Mountain Lakes Preserve
FOPOS’s headquarters are in the house at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, one of Princeton’s most beautiful and beloved parks. The Preserve’s 75 acres are located in the middle of some 400 acres of protected public land that include the boulder fields in John Witherspoon Woods, the stream flowing through Mountain Lanes 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 be called “Princeton’s Central Park.” Across 206 from Community Park South, just past the entrance to Community Park North and 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.
The Mountain Lakes House, located in the Preserve, contains the offices of Friends of Princeton Open Space and is rented for events, to raise additional funds for land preservation and stewardship. In 1987, FOPOS was instrumental in the acquisition of the Preserve. Today, we not only hold the conservation easement, but have officially adopted the Preserve and the adjacent Mountain Lakes North and John Witherspoon Woods 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