Monday, December 12, 2016

Rocks Rock at Herrontown Woods

Our post-Thanksgiving walk drew a great turnout of 45 people plus pets, as Friends of Herrontown Woods vice president and hydrogeologist Jon Johnson spoke about the magnetite he had discovered in boulders along the ridge. He recruited kids from the crowd as helpers, gave them strong magnets and let them search for magnetic pebbles in the stream. We learned that some rocks in the preserve date back to the dinosaurs, and that he had tracked the magnetite upstream, like a prospector for gold, back to a motherlode near Stone Hill Church.

After absorbing this mind-expanding lesson in local geology, we took a brisk walk along the yellow trail, passing the area where large boulders were once quarried. Most hikers then joined us for refreshments and socializing next to the Veblen House. Follow this link for more info about the magnetism.

Please remember the Friends of Herrontown Woods in your holiday giving. We're grateful for your support. Click here to make a donation, large or small.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nature/Geology Walk This Sunday, Nov. 27

This Sunday at 1pm, we'll gather at Herrontown Woods to 1) be out in the woods on a brisk day and 2) learn something about the magnetite that's found in some of the boulders and streams there. All are welcome.

A few years ago, one of our Friends of Herrontown Woods board members, geologist Jon Johnson, discovered that some of the boulders in Herrontown Woods are magnetic. He tested pebbles in the streambed and tracked the magnetism upstream to its source in some of the boulders on the ridge. It's a bit like prospecting for gold, though no equipment is needed other than a strong magnet. There's a previous post on the subject at this link.

We'll also aim to pass by the area where large boulders were quarried at some point in Princeton's history, leaving big holes in the ground where a boulder had been.

Meet this Sunday, Nov. 27, at 1pm at the Herrontown Woods parking lot, off Snowden Lane. Maps can be found at html.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Nature Walk at Herrontown Woods: the Color-Coded Forest

This Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1pm, join us for a restorative, explorative walk through the remains of autumn color up on the Princeton Ridge at Herrontown Woods. The summer unity of green has given way to diverse expressions of species and self in the color-coded forest. All welcome.

Meet at the Herrontown Woods parking lot, off Snowden Lane across from Smoyer Park. Maps at this link.

This photo of hazelnut is from a 2013 post on the color-coded forest.

Some Herrontown Woods-related posts:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mushroom Walk Brings Delight

Thanks to Philip Poniz (right) for co-leading our Sunday mushroom walk at Herrontown Woods last week. Peter Ihnat (left) and others also shared their knowledge. The aim was to learn about, rather than harvest, the fungi of the forest. Though the dry (and beautiful) weather limited how many mushrooms showed up for the walk, we visited the cliff, the Veblen cottage, and the "swimming pool", encountering mushrooms along the way, including an impressive, vase-shaped foot-tall "polypore", before heading to the Veblen House grounds for refreshments. Thanks to all who shared their interest and knowledge.

Mushroom Walk Sunday, Sept. 25, 2pm

Update: The needed rains prior to the walk didn't come, so we have a beautiful day but few mushrooms. Philip will still expound on the subject, but the walk will be more of a general nature and history walk.

The Friends of Herrontown Woods will host a combination mushroom/nature walk Sunday, Sept. 25, at 2pm, co-led by mushroom expert Philip Poniz and naturalist Steve Hiltner. Mushrooms can be weather-dependent, so the walk may focus on mushrooms or be more general, depending on how many mushrooms show up along the trails.

The walk is free, but donations are welcome to support restoration of the natural and cultural heritage of Herrontown Woods, Princeton's first nature preserve.

Meet at the Herrontown Woods parking lot, across Snowden Lane from Smoyer Park. Maps can be found at html.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Changes: Herrontown Trail Markers

One longterm goal of the Friends of Herrontown Woods, as it continues to care for both Herrontown Woods and Autumn Hill Reservation, has been to simplify the color coding for trails. As of September, 2016, we now have a fully marked red trail that begins and ends at the main parking lot, and a yellow inner loop that branches off the red trail and features lovely views of the stream, boulder field, and historic quarry sites. The blue trail is now limited to the north side of the pipeline right of way. For those winter and spring seasons when the soil is saturated with water (good for the watershed, not so great for hiking), a trail marked with red and white signs will now provide a way to bypass the wettest parts of the red trail. The red, yellow, blue, and red/white trails are now fully marked. Short connector trails have white markers, and a couple have been closed off to simplify the trail system.

The map below illustrates the changes.

We aim for clarity without becoming too intrusive with signage. Markers vary in height, so when you reach an intersection, give a good look around to figure out which way to go next.

Enjoy the trails, and contact us with any feedback.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bringing Back a Lost Tree Species

In recent years, the Friends of Herrontown Woods has teamed up with local tree experts to bring back a little known and seldom seen native tree called the butternut. Also called the white walnut, its numbers have dwindled over the past fifty years due to an introduced fungus that causes canker. Just a few persist in Princeton, discovered by Bill Sachs and arborist Bob Wells. This young butternut was grown by Bill Sachs from locally collected nuts, and planted by FOHW members in a clearing near Veblen House.

Maybe the local deer get their news on the internet, because soon after this butternut's photo appeared in a blogpost about Herrontown Woods, its leaves disappeared, prompting us to extend the fencing higher around the tree. Persistence and followup are everything.

Another year or two and the tree will be tall enough to survive without protection.

When Bob Wells found a butternut growing near Stone Hill Church, a neighbor of Herrontown Woods, FOHW got permission to plant a couple young butternuts near it, to provide cross fertilization. Those saplings, too, would not survive without followup, and the followup probably wouldn't happen if this wasn't a labor of love, which makes one think to take a look and see how they're doing. Leaves eaten but stem still alive.

Some chickenwire laying on the ground nearby proved handy for protecting the resprouts.