Layfayette Township, Sussex County
Considered by the New Jersey Grotto groups to be the longest cave in New Jersey, Crooked Swamp Cave is a narrow passage though the limestone bedrock. Crooked Swamp is a large marsh complex at the headwaters of the Paulinskill River that provides important habitat for many plant and animal species such as the federally endangered bog turtle and state threatened longtail salamander and includes a great blue heron rookery. Crooked swamp is sourced by numerous springs which for thousands of years have slowly dissolved away the mineral bedrock forming this cave. In 1982 a spelunker was trapped underground while exploring the interior of the cave. Rescue crews from across the nation came to assist the trapped caver, but tragically their efforts were unsuccessful. Controlled access to this underground resource was determined to be the best way to prevent future tragedies while not prohibiting the responsible activity of spelunking. The land surrounding the cave entrance was donated to the Trust by the developer of the adjoining neighborhood. The NJ Cave Conservancy and the Trust worked to install custom-made lockable safety gates. Today the Crooked Swamp Cave is managed under agreement with the NJ Cave Conservancy, which arranges guided underground tours following rigid safety standards.
Public Access and Uses:
Public access to the cave resources is restricted and limited. Visitors who wish to explore the Crooked Swamp Cave must first contact the NJ Cave Conservancy to arrange for a guided tour. Prior spelunking experience is required and membership in a recognized caving organization is encouraged. More information about the NJ Cave Conservancy may be found at www.nnjg.org or contact the Trust office at 609-984-1339 or NatLands@dep.nj.gov. Hunting is not permitted at this preserve.