Ringwood’s Jerry Wyckoff Natural Preserve!
The Jerry Wyckoff Natural Preserve is a 7.18 green acres woodland located in the Borough of Ringwood NJ. The preserve is located on Fieldstone Drive off of Skyline Drive. It is named after the first chair of the Ringwood Environmental Commission. The Northgate Park housing development and Fieldstone Drive sit to the north of the preserve, Skyline Drive sits to the west and south of the preserve and High Mountain Brook flows to the east. High Mountain Brook is a fresh water trout production stream with a C1 classification which is one of the highest classifications given to a stream in the state of NJ. Its headwaters are formed from the artificially created 4 acre Brushwood Pond which contains Bass, Catfish and other aquatic life and flows in a south west direction until it terminates in the 39+ acre artificially created Skyline Lakes.
Part of the purpose of the preserve is to maintain the rural character of Ringwood. The 7.18 acre site was previously threatened with development by the name of Bald Eagle Suites . Bald Eagle Suites would have contained the largest buildings in Ringwood. The development would have consisted of four four story high buildings containing a total of 100 units of assisted living high density housing. The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission which manages the nearby Wanaque Reservoir, opposed the development. NJDWS believed that runoff from the development would contaminate local reservoir feeding streams.
The development would have disturbed nearly 96% of the 7.18 acres by essentially blowing off the top of the mountain and moving 20 thousand cubic yards of soil for the construction of an entrance road and sewage treatment fields. The site would have been stripped of trees and several large retaining walls would have been in place. Thanks to the combined efforts of Skylands Clean (an environmental organization that is defunct as of 2019) and the Ringwood Zoning Board, the development was denied and the 7.18 acres was purchase from the developer by Ringwood for $600,000 on March 16, 2007. Green Acres provided $300,000, Passaic County Open Space provided $250,000 and the municipal OS Trust provided $50,000.The preserve is the first open space initiative led exclusively by Ringwood.
The estimated .27 of a mile orange blazed trail entrance is found off of Fieldstone Drive just north of the entrance to Stop and Shop. The trail was created and blazed by a local boy scout troup. No map is needed for this out and back trail. The total trail is an estimate .54 of a mile. Orange ribbons were found on many trees extending near the end of the trail during my last visit. This may indicate a longer planned trail for the future.
The trail provides many scenic viewpoints of nearby highlands and the Wanaque Reservoir (especially when the leaves are gone from the trees!)
The trail terminates at a glacial erratic.
Flora found along the trail include Christmas Fern, Sweet Fern, White Oak, Chestnut Oak and Red Oak, American Beech and Red Maple among others. I spotted this awesome little Eastern Chipmunk during a warmer month visit:
The Jerry Wyckoff Natural Preserve is located at the entrance to the center of town (Skyline Drive) from Route 287 (Exit 57) off of Fieldstone Drive. Parking is available in the nearby Stop and Shop.
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!