New Jersey Butterfly Sites

Dark Moon Preserve

by Joe Burgiel and Marge Barrett

County: Sussex.

Municipality: Green Township.

Directions: From Route 80 westbound: Take Exit 19, staying in right-hand exit lane, and cross CR 517, bearing slightly right onto CR 612 through the village of Allamuchy. Follow CR 612 for about 5 miles to its intersection with CR 519 at a 4-way stop. Turn right on 519 and follow it for about 2½ miles (note that 519 makes a right-hand turn about 0.4 mile after the 4-way stop). Watch the mile markers—the parking lot is IMMEDIATELY after the 157 marker (and is not visible in advance from this direction), so slow down as soon as you can see the marker in preparation for entering the gravel/grass parking area on the right.

From Route 80 eastbound: Take Exit 12, turning left onto CR 521 toward Blairstown. Turn right on Silver Lake Road (CR 608) about 0.5 mile after leaving Route 80. Follow Silver Lake Road until it ends at Route 94. Turn right and follow Route 94 through the village of Marksboro. About 2 miles beyond Marksboro turn right at a sign to Johnsonburg (CR 661, Ramsey Road). In a little over a mile (after passing through a short tunnel), turn left onto CR 519. Follow 519 for about 2 miles as described above.

Nearest sizable town: Blairstown, at the intersection of routes 94 and 521 (about 3 miles south of White Lake), has gas stations, a food market, and restaurants. There is also a deli in Marksboro and another in Allamuchy.

Habitats: Dry to wet meadows with a small stream, Eastern Redcedar groves, and limestone deciduous forest. Meadows contain Common Milkweed, Common Teasel, three species of thistle, Purple Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Oxeye, and other flowering forbs.

Maintained/Marked trails: Yes. Trails easy; off-trail through meadows moderate. A large trail map is displayed at the parking lot.

Parking: Yes. Large, mowed-grass lot on Route 519 just south of the intersection with Hibler Road.

Restrooms: No. White Lake NRA (see below) and Footbridge Park in Blairstown offer portable toilets.

Picnic tables: No.

Notable species: Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Banded Hairstreak, Juniper Hairstreak, Common Buckeye, Viceroy, Common Checkered-Skipper, Common Sootywing, Fiery Skipper, Crossline Skipper.

Best time to visit: Anytime May through October, however the greatest variety of butterflies is present from midsummer on.

Exploring Dark Moon Preserve: Follow the mowed, grassy trails through the meadows. It is also rewarding to go off-trail, especially through the meadow between the stream and the Red Cedar forest. These areas provide the most butterfly species.

The Dark Moon Preserve also contains the remains of a Woodland-Period Minisink Indian village that was inhabited primarily in summer. Archaeologists studied the site intensively in the 1980s.

Dark Moon Preserve is not frequently visited. On most occasions you will have the area to yourself.

Special precautions: Ticks are present in season.

You might also want to visit: White Lake Natural Resource Area.

Further information about this site can be found at ridgeandvalleyconservancy.org/new-page-76/




View Dark Moon Preserve in a larger map. (Tip: The satellite view may also suggest good potential butterfly habitat to explore.)


Trail map

Trail map.

Path with cedars

Path with cedars.


Field with flowers

Field with flowers.


Milkweed patch

Milkweed patch.