Ned and Linda Heindel have enjoyed the Hexenkopf Ridge so much they decided to share it with the world.

The couple has donated 76 acres on Hexenkopf Road in Williams Township to Northampton County so it can be saved for public use as the Hexenkopf Ridge Preserve.

Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said discussions about donating the land started last year. The donation became official this month.

“They wanted to make sure that their land was preserved for the public and that’s why they approached Northampton County,” McClure said.

Ned Heindel said he and his wife bought a house and a barn there in 1967 and gradually started acquiring land around it. They amassed 143 acres and are keeping about half of it. He donated it out of his and his wife’s love for the land and their desire to see it remain pristine.

“It’s so beautiful. It has such diverse wildlife and plant life. It has well more than 50 identified plant species, many of them quite rare,” Heindel said.

The land is part of Stouts Valley. It’s appraised at $460,000.

Ned Heindel is a chemistry professor at Lehigh University, where he serves as a research scientist. He served as president of the American Chemical Society. His wife, Linda, is a retired dean at Moravian College. She serves on the Williams Township Land Preservation Board.

At the center of the land is Hexenkopf Rock. Ned Heindel wrote a book about how that rock is haunted. Legend has it that 18th and 19th century healers transferred evil and sickness out of sufferers and sent it to the rock, which looks like a witch’s head.

Visitors need not fear the rock, Heindel said.

“The witches seem to have retired a long time ago,” he joked.

The Hexenkopf Ridge Preserve will supplement more than 2,100 acres of land already preserved by Northampton County as open space.

“The county is grateful to Ned and Linda Heindel for their donation of the Hexenkopf Ridge Preserve,” said Bryan Cope, the county’s director of parks and recreation. “We plan to add some hiking trails to the property and will make sure this land is preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.”

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Rudy Miller may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RudyMillerLV. Find Easton area news on Facebook.

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