Limestone Forest, Hardwick NJ - 396 Acres
hiking at limestone forest
Limestone Forest Preserve is privately owned. Public access is provided via a hiking trail that can be accessed from Sunset Lake Rd., north of Happiness is Camping. Visitors may park along the east side of Sunset Lake Rd. and walk around the green gate. Look for RVC trail markers and be sure to stay on the trail to avoid trespassing on private property. The preserve is also connected to White Lake Wildlife Management Area to the south.
The Limestone Forest Preserve is a classic example of what is known as “karst topography.” Karst is land underlain by cavernous limestone that has a unique set of features. Natural dissolving of the limestone causes sinkholes, caves, disappearing streams, springs, and a unique terrain known as “pinnacle and trough,” wherein limestone rock ridges alternate with valleys giving a “washboard” effect to the land. The preserve contains a disappearing stream, where drainage from hundreds of upland acres sinks into a sinkhole pond. Several prominent sinkhole depressions are found throughout the preserve. Runoff from the forest collects in these depressions and replenishes the limestone aquifer. Unique plants grow around the sinkhole pond and directly on the limestone. One of these, hepatica (liverwort), creates a special display of pink blooms on the rock faces in late spring. The forest hosts a dramatic variety of ferns and fungi. Black bear and bobcat roam the forest, which is also home to deep woods songbirds such as the wood thrush, pileated woodpecker, and a variety of migrating warblers.
The conservation easement on Limestone Forest Preserve was acquired by purchase in two separate stages, in 1998 (in partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation) and 2001, using grants from the Garden State Preservation Trust, the Warren County Open Space Trust Fund, and Hardwick Township.