Mountain Lakes Preserve is one of Princeton’s most beautiful nature preserves. The park’s 75 acres are located in the middle of some 400 acres of preserved land that include the boulder fields in Witherspoon Woods, Mountain Lakes North, the boardwalk and pastures of Coventry Farm, and the recently preserved meadows of Tusculum. With its two lakes, numerous rocky creeks, wooded wetlands, and upland forests, this park provides a diversity of ecosystems for native flora and fauna. These features combine with the area’s 8 miles of maintained trails to make the Mountain Lakes Open Space Area an important source of beauty and recreation for the community.
Though many Princetonians come frequently to walk the woods and lakeshore trails, others have yet to discover this park, which is close enough to downtown to sometimes be called “Princeton’s Central Park.” Across 206 from Community Park, just past the Pettoranello Gardens, a long paved driveway extends back into Mountain Lakes from the gate at 57 Mountain Avenue. The driveway itself is a popular walk for those wishing to stay on pavement. Large maps at the Community Park North parking lot, and in the kiosk halfway up the driveway show the many trails to explore. Click here to print out your own copy of the Mountain Lakes Preserve trails map.
Mountain Lakes Preserve also features the Mountain Lakes House, which serves as the home base for Friends of Princeton Open Space. In 1987, FOPOS was instrumental in the acquisition of the Preserve. Today, it not only holds its conservation easement, but has officially adopted the Preserve and surrounding open space through Princeton’s Adopt-A-Park Program. As a result, the Mountain Lakes Open Space Area has become a focus of the organization’s land stewardship efforts, including trail maintenance and ecological restoration work.