Trail Guides
KEEP Conservation Preserve, Port Republic

Chestnut Neck Road, Port Republic, NJ
Phone: (212) 254-9213

OWNER:  Keep Conservation

DIRECTIONS:  From Scotts Landing Road, turn Left and then bear bear Right onto Moss Mill Road. After 1.5 miles turn Right on Route 9, then make the first Left onto Old New York Road. After 2.4 miles, cross the bridge into Port Republic and keep Right to merge onto CR 575/Chestnut Neck Road. After 2.0 miles, turn Right into the entrance for KEEP Conservation Preserve, just beyond a farm stand.

DIRECTIONS FROM NEAREST HIGHWAY:  From the Garden State Parkway, exit at mile 41 through the rest stop, and follow signs for Jimmie Leeds Road. Turn Right at the traffic light onto Jimmie Leeds Road. After 0.4 miles, turn Left onto Great Creek Road. After 1.4 miles, turn Left onto Pitney Road. After 3.0 miles, cross the bridge into Port Republic, and keep Right to merge onto CR 575/Chestnut Neck Road. After 2.0 miles, turn Right into the entrance for KEEP Conservation Preserve, just beyond a farm stand.   Map

ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk. Green sign and gate at entrance. Minimal parking. No pets, motor vehicles, hunting, or trapping.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed HawkTony Geiger
SITE DESCRIPTION:  Port Republic Preserve is a little-known piece of land along the Nacote Creek managed by the KEEP Conservation Foundation. With 83 acres of woodland, freshwater wetland, field and salt marsh habitat, the preserve has an excellent diversity of wildlife and something to see in every season - from migratory birds to unique plants, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians.

DON'T MISS:  Visit in summer when butterflies and dragonflies abound in the meadow, the woods are lush and flowering, and the salt marsh is at its peak of marine and avian activity.

Winter:  Walk the perimeter of the field and scan for Savannah, Field, White-throated, White-crowned and Song Sparrow. Eastern Bluebird and Cedar Waxwing may turn up as well. White-tailed deer, gray fox and cottontail rabbit are among mammals that may be glimpsed. Tufted Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Wren and Winter Wren overwinter in the woods. Fish Crows often mob local Red-tailed Hawks along the treeline. Great Horned Owls call at dusk, as they begin their nesting season in January.
Spring:  Daffodils and grape hyacinth bloom near the entrance. Woodchucks forage in the fields. Migrant songbirds are abundant. Scan edges for Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, Indigo Bunting and Orchard Oriole. Listen in the woods for Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler. Spring peeper, chorus frog, Pine Barrens treefrog, gray treefrog, marbled salamander and red salamander are among amphibians to keep an eye out for in Spring.
Summer:  The grassland is buzzing with insects. Look for butterflies such as Eastern tailed blue, common wood nymph, swarthy skipper, silver-spotted skipper, pearl crescent, and silver-bordered fritillary. Dragonflies and damselflies alight on tall grass stalks. Bluebirds and House Wrens feed nestlings in the provided boxes. Listen for distinctive calls of Prothonotary Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the woods. Watch for box turtle, spotted turtle, musk turtle and snapping turtle crossing the trails. The woods are lush with ferns and blooming shrubs such as mountain laurel, leatherleaf, sweet pepper bush and swamp azalea. Scan the salt marsh for Great and Snowy Egret, various herons and other wading birds. Osprey pass overhead, often carrying a fish for their nestlings.
Fall:  The changing colors of the trees provide a beautiful backdrop. Scan the treeline for perched raptors such as Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned and Red-shouldered Hawk as well as the occasional Kestrel or Merlin. Migrant songbirds include Black-and-white Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Gray Catbird. Purple Martins gather in large flocks over the creek and an occasional Bald Eagle drifts overhead on its way South.

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