Big Brook Preserve

88 Hillsdale Rd., Colts Neck, NJ 07722

The Big Brook site consisting of 143.44 acres, has been recognized by Federal, State and local environmental specialists as one of the most unique environmental areas both in Monmouth County and New Jersey. Its uniqueness includes being long recognized as a major site for fossils of both the Cretaceous and Pleistocene ages (70-65 million years old). Many school groups, elementary through college, currently visit the resource each year, thus providing both educational, as well as scientific benefits. Major fossil types found at the site include hundreds of specimens ranging from sharks teeth (relatively common) to rare Cretaceous marine reptiles and Ice Age mastodons. The site also includes large sections of green sand deposits, used as a natural fertilizer, which are fully exposed for study. In addition, numerous historic bottles, tools and farm implements dating from pre-revolutionary times to the early 20th century have been found in and around the Big Brook area. The site is also very aesthetic and awesome, with a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as being transverse with the Big Brook stream. Parking is in the lot on Hillsdale Road or along Laurelwood Drive.


  • Fossil Hunting


Archeological Areas

Big Brook Preserve is one of the few sites on the East Coast where fossils may be readily found. The area is noted for a variety of sharks teeth and other marine specimens. In recent years, the Big Brook site has been a concern to the Township in regard to the major increase in the use level of the resource. Due to a increase in the population of both Colts Neck and Monmouth County, plus the nature of the resource becoming known to more people within the New York Metropolitan Area, there has been increased usage by both individuals, schools and organized groups. The biggest concerns have been the type of excavation of the walls of the Big Brook stream bed, and the type of equipment used in the collection of fossils. As a result, it is now necessary to obtain a permit.  The permit fee for groups of 15 - 29 people is $25.00; for use by groups of 30 people or more the permit fee is $50.00 and to adhere to the regulations posted at the entrance to the area. Groups of 14 or less do NOT require a permit.  You may learn about the fossils at the Big Brook Identification Page.  Permit requests may be sent via email to BIG BROOK PRESERVE IS NOT LOCATED AT 14 HEYERS MILL ROAD

Equestrian Facilities Horses are welcome to share the hiking trails in Big Brook; however, detours around some of the smaller bridges will be necessary.

 Hiking Trails The only formal development to date has been a hiking trail system maintained by a local Boy Scout troop. The trail runs along the brook from Laurelwood Drive to Hillsdale Road (1.25 miles one way) to Boundary Road (1/2 mile from Hillsdale Road).

 Nature Studies Big Brook Preserve is in its natural state and contains several ecosystems including meadows, woods, stream area, and mashland. It is a good place for observing a variety of flora and fauna.

 Rules and Policies (2015)

Big Brook Preserve is one of the most rare and fragile resources of its type within the United States. As such we request that you adhere to the general park rules which will help to preserve this facility.

Rules and policies regarding the use of Big Brook Preserve include:

Visiting with less than 15 people? NO PERMIT IS REQUIRED.  Formal permits for the use of the preserve for fossil collection and other such activities by all groups of 15 or more is required. Permits are obtained by contacting the Department of Recreation and Parks, via email at, indicating the desired date of your visit, the number of visitors in your group, and a contact telephone number. The group permit fee may be mailed in the form of a check or money order made payable to the Colts Neck Department of Recreation and Parks, in the amount of $25 for parties of 15 to 29.  Parties of 30 or more the permit fee is $50.00.  Please send your group permit fee to the Department of Recreation and Parks, 14 Heyers Mill Road, Colts Neck, New Jersey 07722. Once the payment is received and the date is scheduled for your group, you will receive your permit via email. If there is a conflict in scheduling, you will receive a telephone call and a mutually agreed upon date will be scheduled.
Permits for fossil collection are issued on a daily basis and are in effect from 8 a.m. to dusk.
Permits must be kept with the person in charge of the group, and must be presented to enforcement officials upon request.
Large group buses are restricted to the formal preserve parking area located on Hillsdale Road.
The collection of fossils within the preserve is limited to those fossils found within the actual stream water line. Fossil extraction is prohibited from the walls of stream bed above the stream water line.
The use of equipment for the collection of fossils is restricted to trowels with a maximum blade of 6 inches, and small screens with an 18 inch square maximum at all times.
No person may harvest more than five fossils per day.
Any person violating any of the rules listed herein, or any other policies related to the general operation of Township Preserves shall, upon conviction, be subject to the replacement, repair or restoration of any damaged property, and subject to fine or imprisonment.
Big Brook Preserve is NOT located at 14 Heyers Mill Road.  Parking can be found for the Preserve on Hillsdale Road.  Directions:  127 Hillside Rd. (Four JGs Winery) is approximately 1/4 of a mile south of the entrance to Big Brook Preserve.


  • Big Brook Preserve
  • 88 Hillsdale Rd.
  • Colts Neck, NJ 07722
88 Hillsdale Rd.,Colts Neck,NJ,07722