Witherspoon Woods / Mountain Lakes

Witherspoon Woods / Mountain Lakes

Princeton Parks & Recreation Department
Cherry Hill Rd, Princeton, NJ
Open daily, sunrise to sunset
(609) 924-8720   Website    Google Maps     Trail Map GeoPDF

Gravitas:   Challenge:     Proximity:

Special notes for parents
This is a lovely trail with kids. Easy to walk and interesting. The Devil’s Den and other boulder formations are within a few hundred yards of the Witherspoon Woods trail head, so you can make this a very short hike with young kids, if you want. All but the youngest children should be able to walk this entire route, gaining experience for more difficult hikes later.

Noblesse Oblige

Today, this is probably the nicest city-managed hiking preserve in Mercer County.  It’s about the only one where you can actually hike for 90+ minutes on well-maintained trails. During the early days of COVID, when state and county parks were closed, it provided the only hiking you could find open in the area. Thank you, Princeton!

Thankfully, in recent years, Princeton has gotten serious about preserving open space.  In the last decade, it added Witherspoon Woods to its park system and trail network (NE corner of the trail system).  It’s only 40 acres, but it adds charming terrain and a slightly more challenging way to access the Mountain Lakes Preserve.  I stumbled upon it by accident and fell in love with it.  Connected to the Mountain Lakes trail system, and especially the Coventry Farm view trail (another new addition) it’s worth checking out, especially if you want to do other things in Princeton.  Click on the map to enlarge.  Download the Trail Map (link above), and if you follow the directions here, you can use your phone as a GPS as you explore the system.

You can park for free either at the main Mountain Lakes parking lot, or on Cherry Hill Road.  I would strongly urge you to use the latter: it’s smaller and much more interesting.  Just look for the discrete, white park sign marking the driveway on your left as you approach from 206.

The terrain here is gently rolling.  Really, it’s a very easy hike except for the fact that the Witherspoon Woods trails are rocky, making footing occasionally difficult, and drainage is poor, so it can be muddy in the wet seasons.  Even with these concerns, I still rate this trail as suitable for beginners (though you’re warned).  In addition, there’s enough elevation shift to make the terrain interesting and provide a little extra aerobic value.

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