Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve!

Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve

Welcome to a virtual tour of the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve!

Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve

The 147 acre preserve consists of three bodies of water (lagoon, upper lake and lower pond) deciduous wooded wetlands and wooded upland habitat. The Borough of Franklin Lakes purchased the land in 2006 from the Borough of Haledon for $6.5 million using funding from Green Acres and the Bergen County Open Space Fund. The preserve was open to the public in June of 2011.

Upper Lake

The 75 acre Upper Lake is the centerpiece of the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve and is an extremely popular fishing spot. The Upper Lake, created from the impoundment of the Molly Ann Brook in 1919, provided water to Haledon, North Haledon and Prospect Park. The Molly Ann Brook is the last tributary of the Passaic River before the Great Falls in Paterson.


Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve Trail Map

The Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve features 2 primary hiking trails. Access is available from Ewing Avenue, a small parking lot off of High Mountain Road and from nearby High Mountain Park Preserve’s Red Trail via Reservoir Drive and crossing High Mountain Road.

Shoreline Loop Trail

The main trail is the 1.5 mile white blazed Shoreline Loop Trail which encircles the entire Upper Lake and Lagoon.

Shoreline Loop Trailhead on Upper Lake Dam

Starting from the parking area, the trail heads over the dam separating the Upper Lake from the small pond to the south. The trail follows alongside the Upper Lake and near High Mountain Road and Ewing Avenue.

Island Bridges Trail

The western portion of the Island Bridges Trail is accessible near where the Shoreline Loop Trail passes by Waterview Drive.

High Mountain as seen from the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve

Beautiful views of the Upper Lake with High Mountain visible can be seen from this area. After exploring the western section of the Island Bridges Trail (the Island Bridges Trail is about a half a mile in length) head back to the  Shoreline Loop  trail which will briefly exit the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve near an outflow from a neighboring swamp (you can also continue via two floating bridges on the Island Bridges Trail to continue to the eastern side of the Shoreline Loop Trail skipping the entire northern section).

Backwater Lagoon crossing

Backwater Lagoon crossing

Once the Shoreline Loop Trail enters back into the preserve, the trail crosses backwater of the lagoon.

Molly Ann Brook Crossing

Molly Ann Brook Crossing

Continuing on the trail you will cross the Molly Ann Brook over a wooden bridge. Frogs can be heard (and sometimes seen) splashing into the water here during the warmer months.

From here, the Shoreline Loop Trail heads east near a church and near the High Mountain Golf Club (2014 update: High Mountain Golf Club has been sold and will soon be a housing development) which is visible through the trees.

High Mountain Golf Course

Along the way, the trail comes across a basalt beach.

Basalt Beach

Basalt was  formed when molten lava extruded out of the earth’s surface and cooled rapidly. Basalt is found in nearby High Mountain Park Preserve which is situated on the 2nd Watchung Mountain. Once past the basalt beach, the trail turns south. The eastern section of the Island Bridges Trail is accessible from this point.

Island Bridges Trail

Island Bridges Trail (East)

After exploring the eastern section of the Island Bridges Trail, head back to the Shoreline Loop trail and continue south until the trail terminates near a picnic area in a pine grove near where the trail began. 2014 Update: Please Note that new Accessible Trails have been constructed in this area and intersect with Shoreline Loop Trail. The Accessible Trails will remain unblazed and are not currently maintained by the NYNJ Trail Conference.

Preserve Shoreline Loop Trailend

NYNJ Trail Conference has blazed and will maintain both the Shoreline Loop and Island Bridges Trails.  A trail map of the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve is available on the NYNJ Trail Conference website here.


Flora found at the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve includes the below among others:

American Beech

Gray Birch

Paper Birch

Skunk Cabbage

Trout Lily


Fauna that I’ve spotted at the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve includes:

Palm Warbler

Canada Goose

Canada Goose Eggs

American Robin

Tufted Titmouse

Cedar Waxwing

Eastern Chipmunk


This preserve is a great place to explore and just relax. Directions are listed below (as taken from the NYNJ Trail Conference Website)

Take N.J. Route 208 to the Ewing Avenue exit in Franklin Lakes. Turn left at the end of the ramp (if coming from the west, turn right) and continue for about two miles until Ewing Avenue ends at High Mountain Road. Turn left onto High Mountain Road and continue past a lake and a smaller pond on the left. In 0.5 mile, at the end of the smaller pond, you will see a small brown sign for the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve on the left. Turn left into a driveway, passing old reservoir buildings on the right, then turn left again at a sign for parking and continue to a parking area just below the dam.

Note: Part of the preserve, including the entrance and parking, is in North Haledon (Passaic County). The address for the preserve is 1196 High Mountain Road, North Haledon, N.J. 07508

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions!

Great Hiking/Ecology Books:

1. 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: New York City: Including northern New Jersey, southwestern Connecticut, and western Long Island – Packed with valuable tips and humorous observations, the guide prepares both novices and veterans for the outdoors. From secluded woods and sun-struck seashores, to lowland swamps and rock-strewn mountain tops, this practical guidebook contains all the information needed to have many great hikes in and around New York City.

Click here for more information!

2. Take a Hike New York City: 80 Hikes within Two Hours of Manhattan – In Moon Take a Hike New York City, award-winning writer Skip Card shows you the best hikes in and around The Big Apple—all within two hours of the city.

Click here for more information!

3. Eastern Deciduous Forest, Second Edition: Ecology and Wildlife Conservation – This book is a useful tool for anyone who wants to know or hopes to help one of North America’s great natural resources.

Click here for more information!

4. Protecting New Jersey’s Environment: From Cancer Alley to the New Garden State – With people as its focus, Protecting New Jersey’s Environment explores the science underpinning environmental issues and the public policy infighting that goes undocumented behind the scenes and beneath the controversies.

Click here for more information!

5. Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State:

Wild New Jersey invites readers along Wheeler’s whirlwind year-long tour of the most ecologically diverse state for its size in America.

Click here for more information!


18 thoughts on “Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve!

  1. The Wandering Photographer

    Very nice! Franklin Lakes is a bit far but I am going to try to get there one of these days.

  2. erik jacobsen

    Just visited for the first time. Saw many people relaxing, jogging and hiking. Spotted a northern water snake curled up in some brush

  3. m. ling

    We were there 6/25/2012 and saw some blooming spotted wintergreen on the trail by the parking lot. They were under a stand of white pines. This is exciting because spotted wintergreen is not very common and finding them in bloom is unusual.

  4. Robert

    The water from it tasted bad when I was a kid in North Haledon. Fortunately my family had a well! I played for hours in Molly Ann Brook. We swam in the “Old Reservoir” that was just downstream from it.

  5. Jorge Cartamil

    I would like to know if the hike can be extended beyond the stated 1.5 mile (maybe up to 3 miles?) It is too short a trip for people coming from upstate NY. Thank you!

    1. NJUrbanForest Post author

      Hi Jorge, thanks for taking the time to write. Due to the size of the preserve (147 acres) there are only two main trails the 1.5 mile Shoreline Loop Trail & the estimated .5 of a mile Island Bridges Trail. If you are ever in the area it is worth checking it out!

  6. D. Hill

    Love this place!! Living only 15 minutes from here, my son and I visit the preserve every weekend. We catch & release many largemouth Bass. Question..Do they stock the lake? And, what other species of fish are living in the lake?

  7. Carol S. Yoder

    Why do they end the boating on Sept.30th? It should be extended to Oct. 15th. at east. The weather is still warm, and the leaves wlll be lovely reflected in the lake. Do you know why they close it so early? Is there a chance they would extend the season a bit this year? I love the preserve and go there often to hike and to boat.

      1. Sherida Yoder

        I did call the number you gave, and they said it would take 2 months to change an ordinance, so it was too late for this year. But they very kindly said they would consider extending the time for boating for next year. Other boaters said they would call Franklin Lakes too to tell them how much they would like more time.

        Thank you for your suggestion!

        Sincerely, Carol S. Yoder ________________________________________

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