Map of Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve’s three trails. Click to enlarge. (Source: NJTrails.org.)

Cool woodlands and exceptional natural vistas on Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve are now easily accessible on Hopewell’s Woosamonsa Road, where a new sign and kiosk and a new gravel parking area invite the public to traverse three loop trails on Pennington Mountain.

Significant partnership among D&R Greenway Land Trust, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and the Township of Hopewell conserved what has been described as “a forested paradise.” Its black rock, diabase foundation fosters vernal pools, which support frogs, toads and salamanders, some of which are threatened or endangered in New Jersey.

A wide range of cooperation saved the Jay and Amy Regan land in 2018. The Nature Conservancy and NJ Green Acres Program, as well as Mercer County’s Open Space Fund, initially provided preservation funding for Woosamonsa Ridge, D&R Greenway’s 300th preserved property.

“Hopewell Township values our beautiful and varied landscapes and we are always thrilled when new opportunities to explore these resources are opened,” said Kristin McLaughlin, Hopewell Township mayor, in a media release. “With the new kiosk and parking lot, Township residents, and others, have an additional outlet for recreation. The Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve is a stunning addition to the open space resources in Hopewell Township.”

Woosamonsa’s longest trail loop provides about an hour and a half — each direction — of nature. The shortest may be completed in less than an hour. The pathways wind through the bucolic Jacobs Creek Valley. Arrival at the high point on the ridge delivers spectacular views, until now more or less reserved for the birds.

The property is co-owned and managed by D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, in partnership with the Township of Hopewell. Volunteers of the two nonprofits, composing the NJ Trails Association, have built new paths and improved historically used trails that now await the public.

Hopewell Township provided the new parking area on Woosamonsa Road, marked by a signature preserve sign. D&R Greenway created and installed the sign and accompanying kiosk, with its descriptive trail map.

“The Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve opening adds momentum to our earliest vision of a contiguous ‘emerald necklace’ of preserved land around the Hopewell Valley,” said Lisa Wolff, executive director of FoHVOS. ”We are so pleased to be working with partners who share our ambitions. We recently acquired a neighboring property and are working closely with others to make Woosamonsa Ridge and its surrounding area the crown jewel of Hopewell Valley.”

This land is named for a Lenape village once located on adjacent land.

NJ Trails Association, under the leadership of Alan Hershey, former D&R Greenway board chair, seeks to provide skilled, long-term volunteers who build creatively designed, winding preserve trails. The organization’s website describes the more-than-146-acre Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve as “boasting exceptional natural features — a mature hardwood forest, steep ridges, and the upper reaches of Jacobs Creek.”