Trail Guides
Franklin Parker Preserve

Route 532, Chatsworth, NJ
Phone: (908) 234-1225

OWNER:  New Jersey Conservation Foundation & New Jersey Division of Parks & Forestry

DIRECTIONS:  From the parking area at Oswego Lake, turn Right onto CR 563/Chatsworth Road. After 7.7 miles, continue onto CR 563/Main Street, entering Chatsworth. After 0.7 miles turn Left onto CR 532/Tabernacle Chatsworth Road. Proceed 1.3 miles until the road curves Right after Chatsworth Lake. Turn Left onto the sand road and park along the tree line, near a gate where you will see signs for the Franklin Parker Preserve.

DIRECTIONS FROM NEAREST HIGHWAY:  From the intersection of Route 206 and Route 70 at Red Lion traffic circle, proceed South on Route. 206. After 2.7 Miles turn Left on CR 532, Medford Lakes/ Chatsworth Rd. Continue on CR 532 East. After 10.1 miles, you will cross over a small branch of the Wading River. Shortly after this, turn Right onto a sand road before the paved road curves left. This sand road is across from Chatsworth Lake. Park to the left along the tree line, and walk in past the gate, where you will see signs for the Franklin Parker Preserve.   Map

ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Equestrian Trails

A CLOSER LOOK:  To reach a second entrance to the preserve, known as the Speedwell entrance, exit the preserve and turn Right on CR 532, Chatsworth Road. After 0.7 miles turn Right on CR 563/New Gretna-Chatsworth Road. After 2.8 miles, turn left onto a wide sand road, traveling East and park along the treeline to the left. Do not turn onto the second sand road beyond this, which is a private driveway.

Timber Rattlesnake
Timber RattlesnakeTony Geiger
SITE DESCRIPTION:  The acquisition of the Franklin Parker Preserve in 2003 by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation was a momentous occasion in conservation. This 9400 acre preserve is a keystone piece of land, linking the expanses of Brendan Byrne, Wharton, and Penn State Forests and creating a more contiguous, and therefore more viable, Pinelands National Reserve. Franklin Parker Preserve offers access to a wide variety of Pine Barrens habitat by way of sand roads. Pitch-pine forests and cedar swamps are joined by blueberry fields, lakes, and pristine tributaries of the Wading River. The former cranberry bogs are currently being restored to a variety of native wetland habits. The preserve is home to an impressive array of rare flora and fauna, including numerous State threatened and endangered species, and even some nationally and globally rare species. This is also a great area for stargazing.

DON'T MISS:  As of early 2010, an active Bald Eagle nest was at the preserve, offering views of these majestic birds on their way back from the brink of extinction.

Winter:  Raptors are active in fields and over lakes and bogs. Look for Northern Harrier, Red-Tailed hawk, and the occasional Rough-legged hawk in fields. Bald Eagles and Red-shouldered hawks can be found near lakes and bogs. Barred Owl may be calling near dawn and dusk in wet woodlands. Tundra Swans and Canada Geese are abundant in old bogs, as well as Snow Geese and a variety of ducks. Listen for the rattling call of the Belted Kingfisher, a year-round resident. Winter is the best time to catch glimpses of or track elusive mammals such as coyote, red and gray fox, mink and the endangered bobcat.
Spring:  Spring peepers and pine barrens treefrogs begin to call after spring rains, as well as green frogs, leapord frogs, fowler’s toads, spadefoot toads, and many more. Orchids bloom in low, wet clearings in the woodlands, which are also good places to look for the diminutive curly-grass fern. At anywhere from two to five inches high, this fern can easily overlooked or mistaken for a moss. Migration brings a wide array of birds through this area, with different species utilizing different habitats. It is easy to travel from open water to pitch pine to field habitat, maximizing time to find as many different birds as possible. Look and listen for warblers, vireos, and thrushes in woodlands and edges. Shorebirds such as Spotted Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, and Killdeer utilize bogs and mudflats. Waterfowl such as green and blue-winged teal, wood duck, and pied-billed grebe can be found on open water.
Summer:  Look for the purple flowers of Pine Barrens gentian along trail edges, and the white flowers of Pine Barrens sandwort growing along the roads. Watch resident birds such as Eastern Phoebe, Pine Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, and Cedar Waxwing hunt and forage for food to feed their young. In addition to breeding birds, over 1500 species of insect have been identified at the preserve, including numerous butterflies and dragonflies over the ponds and fields. An array of interesting moths can be found in woodlands on bark and among foliage and flowers. Log piles and old buildings are good places to look for fence lizard and five-lined skink. Keep a sharp eye and ear on the sand roads for passing pine snakes and the elusive timber rattlesnake. Although venomous, the timber rattlesnake is usually timid and shy, and will not strike unless provoked. Timber rattlesnake is so rare in Southern New Jersey that a sighting should be considered a real treat.
Fall:  Butterflies are active into October. The fall months bring Northern birds back through as they migrate to their wintering sites further South. Watch for raptors such as Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Kestrel, Cooper’s, Broad-winged, and Sharp-shinned Hawks overhead. Migrating songbirds include Black-and-white, Blackpoll, and Palm Warblers, as well as Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Overwintering Ring-necked and Black Ducks arrive, among others.

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