Rockhopper trail is located on Rt 518 in West Amwell. The Parking lot for this preserve is the same one as Dry Creek, but you need to cross Rt. 518 to get to the trail head.
I love this little sign! I found it absolutely charming and my Little Dude loved looking for the blue squares! I was joined by two of my friends (and bandmates!) and two pups.
If my boss had not told me I was going to walk along side this property on my way to the Rock Hopper Trail, I would never have found this trail! It definitely feels a little trespass-y, but this is the way to get onto the trail.
My dude and I love these little bridges! There were so much fun to cross over the mud patches.
Mile-a-minute, Persicaria perfoliata (formerly known as Polygonum perfoliatum), is a highly invasive weed that can grow up to six inches a day! A weevil, Rhinocominus latipes, was approved for bio-control of Mile-a-minute in 2004 and since has been released in New Jersey and Delaware. From what I have seen, the damage on these leaves look like the damage caused by R. latipes.
Violet Wood sorrel, Oxalis violacea. I had no idea what this was when we were out hiking, and enrolled the help of my co-worker to help me ID back in the office. Until now I only knew of the common yellow wood sorrel, Oxalis stricta. I loved eating the lemony leaves of wood sorrel as a child. I wonder if these leaves would have tasted the same?
Sori clusters on a fern! Click here to read more about the fern reproductive lifecycle. The sori clusters hold the spores that ferns use in reproduction. Fascinating ferns!
Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) on the left and White Oak (Quercus alba) on the right. Both of these species have bark that peels, but Shagbark Hickory has bark that pieces vertically in strips and White Oak peels horizontally, almost like a door opening.
I loved all the rocks on this trail. They made wonderful resting spots for water breaks!
Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) in flower. This little creeping native has beautiful red berries in the fall. This is a great alternative to planting non-native periwinkle as a creeping ground cover on your property!
Roots wrapped around a boulder. This rock was most likely covered in soil when this tree started to grow and then a flood (or multiple floods) washed away the soil, exposing the roots. You can’t see it in this picture, but this tree and boulder are right on the edge of a small stream. Trees can start to grow in small pockets of dirt and debris on top of rocks, but you most likely would not have such extensive root growth around the rock. If this scenario was not growing right by the stream, I think I wouldn’t feel as confident about what was happening here, but some of the best ways of figuring out an interesting situation is to step back, and look at it from all angles.
Littlest is not quite ready for rock hopping, but he is enjoying crawling over the rocks!
Hopping rocks on the Rockhopper trail!
Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana) is one of those monster trees of the forest. This tree can be massive and the branches are so high in the canopy that it is hard to see the leaves. The leaves of this tree are scabrous – meaning that they feel rough to the touch.
Wild Yam, Dioscorea villosa, is a native New Jersey vine. I have not found many peer-reviewed articles about the medical use of Wild Yam root, I have read that it is used in traditional medicine for women’s reproductive system health issues.
I cherish these moments of my wild boys running through the woods. It is a wonderful thing to let child play and explore the world around them.