading birds as well as a wide variety of raptors and songbirds. Isolated uplands in various stages of secondary succession, open and forested wetlands and open water make for excellent edge habitat. Sight distances can approach a half a mile.

DON'T MISS:  the cacophony of bird and amphibian calls at sunrise and sunset. This is most prevalent during late spring.

Winter:  Natural springs can keep small portions of the wetlands and impoundments from completely freezing, making this WMA a good place to observe waterfowl when surrounding areas are frozen. Adjacent rail trails and former flat-haul roads make this area accessible to birding while cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
Spring:  Almost any species of migrating bird using the Atlantic Flyway might be observed. Bird sighting records from the Sussex County Bird Club document that this location is especially good during the early portion of the spring migration. There have been rare sightings of Least Bittern, Eurasian Wigeon and King Rail, along with the equally impressive American Bittern, Red-necked Grebe and Dunlin.
Summer:  Portage a canoe or kayak about 200 yards to the first launch site and explore hundreds of acres of wetlands and open water. The Paulinskill River is stocked with trout at Warbasse Junction and is a popular fishing location.
Fall:  During dry years, exposed mud flats attract migrating shorebirds and other wading birds. Migrating waterfowl are abundant, except during hunting season. Scan distant ridge tops for raptors as they fly southward; warm air rises and creates thermal air masses which aide their migratory movements.

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