A longer hike through the largest property in the Union County Park System leads past a deserted village, a pair of quiet ponds, a stately evergreen forest, and an abandoned copper mineand offers an opportunity to appreciate the numerous birds, mammals, and reptiles that make their homes within the parks 2,065 acres.
"Historical and natural sights, such as a pine plantation, deserted village, and scenic gorge, abound in this suburban oasis, Union County’s largest park. Wedged between the developed suburbs of Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, Scotch Plains, Springfield, and Summit, the Watchung Reservation helps make those towns special places to live. Many a local child grew up exploring, on foot or bike, the marked and unmarked paths on the reservation’s 2,045 acres." Read more
"The Lenni-Lenape Indians referred to the area that lies between two ridges as the Wach Unks, meaning “high hills.” We know them today as the Watchung Mountains. On the trails, you’ll be able to spot deer, birds, and wildflowers while walking beside a beautiful babbling brook. An added bonus is passing through the remains of Feltville, a nineteenth-century village ruled by David Felt. Until an archaeological dig in 2004, Felt was believed to have lived in a mansion away from the village. Now, thanks to evidence found in the dig, Matthew Tomaso, the center’s associate director, says he is “100 percent certain” that Felt lived in the village in a modest house “among his workers,” in this paper-manufacturing village. After the hike, plan on exploring the Trailside Nature and Science Center, adjacent to the parking area. Enjoy a nature film, lecture, or planetarium show; browse various exhibits including live reptiles, pond life, geology, and local plants; and watch birds in the observation area. Outside are compact herb, wildflower, and butterfly gardens." Read more
"The 2065-acre Watchung Reservation has 13 miles of blazed trails, 26 miles of bridle trails, and more than 40 miles of unmarked trails—plenty of space for you and Bowser to explore. With many access points, the white-blazed Sierra Trail has a lot of company—wild and tame. If your dog is well behaved on a leash, you both will enjoy the excursion. Hike down the paved Cataract Hollow Road through the Deserted Village of Feltville, an 1840s mill town. The road through the village is the white-blazed Sierra Trail, which becomes a dirt bridle trail as it enters the woods after Masker’s Barn, the last historic building. It runs through sun-dappled woods, heavy in birch and American beech trees." Read more
"The white-blazed Sierra Trail meanders around the 2065-acre Watchung Reservation through various habitats and elevations. Because the park is crisscrossed with an intricate bridle path and trail system, the Sierra Trail pops up in places you least expect it. Lake Surprise is an easy walk in mostly shade with a lake for Bowser to cool off in. This is a popular place, perfect for a dog who enjoys meeting people and other dogs." Read more
"This walk takes you on a journey through geological history, across sandstone and shale. We ramble through a deserted village and visit the Nature and Science Center, the first such exhibition in New Jersey. A special treat is passing through a grove of giant tulip trees, like New Jersey’s own redwoods. This hike takes us through the tranquil bottomland of the Watchungs, an oasis in an urban sea. These ridges sweep south and then west through the New Jersey Piedmont. Cradled deep within their embrace is the Great Swamp. Here the Watchungs rise like a green, rocky wave above the surrounding sea of dense urban development." Read more