DEER PATH PARK
West Woodschurch Road, Readington Township, Hunterdon County, NJ
104 acres


Directions:

from the Flemington Area:
Take Route 31 north about 4 miles from the Flemington Circle. Turn right onto West Woodschurch Road, following the signs for Deer Path Park and the YMCA. Proceed about 0.7 miles on West Woodschurch Road to the entrance to the park on the right. The YMCA's entrance is the immediate right off of the driveway. Continue pass the YMCA entrance. The parking lot for the soccer fields will be visible on the left-hand side of the driveway. The main parking lot for the park is located at the end of the driveway near the rest rooms.

from the Clinton Area:
Take Route 31 south about 6.5 miles from Interstate 78. Turn left onto West Woodschurch Road at the signs for Deer Path Park and the YMCA. Then follow the corresponding directions above.


History:

Deer Path was originally owned by Alois and Berta Batz, who used the land for agricultural purposes. 

1967 --  they established a summer camp on the property for children. The pond was expanded to it current size. Storage sheds were converted to picnic pavilions and a shower house for the camp was constructed. An estimated 125 children visited the camp each year.

1977  --  the county acquired the property.

1980  -- eight acres were subdivided from the property for the construction of the Hunterdon County YMCA.
 

(Source: http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/depts/parks/guides/DeerPath.htm)


Facilities:  

picnic pavilions with grills, play area, softball field, pond, trails, soccer fields.

Uses: hiking, group picnics, corporate picnics, softball, fishing, X-country skiing, jogging, horseback riding (where designated).


Round Mountain Section

Across the street, West Woodschurch Road, from the soccer fields, is the Round Mountain section of the park.  The walk is a figure 8, with the field in the lower half and the forest and field in the upper half.  The walk goes clockwise, starting from the base of the figure 8.

Located on the southern slope of Round Mountain, this 55 acre section of Deer Path Park features a trail for nature study and horseback riding that traverses through varying terrain of fields, pine forests, mature woodlands, rocky outcroppings, and a panoramic view of the Sourland Mountains.  Self-guiding nature trail maps are available near the Round Mountain entrance sign.  Present access starts from the parking areas in Deer Path Park with trails leading to West Woodschurch Road.  

The Peter Buell Trail:  This trail was named in honor of a former employee: Peter Buell.  He initiated and continued to be instrumental in creating trails and trail networks within the county.  The Peter Buell Trail branches off near the top of the self-guided Nature Trail and spans across Round Mountain.  The trail eventually brings hikers out to Foothill Road. 


Nature Trail Stations

1.  the living fence  -- rows of osage orange (Maclura pomifera) trees with their large greenish fruit, which children often call "monkey brains"

2. agriculture/open space --  a field

3.  pin oak (Quercus palustris)

4. stream and bedrock --  exposed the Brunswick shale bedrock.  This rock, deposited under the Atlantic Ocean about 160 million years ago, is red because of large amounts of rusted iron present in it.  

5.  eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

6.  white ash (Fraxinus americanus)

7.  white pine (Pinus strobus) grove

8.  stone wall

9. young growth forest --  transitional stage from field to forest; sassafras, eastern red cedar, white ash, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)

10.  power line cut

11.  hidden hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

12.  Round Mountain  - formed by volcanic activity during the Triassic period.  The 600 foot mountain, characterized by gray rocks known as diabase, was once a favored site for logging, as it is too rugged for farming.

13.  dead tree

14.  American beech (Fagus grandifolia)

15.  competition

16.  pit and rim  - dead tree

17.  old farm road

18.  scenic view -- a view of the Sourland Mountains to the south

19.  birdhouses  -- nesting boxes for many species, especially bluebirds

20.  invading plants --  multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)


Trails:

3/26/2005 --  Rosemary and Carl Cooney, Ceferino Santana and dog Sonar took a hike up Round Mountain.  But we first decided to take a hike around the small lake just down from the main parking lot.  Nice walk in a very park-like setting with picnic tables in various places.  We then walked through the field north to West Woodschurch Road; we turned right and walked along the road until we came to the main entrance gate for the walk up Round Mountain.  In order to follow the self-guided tour in the correct chronological order one should make the walk starting in a clockwise direction.  We, however, did not do this.  We went counter-clockwise.  The bottom circle of the figure 8 heads around the huge field.  There is a lot of damage to the trails caused by the horses.  The water collects in the pits the horses' hooves make.  This made the walk considerably muddy and therefore not the most pleasant.  We passed by a white pine grove and later crossed over an electric power cut.  There is a view toward the Sourland Mountain Ridge.  It looks pretty far away with just the naked eye.  We arrive at the 400 foot level at the top of the figure 8.  This top circle of the figure 8 is labeled the South Section Hunting Area.  The highest point of Round Mountain is 600 feet, but the trail does not go to this elevation.  It goes east of the 600 foot level, making only a height of 500 feet.  It then descends to the north through the North Section Hunting Area and the parking lot off Foothill Road. 

We head downhill on the western side of the figure 8.  The path was wet on this side too.  We came out to the huge field, walked along the western side and back to the entry gate for the Round Mountain walk.  Re-cross West Woodschurch Road and walked back to the parking lot and our car.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney. 


Wildlife:

Woodland birds such as Wood Thrush, and Warblers, such as Common Yellowthroat and Black-throated Blue, have been seen within the park.  Wild Turkeys are also a common site.  Bluebird and Kestrel boxes have been installed to increase nesting opportunities for these species. 

Whitetail Deer are common and sightings of Red Fox have been frequently reported.  There are also Raccoons and Striped Skunks.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant found in bloom on date of field trip, 03/26/2005


Trees:
Acer negundo (ash leaf maple)
Acer saccharum 'Green Mountain' (sugar maple) planted
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Maclura pomifera (osage orange)  hedge of it
Pinus sp. (pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Shrubs:
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Pieris sp. (andromeda) planted
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Taxus sp. (yew)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis spp. (fox grape)

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress) *
Centaurea cyanus (bachelor's button) planted
Cirsium sp. (thistle) 
Coreopsis tinctoria (plains coreopsis) planted
Cosmos bipinnatus (cosmos) planted
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket)
Linum lewisii (blue flax) planted
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil)
Pycnanthemum sp. (mountain mint)
Rudbeckia hirta (gloriosa daisy)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)

Grasses:
Andropogon virginicus (blue stem grass) ?
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass) 
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)