Start receiving our award-winning magazine today!


New Jersey

Muckshaw Ponds Preserve

Muckshaw Ponds Preserve's sinkhole ponds host an interesting array of plants and animals.

Location:  Fredon and Andover townships, Sussex County

Acres Protected: 530 acres

Established: 1988

Why You Should Visit

A few miles south of Newton, the county seat of Sussex County, the Muckshaw Preserve is home to a series of unusual ponds surrounded by steep forested limestone ridges. The bedrock that underlies the ponds and the surrounding ridges has dissolved slowly over thousands of years, making the groundwater mineral rich and the soil highly alkaline. This ongoing process has formed sinking streams, caves and sinkholes. Marked trails lead up steep hills and over narrow, rocky ridges that provide excellent views of several sinkhole ponds.

A large rock shelter on the southern edge of Muckshaw Ponds Preserve is said to have served as a hideout and headquarters for Revolutionary spy, Lt. James Moody. Many legends arose about Moody and his exploits during his stay in a Muckshaw cave and have become part of the area's folklore.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The unusual geology of the area hosts a number of plant species that are unusual in New Jersey. The Muckshaw Preserve protects one of the best remaining spots for these plant communities. Muckshaw Preserve is nestled within a landscape of many family farms, and the Conservancy works with a farmer to sustainably farm lands on the edges of the Preserve. Protection of this site is important for providing a buffer between agricultural areas and sensitive plant communities.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Recently, the Conservancy constructed the southern, most steep portion of the trail system with significant help from Pass It Along youth volunteers. A kiosk at the trailhead contains newly-developed brochures that maps the color-coded trails and provides additional information about the Preserve. Deer hunting occurs at the preserve. The Conservancy has reforested former agricultural fields.



The preserve is open from dawn to dusk, however no parking facilities currently exist.

Contact the New Jersey Chapter Office at 908-879-7262 for more information.


For directions please contact The New Jersey Chapter office at (908) 879-7262.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

comments powered by Disqus

Read our guidelines on posting comments

We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

More Ratings

x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Get our e-newsletter filled with eco-tips and info on the places you care about most.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

We respect your privacy. The Nature Conservancy will not sell, rent or exchange your e-mail address. Read our full privacy policy for more information. By submitting this form, you agree to the terms of use.