Greater Mountain Lakes

Greater Mountain Lakes, Princeton, NJ (12/23/2012)

I had never heard of this area until my friend Shawnee, and her human companion Daniela, hiked this enchanting and quite varied area last week. But unlike Shawnee & Daniela who ventured onto the trails of Princeton Day School and Woodfield Reservation across Great Road, we focused on the area bounded by Mountain Avenue, Cherry Hill Road, Stuart Road and Great Road.

Parking in the large parking lot on Mountain Avenue, and using this map we covered nearly 5 miles in a hike too complicated to describe here. Suffice it to say, this map is very accurate and with the very good blazing and excellent signs at so many trail intersections, it's very difficult to get lost. So instead of trying to follow the hike we did, venture forth where you can easily cover Community Park North, John Witherspoon Woods, Mountain Lakes North and Mountain Lakes. We even added a walk along the impressive boardwalk south of Coventry Farm.

One thing you will notice is that Hurricane Sandy obliterated sections of this park, and yet the park is open! For instance, the area just north of the parking lot, in Community Park North seems to have more fallen pines than pines standing. It literally feels like a war zone. The same is true for the area northeast of Mountain Lakes House, another war zone. It's a miracle that any trail in this park is open, and yet all of them are.

Total distance covered was nearly 5 miles in just over 2.5 hours.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

Large parking lot

Garden marker

Bridge at lake

Bicycle path along lake

Oh my!

Sculpture on island in lake

Flock of Seagulls!


Unnamed lake

Unamed photographer [photo by Laura]

Path north of lake

Skating tomfoolery

Laura on previously-mentioned bridge

Tree roots

Major destruction ...

... from Hurricane Sandy ...

... to the pines of ...

... Community Park North

Two vultures

Camera shy bird



Steps at creek

Farm edge

Gorgeous sky

Heading north

Typical blaze

Hitchcock's "The Birds"?

Mourning Dove

Excellent signs

Damage NE of Mountain Lakes House

Dozens ...

... of toppled trees ...

... NE of ML House


Barbed wire fence

Typical blaze being eaten

In John Witherspoon Woods

[Photo by Laura]

Boulder field in JW Woods

Path to ...

... Devil's Cave

Ms. Beelzebub inside

View from inside

Looking out

Old graffiti?


Some blowdowns

Creek crossing

Sphagnum moss

Gravel path


Easy crossing

Beautiful creek

The map on a sign

Nicely maintained trail

Damaged bridge

First view of Palmer Lake

Old stone bridge

Mountain Lakes House

Canada Geese in Palmer Lake

View from stone bridge

Geese in Palmer Lake

Spillway near house

Cleared path west of lake

Mountain Lakes House across Palmer Lake

Palmer Lake dam

Palmer Lake from southern tip

Napping geese

Mourning Dove

Boardwalk looking west


The boardwalk is south of ...

... Coventry Farm


Antoher creek

Another crossing

Restrooms locked for season

Photographs and content copyright © Dan Balogh
Web design by Dan Balogh