Dark Moon Preserve, Green NJ - 85 Acres
hiking at dark moon
The entirety of Dark Moon Preserve is open to the public, including horses, via a trailhead on County Route 519 in Newton, at the Warren/Sussex County line on Wintermute Rd. The parking area can accommodate groups and trailers. Equine trails are available in the farm fields and forest, and connect to nearby, long-standing trails on other properties.
The preserve consists of both fields and forest. The land was targeted for protection because the farm fields were vulnerable to development, and because it contains limestone rock exposures hosting rare plants, a pristine State Category One stream — Bear Brook — and an important archaeological site, the Dark Moon Site. The Site holds the remnants of a small Minisink settlement that is about 600 years old, dating to what is known as the Late Woodland Period. Archaeological digs uncovered numerous pottery shards, along with post holes that are the evidence of five separate lodges on the site. The Dark Moon Site appears to have been occupied seasonally, and there is evidence that is was abandoned abruptly, perhaps due to conquest of its occupiers by another tribe. The farm fields were converted to a native grass prairie. As of Spring 2011, 23 acres of fields have been planted with warm-season grasses that covered the American Prairie before the arrival of Europeans. They are beneficial to wildlife, providing cover for ground-nesting birds and habitat for beneficial insects. They also help recharge ground water and trap carbon in the soil to help combat global climate change.
Dark Moon Preserve was acquired by purchase in 2003 using grants from the Sussex County Open Space Trust Fund, the Green Township Open Space Trust, the Garden State Preservation Trust, and private funds raised by The Nature Conservancy (originally a co-owner of the property).