When most of us think of Educational Testing Service (ETS), we have bad flashbacks to High School SAT exams and the anxiety of college applications. What most people aren’t aware of are the beautiful grounds surrounding the campus of this institution located just outside Princeton, in Lawrenceville, and the over 2 miles of trails that run alongside Stony Brook.
Great Hiking Spot
To get in a healthy 2.5-mile loop, we parked at the dead-end on Province Line Road. The road ends just before a bridge that has been closed for vehicular traffic. The trailhead is opposite the private homes and is marked. You’ll find yourself walking on a nice rock and leaf-strewn path. At the first juncture, bear right. Continue walking and you’ll come to a bridge. Follow right along the Stony Brook.
Walking along the river is beautiful, especially in the spring when the first signs of greenery such as skunk cabbage, daffodils, and random wildflowers start appearing along the riverside. I lost count of the numerous little wooden bridges volunteers have constructed for crossing over the muddy little tributaries that run into Stony Brook.
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The trail is not strenuous, but there are some ups and downs so the hike is not flat or boring. On the left, some nice rock formations reminded me of the boulders in the Sourlands, not far away. The trail was quiet and we hardly saw any other hikers on this beautiful Sunday. That’s exactly why we chose this spot.
Once you leave the river stay straight across the jogging trails intersection. You’ll be on a paved road but only for 50 yards. Make a right back into the woods. This part of the trail will lead you through a pretty forest that surrounds the ETS Campus. At the end of the field go right on the road past the charging stations. Follow the paved path all the way around the parking lot. Make a right into the gas line cut across from “Assessment Road.”
Back into the woods, you’ll find you are on a nice grassy path. Continue on this path and make a right after the second bridge. This will put you back along the original trail and lead you back out to your starting point. One of the nicest features about this trail is it links up with two other trails in the area, should you wish to continue hiking. The Lawrence Hopewell Trail and The Stony Brook Trail all converge at our starting point, the closed bridge.
This isn’t the nature trail for you if you a looking for a strenuous hike; it isn’t the trail with the sweeping amazing views. However, it is a beautiful slice of nature carved out of a corporate campus that is being preserved and shared with the community. It’s a place one can truly take a walk along the river and be alone with nature and alone with one’s inner thoughts.
“You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.” – Jim Harrison, Novelist & Poet