|Raven Rock Road, Delaware Township, NJ |
Phone: (908) 782-1158
Hunterdon Count; Hunterdon Land Trust
Turn Left out of the Prallsville Mill parking area back onto Route 29 North. Almost immediately, veer Right onto CR 519 and travel 1.0 mile. Turn Left onto Raven Rock Road. Travel 0.8 miles and turn Right into the Wescott Nature Preserve.
Note: For a side trip to the Green Sergeant’s Covered Bridge while on the way to Westcott Nature Preserve, instead of turning Left on Raven Rock Road, follow CR 519 when it turns Right in Rosemont Village, and almost immediately turn Right onto CR 604. Proceed approximately 1.8 scenic miles to the covered bridge. Use care as there is minimal roadside parking available. Return to Rosemont Village and continue to the Wescott Nature Preserve. Map
3a) To Zega-Lockatong Preserve
Turn Right out of Wescott Nature Preserve and travel 0.9 miles. Turn Right into the small parking area just after the bridge.
Open daily dawn to dusk. Trails in both areas have some steep and narrow sections with exposed roots and rocks. There is no official trail to cross the creek from one section to the other; crossing the creek during high water is hazardous. Deer hunting is allowed by special permit. Contact the county parks department or visit www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/hunting/instruct.htm for hunting and fishing seasons and regulations. Visitors are encouraged to wear bright colors or confine visits to Sundays, when there is no hunting.
Hunterdon County is chock full of history from the first native inhabitants to the first European settlers. Evidence of an earlier lifestyle is still apparent even as nature reclaims the landscape. The small John Reading School, constructed in 1861, stands where a school has been located since 1796. The brick springhouse was used to keep products such as milk cool during summer months.
When exploring rock pools on the creek, take note of the rock formations framing the creek habitat. The rocks that appear stacked are argillite and are composed of hardened clay-sized particles. The Lenni Lenape Indians, who had settlements in the area, used these stones to craft tools and weapons.
|Eastern Bluebird||Scott Elowitz
||The Westcott Preserve and the Zega-Lockatong Preserve are on either side of Lockatong Creek, a native brook trout stream. The Westcott Preserve, accessed from the first Raven Rock Road parking area, was the first park in the extensive Hunterdon County Parks Department inventory. A loop trail from this parking area transects meadow and woodland habitat and includes access to the creek, the focal point of this area. To gain access to the Zega-Lockatong Preserve, which is owned by the Hunterdon Land Trust, continue to the second parking area. Mimi’s Trail connects with the trail that allows access to the rest of the Westcott Preserve on the opposite side of Lockatong Creek and continues on the Peters’ Trail on another Hunterdon Land Trust property. Please view the county website for all access points to this preserve.
hiking to Lockatong Creek. Wait quietly to observe white-tailed deer, raccoon or some of the great variety of bird species taking advantage of the creek’s fresh, clean water.
With deciduous leaves gone, it is easy to enjoy an unobstructed view of the landscape. Winter resident birds can be found; White-breasted Nuthatch and Tufted Titmouse are common, and this is one of a few areas in New Jersey where observers can see both Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees. Dribbles of whitewash on tree trunks indicate the presence of owls. Both Great Horned and Screech Owls find this landscape hospitable.
As is the case elsewhere in New Jersey, spring migration yields the greatest number of species. Most large tracts of woodlands will harbor birds passing through or establishing territories. With diligent searching, it is possible to hear both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos; although it is hard to see them perched in the foliage, each can be identified by its distinctive call. Wildflowers add color to the fresh green pigments of spring, attracting spring butterflies such as the delicately colored Spring Azure.
The flurry of spring migration fades into the concerted effort of raising young. Eastern Bluebird and American Kestrel, which is a species in decline, take advantage of the meadow habitat and nesting boxes. Abundant insect life such as grasshoppers and katydids are a ready food supply for these grassland breeders. A hot summer day is the perfect time to explore the stream. Tranquil rock pools shelter crayfish, frogs and fish fry.
Southbound migrants return with early species starting to move by mid-August. It is more of a challenge to identify songbirds in the fall, as coloring is drab and birds are in the midst of molting breeding feathers into basic plumage; gone are the exuberant territorial songs of spring. In fall, short indiscriminate chip notes are indicators of a bird to be spotted.