New Jersey Butterfly Club

A chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

Horseshoe Bend Park

by Christopher Kratzer and Sharon Wander

County: Hunterdon.

Municipality: Kingwood Township.

North Entrance: 140 Horseshoe Bend Road (40.505657°, -75.044296°)
South Entrance: 162 Horseshoe Bend Road (40.498198°, -75.041648°)
Horseshoe Bend East: 97 Horseshoe Bend Road (40.511119°, -75.040601°)

Directions: From Frenchtown, proceed east on NJ Rt. 12 about 0.7 mi to a slanting right turn onto Horseshoe Bend Road. Continue 1.3 mi on Horseshoe Bend to the North park entrance, on the right. Follow the entrance road half a mile to a large pole-barn structure on the left. Do not drive farther, as the road leads to adjacent private property. To reach the South entrance, remain on Horseshoe Bend Rd. and continue for another 0.18 mi to the entrance on the right. Follow this entrance road 0.61 mi to a large utility building on the left, and another 0.13 mi to the end. Horseshoe Bend East is a separate parcel, with an entrance on the left about 1 mi after the turn from Rt. 12 onto Horseshoe Bend Rd. Follow this dirt road about 0.2 miles to a somewhat open area near an abandoned house. Do not drive farther, as the road leads to adjacent private property.

Parking: From the North entrance, park on paved area in front of the pole barn. From the South entrance, park on paved area in front of the utility building or in paved parking area at end of road. At Horseshoe Bend East, park near the abandoned house.

Nearest sizable town: Frenchtown, right on the Delaware River about 2 miles north of the park’s North entrance, is a charming small town with an array of restaurants from $ to $$$$ (the homey Frenchtown Café at 44 Bridge St. is highly recommended), gas stations, inns/B&Bs, and many interesting shops.

Habitats: Primarily meadow, deciduous forest, and riparian. Burke’s Run, Copper Creek, and unnamed tributaries of the Delaware River flow through forested areas of the park.

Maintained/Marked trails: The Park offers an extensive trail network seen on these detailed maps of the North and South sections produced by the New Jersey Trails Association.

Restrooms: A portable toilet is located next to the pole barn in the North section.

Picnic tables: No

Notable species: Sleepy Orange, Juniper Hairstreak, Gray Comma (see list below for details).

Best time to visit: May to October, particularly when Common Milkweed, Wild Bergamot, and Narrowleaf Mountainmint are in flower (the last being a favorite of Juniper Hairstreak).

Exploring Horseshoe Bend Park: From the North parking lot, cross the access road and explore the 7-acre fenced leash-free dog park. This completely open area often has remarkably high numbers of sulphurs and skippers, as well as a variety of other butterflies, and this is where Sleepy Orange has been seen. You can either stay on the mowed perimeter trail or crisscross the field checking flower patches. Extensive meadows to the west accessed via the Orange Trail (and via the Field Edge Trail on the adjacent state-owned Cooley Preserve property even farther to the west) have been little explored, and offer opportunities for new discoveries.

In the South section, park at the utility building, enter the gate across the road, and follow the (unmarked) mowed trail diagonally across the grass field. Cross through the hedgerow at the far end, and explore the large, shrub-dotted field that opens before you. Again, you can either follow the mowed perimeter (part of the Blue Diamond Trail) or meander through the field, which in midsummer is loaded with Narrowleaf Mountainmint (magnet for Juniper Hairstreak and other small butterflies) and Wild Bergamot (ditto for larger species). It will take quite awhile to thoroughly cover this field! After returning to your car, continue to the end of the road, park, and explore the adjacent field and road edges, where you may find Common Milkweeds. (You can also walk directly to the end of the road by exiting the large field’s perimeter trail at the southeast corner, where 2 sections of the Blue Diamond Trail connect.) Gray Comma is generally found in the South section, basking on paved or dirt surfaces, or imbibing running sap from trees. The North and South sections also have—and are linked by—an extensive network of forested trails, where, of course, butterflies are considerably fewer.

The main butterfly habitat on Horseshoe Bend East is along the powerline corridor, reached by following the trail leading from the northwest corner of the field behind the house. Exploring the powerline itself requires light bushwhacking, as there is no trail. Here, you may be able to find a diverse concentration of butterflies visiting Common Yarrow, Canada Thistle, and Annual Fleabane, among other wildflowers. A few butterflies may also be found in the open area around the house.

Special precautions: Be wary of a high incidence of ticks and poison ivy.

Butterfly List for Horseshoe Bend Park*

Common name Scientific name Status**
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes R
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail P. glaucus R
Spicebush Swallowtail P. troilus R
Cabbage White Pieris rapae R
Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice R
Orange Sulphur C. eurytheme R
Cloudless Sulphur Phoebis sennae NR
Sleepy Orange1 Eurema nicippe NR
American Copper Lycaena phlaeas R
Banded Hairstreak Satyrium calanus R
Red-banded Hairstreak Calycopis cecrops R
Juniper Hairstreak2 Callophrys gryneus R
White M Hairstreak Parrhasius m-album R
Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus R
Eastern Tailed-Blue Everes comyntas R
Spring Azure Celastrina ladon R
American Snout Libythaena carinenta NR
Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia NR
Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele R
Meadow Fritillary Boloria bellona R
Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos R
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis R
Eastern Comma P. comma R
Gray Comma3 P. progne R
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis R
Painted Lady V. cardui NR
Red Admiral V. atalanta NR
Common Buckeye Junonia coenia NR
Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis R
Hackberry Emperor Asterocampa celtis R
Northern Pearly-eye Enodia anthedon R
Common Wood-Nymph Cercyonis pegala R
Monarch Danaus plexippus NR
Silver-spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus R
Juvenal’s Duskywing Erynnis juvenalis R
Horace’s Duskywing E. horatius R
Wild Indigo Duskywing E. baptisiae R
Common Checkered-Skipper Pyrgus communis R
Common Sootywing Pholisora catullus R
Swarthy Skipper Nastra iherminier R
Least Skipper Anclyoxpha numitor R
Peck’s Skipper Polites peckius R
Tawny-edged Skipper P. themistocles R
Crossline Skipper P. origenes R
Little Glassywing Pompeius verna R
Sachem Atalopedes campestris NR
Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon R
Dun Skipper Euphyes vestris R

* From records of New Jersey Butterfly Club members

** R = Resident (meaning that at least one life stage overwinters here), NR = Nonresident.

1 A regular stray to South Jersey, but rarely seen in the North. Seen here twice, possibly strays from a known colony at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in nearby PA.

2 Sometimes seen in remarkably large numbers on mountainmints.

3 The Park is the only reliable place in NJ to find this species, although individuals have been seen in scattered locations in the general vicinity (e.g., Muddy Run Preserve) and at more northerly locations such as Wawayanda State Park.

Further information about Horseshoe Bend Park is available.

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.)

Dog park field at Horseshoe Bend Park

The dog park field at Horseshoe Bend Park.