New Jersey Butterfly Sites

Kittatinny Valley State Park

by Tom Halliwell

County: Sussex.

Municipality: Andover Township.

Directions: From Route 80 east or west: Get off at Exit 25 and take Route 206 north for about 6 miles to the traffic light in Andover. Stay on Route 206 north for an additional 1.6 miles and turn right onto Goodale Road. Follow Goodale for about 1 mile to the park entry road on the right, where there is a parking lot. Another parking lot is located at the park office building at the end of the short entry road. Park maps and other information are available here.

From the north take Route 206 south from Newton for about 3 miles, turn left onto Goodale Road, and proceed as above.

Parking: In addition to the two parking areas mentioned under “Directions” three other major lots are available: (1) along Goodale Road at Twin Lakes, about halfway (0.5 mile) between Route 206 and the park entry road; (2) along the east side of Route 206 at the Sussex Branch Trail, about 0.7 mile south of Goodale Road (look for “Trail Crossing” signs on 206); and (3) at Lake Aeroflex/Aeroflex Airport, about a mile east of Route 206 along Limecrest Road (which joins Route 206 at at a traffic light about 1 mile south of Goodale Road).

Nearest sizable town: Andover Borough, at the intersection of Routes 206 and 517, is about a mile south of the park. It has gas, food, and lots of antiques. There are several places to eat along Route 206 within a mile or so north and south of Goodale Road.

Habitats: Marshes, meadows, successional fields, active agricultural fields, deciduous forest, mixed hemlock-hardwood forest, and redcedar woods and openings. Much of the park is underlain by limestone, though the part east of Limecrest Road is Highlands gneiss and some of the higher elevations west of that road are composed of slate. The park also includes several ponds and a moderately-sized lake (Lake Aeroflex, the deepest natural lake in NJ).

Maintained/Marked trails: Yes. Easy to moderate. Trail maps are available at the park office. The main trail cutting through the park is part of the 20-mile-long Sussex Branch RR Trail. Be watchful for bicyclists on all trails, especially on weekends.

Restrooms: Yes. Flush toilets are located at the park office and at the Lake Aeroflex Limecrest Road parking lot. Composting toilets are provided at Twin Lakes and at the entry road lot.

Picnic tables: Yes, by the parking lots at Lake Aeroflex, Twin Lakes, and the park office. May be busy on weekends and holidays.

Notable species: Pipevine Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Falcate Orangetip, Baltimore Checkerspot, Viceroy, Northern Pearly-eye, Hoary Edge, Common Checkered-Skipper, and Leonard’s Skipper.

Best time to visit: Any time from May to October.

Exploring Kittatinny Valley State Park:
(1) From park office parking lot walk the field trails behind and across from the office building. Especially in summer when the fields are full of Wild Bergamot, look for swallowtails (including Pipevine and Giant), ladies, Viceroy, and many other species. In June, Hoary Edge can sometimes be seen on lower-growing flowers. Don’t miss the butterfly garden behind the office building. In summer and early fall this can produce numerous butterflies including Leonard’s Skipper and all 5 swallowtail species. Rarities such as Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and Long-tailed Skipper have also occurred here.

(2) From the parking lot off Goodale Road at the entry road look for large stands of Common Milkweed in the unmowed portion of the fields. Spend time checking these out as they can be full of butterflies including Hoary Edge, swallowtails, and Monarchs. Cross over Goodale Road and walk the gravel road that goes by the campground. Butterflying is excellent here in summer in the fields between the campground and the ruin of a stone barn. Great Spangled Fritillary, Red-spotted Purple, anglewings, ladies, and the occasional Baltimore Checkerspot frequent these fields. In late April and early May, Falcate Orangetips fly along the Sussex Branch Trail that parallels the gravel road.

(3) From the parking lot of the Sussex Branch Trail on Route 206, walk the woods trail north, keeping an eye out for woodland butterflies including Northern Pearly-eye. Harvester has been seen here right on the cinder path. Take the short trail to the left that goes to the dam of White Pond. In late June/early July you might luck into a Northern Metalmark on the flowers by the woods on the right once you’ve come out into the open.

(4) From the parking lot at Lake Aeroflex you can walk back out the exit, turn left into the field adjoining Limecrest Road, and walk for a mile or so. Wear rubber boots to protect yourself from ticks, Poison Ivy, and wetness. This area has been home to Baltimore Checkerspot, Hoary Edge, Pearl Crescent, and many Grass-Skippers, including Mulberry Wing, Black Dash, Crossline, Peck’s, Dun, Tawny-edge, and Least. A drier alternative is to walk the road southwest along the airport, past the barn, and down along the edge of Gardner’s Pond. Viceroy, Appalachian Brown, and Northern Cloudywing occur here, along with the occasional Hoary Edge, and many other species. At the end of Gardner’s Pond the gravel road enters the woods where you may find Northern Pearly-eye and other woodland species.

(5) At Twin Lakes the parking lot itself can have basking butterflies such as Tawny and Hackberry emperors (uncommon), Red Admiral, swallowtails, and others. The trail leading down to the marsh can be really hopping in early fall when the asters, goldenrods, and New York Ironweed are in bloom. Search the boat launch area for Common Checkered-Skipper. Also, if the agricultural field to the right of Twin Lakes is fallow in summer, check it out for Common Checkered-Skipper and Variegated Fritillary.

Special precautions: Ticks and mosquitoes are present in season and bears (generally quite timid) are seen regularly in the forested sections. Be watchful for mountain-bikers and horse riders, especially on weekends.

You might also want to visit: Whittingham WMA.

General information for this park can be found at www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/kittval.html



To view a larger map, click on 'View larger map' icon in upper right hand corner. (Tip: The satellite view may also suggest good potential butterfly habitat to explore.)



Kittatinny Valley State Park Butterfly Garden

Be sure to visit the excellent butterfly garden behind the KVSP office.


Kittatinny Valley State Park Butterflying the Entry Road Field

Patches of Common Milkweed along the KVSP entry road are always worth checking.


Kittatinny Valley State Park Entry Road Field

Fields near the KVSP office attract butterflies with great displays of Wild Bergamot and other nectar plants.


Kittatinny Valley State Park Trail Along Twin Lakes Marsh

The trail at the south end of Twin Lakes is great for both birds and butterflies.