Home » Trail Guide with Jenn Rogers: Exploring Fiddler’s Creek Preserve

Trail Guide with Jenn Rogers: Exploring Fiddler’s Creek Preserve

by Jenn Rogers

Welcome to our new column presented by Jenn Rogers, executive director of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS). In this series, Jenn will guide you through the best trails and preserves in Hopewell Valley, perfect for any season. This week, we explore the captivating paths of Fiddler’s Creek Preserve. Join us as we uncover the natural beauty and hidden gems of our Hopewell Valley landscapes.

“Where Should We Walk?” Fiddler’s Creek

In June, you can’t go wrong with a hike at Fiddler’s Creek Preserve

In this new column, provided by FoHVOS staff, we aim to alleviate your weekly “where to walk” woes by providing readers with trail and preserve reviews that are appropriate for the season.  In this first edition, Fiddler’s Creek Preserve is featured. 

This preserve is 108 acres in size, and has an exciting trail system that leads you through woodland, a large active reforestation project and (Fiddler’s) creek-side old forest. 

Fiddlers Creek Preserve is in Titusville, on the western side of Hopewell Township, and sits squarely between Baldpate Mountain and Washington Crossing State Park. This land was sought out specifically to make the physical connection between these two large parcels of open space. In fact, it was dubbed “the missing link” back in 2010 when it was acquired. 

The old forest within the ravine.
The reforestation project in 2024.

Since being preserved by FoHVOS, Mercer County, D&R Greenway and Hopewell Township, the land has seen a lot of transformation. One of the more notable efforts took place in 2011, when a 40-acre reforestation project was implemented in the footprint of a field that had been farmed for over a century. The fallow field had compacted soil and altered soil chemistry from its historic use – efforts were made to amend these soil qualities, and after a deer fence was erected around the enter site, over 3,000 trees and shrubs were planted, just days after Superstorm Irene drenched central Jersey.  

Today, the reforestation section of the preserve is so impressive to walk through, knowing that a mere 13 years ago it was an herbaceous field covered mostly by cool season grasses, and a few solitary trees. Walking through the enclosure (because there is an intentional trail system throughout it!!), areas of the trails are shaded; cast from the canopy of young trees such as sumac and tulip poplar. Some of these plants helped themselves to this site – thanks to natural seed dispersal methods including wind, bird droppings and squirrel caches – while other trees and shrubs were planted by our staff, partners, and many volunteers from the community.

Just one of the many views of Fiddler’s Creek from the trails.

Native roses (with pink flowers), chokeberries, and dogwoods are also trail side and provide both spring blooms and autumn berries. This change in vegetation has made the location quite exciting to birds. (I also happen to really enjoy the native insect community here too. … and so do many of the site’s breeding songbirds, but more than likely for different reasons.) Here’s a small sampling of the bird species present in the reforestation area, during a recent very warm afternoon walk: 

  • Common yellowthroat 
  • Yellow warbler 
  • Field sparrow 
  • Prairie warbler 
  • Willow flycatcher 

In addition to the reforestation project that is open to pedestrian use, the trails also provide access to and through the ravine of Fiddler’s Creek. The steepness of this slope is what protected this section of the land from previous heavy human use. Here, one can experience some New Jersey old growth forest – land that has been continuously forested since at least 1930. In the past few years, both emerald ash borer and a variety of large storms has altered the forest composition in the ravine, but it is still a picturesque walk. Trails in this section feature wonderful stone work, side paths to the edge of the creek, and a small bridge.

The trail system in the ravine was created by NJ Trails Association, a local, volunteer-powered group of trail enthusiasts that make access to many of our preserved spaces in the region possible. They built the bridges and laid the stonework here, in addition to creating the trail beds. 

Want to take a walk here yet?  (… I think I heard a yes, so please read on) 

How to get here: There are several ways to access this preserve. 

Discreet entrance to Fiddler’s Creek Preserve.
  • A small parking area is provided at the preserve, accessed from Fiddler’s Creek Road.  The entrance to the preserve is discreet (see the below photo), but Google Maps has the parking lot for this preserve as a location that can be navigated to (see link here).
  • Parking at the larger parking lot of Baldpate Mountain, which is adjacent to the park’s driveway is also an option. This lot is much easier to see from the road (there is a large wooden gate and a big sign). If you were to park here, we suggest crossing the road at the Baldpate Mountain driveway to access the preserve from the blue trail. This trailhead is visible (with a small sign) at the base of the Baldpate driveway, where one would be crossing. 
  • Lastly, there is pedestrian access from Wildwood Way (a side street off of Church Road), that was created about five years ago.  If you are seeking a longer or through hike experience, this makes a connection to Washington Crossing State Park realistic. 

Trails throughout the reforestation area are wide, mowed paths that tend to be flat. Access into the reforestation area is provided by several gates, please be sure to close these gates behind you, as they do not do so on their own. Trails in the ravine tend to be a little more, eh, wild. The trail beds here are wide enough for single-file hiking. Some trails may have downed tree obstructions, just given the current rate of intense weather conditions, and some trails may have overgrown corridors – but nothing that should stop one from experiencing the local beauty of this location.

You would be best prepared for a walk through Fiddler’s Creek Preserve if you: 

  • Wore a sun hat or otherwise protected your skin from sun exposure 
  • Applied your preferred method of bug and tick control 
  • Carried a water bottle and a snack (who doesn’t like a tasty bite by a stream?) 
  • Allotted yourself 2-2.5 hours to walk the preserve 
  • Brought with you:

Need someone to pick a route for you? Here is my suggestion:

Park at the preserve lot (the one that is hard to find). From the lot, enter the reforestation fence through the gate. Make an immediate right on to the red trail. This mowed path will bring you around the western-most section of the reforestation area. 

Where the trail makes a three-way intersection, turn left onto the blue trail and follow this all the way to another gate in the fence adjacent to the wooded ravine. Walk out of the gate (and close it) and straight into the woods – the path here is more narrow than the mowed trails and mowed perimeter around the fence. 

Several feet into the woods, make a right on the red trail. This will gently wind you down the steep ravine and provide views of Fiddler’s Creek. Follow this trail, parallel to the creek until it intersects with the white trail. Along the way, look out for short trail spurs that lead one to the creek’s edge.

If I were you, I’d take one of the trail spurs that lead to the creek’s edge and dip your feed in the water to cool off. Maybe also enjoy a homemade cookie or tasty trail mix here, with a sip of water.  I bet if you sit still long enough, you’ll also hear some bird song – maybe a scarlet tanager, wood thrush or American redstart!

At the red and white trail intersection, veer left, up the hillside on the white trail. This path cuts up the ravine, switchbacks just a tad, and remains mostly shaded for the extent. At the top of the ravine, make a right on the blue trail, enter the reforestation fence again, and continue on the blue path, staying straight when coming through the gate, to take a direct line back to the parking lot. 

About Us

MercerMe is the only hyperlocal, independent, online news outlet serving Hopewell Valley in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Contact us: [email protected] 

Search Our Archives

About Us

MercerMe is Hopewell Valley’s own digital news source, delivering in-depth, hyperlocal coverage that informs and strengthens the community.


Contact us: [email protected]

PO Box 260

Hopewell, New Jersey 08525

Search Our Stories