In 1958 Western Electric, later to become AT&T, built the nation’s first corporate campus for research and education on Carter Road in Hopewell Township. One of the many advances to come out of this facility is lasers. In 2016 this campus was torn down and became a wildlife preserve with 387 acres of meadows, shrub land and forest, and four miles of hiking trails.
When you first pull into this preserve, its corporate history is marked by the remains of the asphalt parking lots and the two office chairs set mysteriously off on opposite hillsides in the distance. The trailhead is confusing to locate, and the Lawrence Highland Trail also intersects in this park. We wanted to make a complete loop of the Mt. Rose Preserve, so we began walking to the metal gates.
The trail is dirt, grass, and gravel. Walk across the field. We could hear birds singing in the trees all around us. Make a right at the white trail marker and cross the small bridge. When you come to the deer enclosure, make a left. The scent of honeysuckle was everywhere on this beautiful Spring day. The understory growth is also very thick already. I suggest the liberal use of tick spray before entering this park.
Continue across another bridge over the brook. The Honey Brook and the Cleveland Brook both run through the preserve, and they are tributaries to Stony Brook. There are lots of beautiful cedar trees in this part of the woods. There is a clearing which we speculate held structures at some point.
Once you cross the second brook, there are lots of beech trees. This forest is over 100 years old and contains a nice mixture of red cedars and mixed hardwood trees. As you walk the grounds here, you can’t help but be struck by the magic of forest restoration.
There were no other people the day we went, and I was lucky enough to observe a fox foraging for food under an old log. The only sounds were the birds in the trees and the wind through the leaves as we walked this solitary path.
The trail will loop you back around the deer enclosure and take you out to the parking lot. This location was initially scheduled for redevelopment. We should all be very grateful to the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Spaces and their partners for their hard work in saving this location from suburban sprawl. This park is a special place to get away and reconnect with the beauty and wonder of nature.
“The world is a rose, smell it and pass it on to your friends.” – Persian proverb