Moggy Hollow Natural Area

 Far Hills, Somerset County

 

About Moggy Hollow Natural Area

The Moggy Hollow Natural Area is a rugged, steep parcel of land adjacent to Buck Garden in Somerset County. It was established as a preserve in 1967 when Mr. J. Malcom Belcher, Mr. and Mrs. Zachariah Belcher, Mrs. Mary Young and Dr. and Mrs. Harold Belcher donated 11.615 acres of land to the Upper Raritan Watershed Association (now RHA). A gift of 2.38 additional acres by Mr. Leonard Buck brought the total area to just over 14 acres in 1968. The lands were conveyed to us ‘for the purpose of preserving the unique geological features… and for scientific, education and conservation purposes”.

Moggy Hollow

Mr. J. Malcom Belcher and his sister, Mrs. Gayle Young, gaze out over Moggy Hollow in this photo taken in 1970 just after the area was designated as a National Landmark.

During the Wisconsin Glacial Stage (about 50,000 years ago), much of what is now the Great Swamp and Troy Meadows existed as a huge lake known as Glacial Lake Passaic. At its greatest extent it was nearly 300 square miles in size, and its outlet was through Moggy Hollow, near the village of Far Hills, for more than 2,000 years. Other outlets opened up many miles to the east as the glacier began to  melt and retreat, and the falls at Moggy Hollow were left high and dry. 

The area remains today as a deeply cut gorge with a marsh and tiny brook at the bottom (the hollow). Although originally all the water from the huge glacial lake and its basin flowed through, carrying with it basaltic boulders which scoured out the basin at the bottom, today Moggy Hollow drains an area of just 50 acres.  Because of its unique geological qualities, Moggy Hollow was selected for inclusion in the National Registry of Natural Landmarks in 1970.

The Moggy Hollow Natural Area is part of New Jersey’s Green Acres tax exemption program, and as is the case with all of our preserves, it is open to our members and the public for passive recreation. The site is wooded, with a marsh in what was once the plunge-pool below the falls. Treacherous footing and very steep banks make the Moggy Hollow Natural Area inhospitable to all but the most intrepid hikers, but its primeval character provides wonderful habitat for flora and fauna.

No one knows for sure how it came to be called Moggy Hollow, but there are a few possible explanations that have been put forward over the years. The name may come from a combination of the words misty and foggy or marshy and boggy, either of which aptly describe the area. Another possibility is that the name comes from ‘moggy,’ an Old English word with two meanings.  One is ‘dark, damp and dingy,’ and the other is ‘coming and going.’ The first meaning provides an accurate description of any hollow, and the second accurately describes the process by which the gorge was formed.

Plan Your Visit

The preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset year-round.  It is located adjacent to and above the Leonard J. Buck Garden. Visitors can either ask to cross the Buck Garden to reach the lower portion of the ravine, or park on Liberty Corner Road in a driveway marked with a Green Acres sign about 1/4 mile from Buck Garden and access the top of the ledge. For directions to the site from your location, follow this link.

There are no designated trails on this property. Portions of the hollow are steep and dangerous.

Trails

There are no trail maps for Moggy Hollow. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Please contact Lauren Theis at ltheis@raritanheadwaters.org for information about volunteer projects here.

Stewardship Activities

Stewardship activities include annual surveys.