Photo courtesy of Mercer County Park Commission

This blog first appeared on the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Blog in June 2020. If you've been traveling the LHT #OnTheCircuit lately, you may have noticed the construction, and that is becuase this great new section of the trail is been built. Please continue to be cautious of the potential trail closures due to construction. We can't wait to celebrate the opening of this portion of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail with you all this summer!

The LHT could not be more excited with progress on the new Stony Brook pedestrian bridge at Mercer Meadows. Part of trail segment 14 which crosses from Lawrence Township into Hopewell Township, the soon-to-open bridge is the centerpiece of an all-new trail extension allowing visitors a much safer and more enjoyable ride through parkland. It replaces a leg of the LHT running along Old Mill Road and through the County’s Equestrian Center.

Soon, bikers and hikers will be able to travel from Rosedale Lake, the largest water feature along the LHT, to the northern bank of the Stony Brook, utilizing boardwalk trails and the new bridge. Spanning 500 feet, the bridge will offer unique views of the historic Stony Brook and the forest understory while allowing visitors a chance to explore previously inaccessible portions of county parkland.

The bridge and trails are currently an active construction zone and closed to the public. Entering an active construction zone could put you and employees at risk, so please respect all signage throughout the park. As soon as the bridge is up and running it will be yours to explore – so stay up to date with Mercer County Parks and our LHT website and social media accounts.

In the meantime, some history: Mercer Meadow’s historic Hunt House, currently home of the Mercer County Park Commission, dates to the 18th century. Home to Noah Hunt, a prominent early resident of Hopewell, the grounds surrounding it were once a prosperous farm. Likewise, the Fish Farmstead, also known as the Adams House, serves as an excellent example of an early 19th century farmhouse in the region. That home and the surrounding land is now the County’s Equestrian Center.

Photo courtesy of Mercer County Park Commission

Stony Brook, which starts south of Ringoes and eventually drains into the Millstone River east of Princeton, is also rich in history and played an important role in the settlement of Central Jersey. Just upstream from the new pedestrian bridge, where Old Mill Road crosses the waterway, the ruins of Reed’s Mill are visible. Used for timber and grain, Reed’s Mill was active from about 1750 to 1941.

Further downstream, where Route 206 (formerly King’s Highway) crosses the waterway, is the former site of a Quaker settlement dating back to the 1690s. Those early settlers called their new community Stony Brook. One of the families, the Clarkes, purchased some of the best land: A large tract of meadow and Stony Brook frontage. Other families included the Oldens and the Stocktons, names still familiar in the area.

Together, this group built a landing and the area’s first business, Worth’s Mill. A Friends Meeting House was built in 1724. By 1745 the Stony Brook settlement was overshadowed by the village of Princeton, and the area had become a well-known stopping point and landmark between New Brunswick and Trenton. In 1777, during the Battle of Princeton, the Stony Brook Bridge was destroyed – but Worth’s Mill survived. It continued to operate until 1890 and the west wall remains.

For more on the Stony Brook and the earliest settlers of the area, visit Princeton’s website as well as the Princeton Historical Society.

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