Curlis Lake Woods Nature Preserve
Main Street, Pennington Borough, Mercer County, NJ


The hiking entrance is on South Main St. in Pennington Borough. As you drive south on Main Street look on your left for a large Board of Education building. Pass median of green lawn and trees on left and just beyond Baldwin Street you will see the trail entrance with chain across pathway and the Green Acres sign. Pull out on the East side of the street. There is space for five cars on the road shoulder at the South Main Street Entrance. (From the intersection of Route 642 and Main Street the entrance is 0.9 of a mile south and on the left.  It is almost opposite the house at 2631 Pennington Road.)

Mercer County Equestrian Center (MCEC): From Pennington follow Delaware Ave. East towards Princeton. Take Federal City Road (right fork) for .8 miles to MCEC on the right. Turn right up driveway and park in lot. There is space for 30 cars at MCEC.  The Lake Shore Trail begins to the far right side from the parking lot. Walk to the right of the fences.


The land  formerly belonged to the Howe Nursery. Mr. Howe had many plantings from the Southern Appalachians and some of these are found in the area.


Lake Shore Trail is 2.2 miles round trip;
The Main Trail to Rosedale Lake is 1.7 miles.
Markings: Howes Lane Trail - green (Marking by wooden stakes with colored tape); horses allowed.
Lake Shore Trail - blue (and with painted arrows on trees);
Redwood Trail - red;
Woodland Trail - orange; horses allowed.

Brooking Crossing  -- 10 minutes.
Curlis Lake -- 20 minutes.
Rosedale Lake --  50 minutes.

10/12/04.  The path starts right next to a busy road.  The beginning path is a wide one and it looks as if the grass is so short it looks mowed.  There is a lot of multiflora rose here that is constantly growing out into the alley way, but it was well trimmed.  About a hundred yards into the walk I come to a kiosk with a large map of the place.  (They mistakenly wrote "beach forest" instead of "beech forest.")  I study it to try to remember which paths I should take.  Continuing on the Howes Lane Trail, I can see the backyards of some large houses through the trees.  There is a small circular open area with some type of squat table. I arrive at a four-way intersection; turn right heading east; cross over a small stream and almost immediately start walking on a trail paralleling the brook.  There are a lot of trails near this starting point and can be a little confusing.  This will be the area to which I will return after a loop around the area.  I find my first trail marker, a stake with green tape wrapped around near its top.  There are a lot of beech trees here constituting that beech forest that the kiosk map indicated. 

The lake is long, but extremely narrow.  At times it looks like a wide canal.  I find I cannot walk the entire lake because for one there are houses on the opposite side and for the other I run into private property signs toward the end of the lake.  I return to a side trail I had seen earlier marked by the presence of a wide yew tree.  Heading east, the trail comes to what looks like a major trail since it is quite wide.  Turning right the trail goes south, then east.  At a T-intersection, I see on the left, fences of the Mercer County Equestrian Center.   I turn right, heading south again passing the back yards of houses.  There is a ditch on the left of the trail which crosses over the path and becomes a shallow gulley heading to the brook.  The path turns right heading west.  I return to the busy trail intersection area, re-cross the stream and head back the way I came. 

The trails are not well-marked, but since the area is not that large it is not that easy to get lost.  (Always travel with a compass!)  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant found in bloom on date of field trip, 10/12/04

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech) a beech forest
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juglans nigra (black walnut)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus sp. (crab apple) quite a bit of it
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus phellos (willow oak) ?
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Taxus sp. (yew)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Hibiscus syriacus (rose of Sharon)
Leucothoe sp. (leucothoe)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Photinia villosa (Oriental photinia) ?  horticultural escape
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (black berry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaved viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium tricoccum (wild leek)
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster novae-angliae (New England aster) *
Aster spp. (aster) *
Bidens sp. (beggar ticks)
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Centaurea nigra (black knapweed) *
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Epifagus virginiana (beech drops)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) *
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) *
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) *
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Pycnanthemum sp. (mountain mint)
Pyrola rotundifolia (round-leaved pyrola)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Sagittaria sp. (arrowhead)
Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod)
Trifolium repens (white clover) *

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Sorghastrum nutans (Indian nut grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Ferns and fern allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)

Central New Jersey Trail Association;