The main entrance to Woodfield is located off the old Great
Road across from Tenacre Foundation; a gravel drive leads to
a small parking lot. A hiking trail leading into the Reservation
begins here. A second entrance to the Reservation is a footpath
from the south side of Drakes Corner Road. Both entrances are
marked by signs.
Woodfield Reservation is an irregularly shaped tract of almost
100 acres. It is a prime illustration of undisturbed land of
Princeton Ridge, which has been called an "island of forest" in
a "sea of suburban and agricultural development." The Reservation
is covered with a mature forest and has many fairly steep slopes,
making it suitable for vigorous walkers. Two of the most interesting
features of Woodfield are Council Rock, which overlooks a large,
heavily bouldered basin, and Tent Rock, a massive boulder.
About half of the land is owned by Princeton Township.
The remaining half of the Reservation was made available
for public use in 1964 by Mrs. John P. Poe. At this writing,
negotiations are in progress to add this tract to the public
domain. Under a 1992 agreement between the Princeton Regional
Planning Board and developers of Rushbrook, seven additional
acres, including Tent Rock, have been designated for inclusion
in Woodfield. New access trails into the Reservation from
Rushbrook will also be added.
The Reservation lies along the steep south slope of Princeton's
diabase ridge, an area of igneous rock formed more than
150 million years ago by volcanic intrusion of basalt,
or "diabase," rocks into a region of bedded shales. The
slopes feature stony soils, extensive fields of large boulders,
and outcrops of the diabase, which is medium to light gray
when weathered, and darker on a fresh surface. Individual
crystals can easily be seen in the rock. The outcrops have
fractures perpendicular to each other, probably from shrinking
while cooling. Contrary to popular local myth, these boulders
were not deposited by glaciers (which did not extend this
far south). They are "home grown," the result of 180 million
years of weathering and erosion of the rock originally
Woodfield's high wetland areas drain into several stream
corridors and two chains of ponds that, in turn, feed into
Stony Brook. The water table here is quite unusual, because
both the diabase and shale rocks not only form boulder
fields into which water drains easily, but also weather
to a fine and nearly impervious clay. Soils that overlay
accumulations of clay drain very poorly and are wet much
of the time; soils that overlay stony subsoil drain quickly
and are generally dry. This patchy pattern of natural drainage
produces a mosaic of seasonally swampy and dry upland forest.
Woodfield contains many mature hardwoods, including large tulip
poplar, beech, oak, and hickory. In most areas there is a full
understory of shrubs, ferns, and wildflowers. The first leaves
of spring at the confluence of the two streams in the center
of the Reservation are a sight not to be missed.
The woods are home to a wide range of birds, among them the
rarely seen pileated woodpecker. Summer residents include scarlet
tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, Northern orioles, and numerous
warblers. The woods are a welcome stopover point for these
and other migratory species in spring and fall. It is the only
woodland tract where serious birders can spot the Louisiana
water thrush. Many deer and small animals, such as raccoons
and opossums, make their homes here.
Signs at the entrances carry a map of the trails and include
prohibitions against horseback riding, use of motorized vehicles,
and injury of animal or plant life.
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