Discovery Summer included a focus on many green issues, and a strong reminder from author Richard Louv of what is lost when we don’t get out into nature. The Library’s Nature Symposium, carried on Channel 3, created ripples that have radiated near and far. To continue the excitement, we’ve compiled a list of destinations to get you out of the house! There are literally thousands of acres of wilderness in and near New Jersey….much of it right in our own back yard. Hike, bike, or walk one of many trails; take the family and visit a park, garden, nature center or preserve; go bird watching, canoeing, or just sit and “listen” as “Mother Earth Speaks”.
TAKE A HIKE!!
Autumn Hill Reservation
Herrontown Road & Snowden Lane, Princeton, NJ 08540
Offers complete solitude – the under-story has many brambles and vines, and seems nearly untouched. Trails through the long, narrow 72-acre tract are limited, so hikers must take care to maintain their bearings.
Churchville Nature Center
501 Churchville Lane, Churchville, PA 18966 215 357-4005
A unique place for education, preservation, and conservation, Churchville Nature Center is a facility of the Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation, and is an area rich with diversity. The contrasting environments of meadow, marsh, woodland, pond and lake are all within an easy walk. The Churchville Nature Center welcomes people of all ages… for study, active exploration and contemplation.
Cranbury Brook Preserve
South Main Street, Cranbury, NJ
Natural areas along the Cranbury Brook have been set aside for passive recreation and the preservation of natural lands in the heart of Cranbury. The preserve is to be used for walking, jogging, bird watching, fishing and the enjoyment of nature. Visitors are asked to respect the animals and natural habitat. Access is through the driveway leading to the Cranbury School soccer fields from South Main Street, across from Brainerd Lake. The preserve entrance is on the left of the driveway.
South Main Street, Pennington, NJ
Offers wonderful wooded walking trails that connect with Rosedale Park.
The Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park
145 Mapleton Road (Park Office), Princeton, NJ 08540
One of central New Jersey’s most popular recreational corridors for canoeing, jogging, hiking, bicycling, fishing and horseback riding. The canal and towpath are part of the National Recreational Trail System. The 70-mile linear park is a valuable wildlife corridor connecting fields and forests. Canoes can be rented at Griggstown and Princeton from private concessionaires(see website). One of the more heavily visited spots along the canal is in Kingston. Here the visitor can see lock #8, the locktender's house and station, and a mill site, all located along Route 27. This site also provides access to two miles of towpath along Carnegie Lake.
80 Route 206 South, Hillsborough, N.J. 08844 908 722-3700
Duke Farms, a 2700-acre estate, offers a wide range of opportunities to appreciate nature. Through seasonal tours and a variety of nature, horticulture, agriculture and recreational programs, visitors are encouraged to learn about our natural resources and become informed stewards of the land. Visitors to Duke Farms should book tours or register for classes and activities in advance, as public access to the property is by reservation only. Walk on the Wild Side at Duke Farms and explore nature at your own pace. Follow a 1.25-mile trail through a series of different habitats, discover the property's impressive array of wildlife, and learn about Duke Farms’ role as a living laboratory with ongoing restoration projects. Walk on the Wild Side tours are free and are open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10am to 3pm, however, tickets must be reserved in advance.
Etra Lake Park
Near the intersection of Milford Rd. and Etra Rd. (Rte. 571), East Windsor Township, NJ
Surrounding Etra Lake, formed by a dam across Rocky Brook, the park has two large mowed meadows separated by the Sandy Acres Farm (an active farm in summer) and a native tree arboretum. The trail skirts the meadows, passes through the farm, and surrounds the arboretum. The arboretum is accessible via many grassy (mowed) paths. There are markers labeling some trees. The parking area has many picnic facilities, play equipment, a full basketball court, soccer fields, bandstand, rest rooms, and an environmental center.
Grounds for Sculpture
18 Fairgrounds Rd., Hamilton, NJ 609 586-0616
(Check online or call for admission charges) 35 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and arboretum dedicated to the promotion and display of contemporary sculpture. Peacocks can be seen strutting around the grounds. In addition to exhibitions, there are educational programs, guided tours and special events.
King George Road, Pennington, NJ
Lovely wooded 5-acre area with sheltered picnic facilities, walking trails, playground, sand-box and basketball court. It is wonderfully shaded for those warm summer months. The walking trail will lead you to a stream where wading and catching crayfish is fun for all.
Laurie Chauncey Trail/ETS
Lawrence Township, NJ
The circular trail winds along the Stony Brook through young and mature woods to the gas pipeline right of way where the trail turns into a mowed path through a meadow. Along the way, there are many bridges over intermittent streams, beautiful views and access to the stream and one area of nice outcropping of red shale and argillite.
George Davison Road, Plainsboro
The 2.2mile trail accommodates biking, jogging, walking, and cross-country skiing.
Mercer County Parks Commission
Over 5,300 acres of park-land space with diverse offerings and facilities provide great options to enjoy active or passive recreation, enjoy beautiful scenery, play sports, or host a social function or charitable fund-raiser. Download the guidebook (or ask to see a copy at Plainsboro Library’s reference desk) and find a convenient “parks-at-a-glance” grid to help you find the amenities of your choice.
Mill Pond Park
Maple Avenue, Plainsboro
Located on the banks of Plainsboro Pond, this scenic spot is ideal for picnicking and non-motorized boating. Easy access parking across the road.
Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve
Mountain Avenue, Princeton, NJ 08540 609 924-8720
The Greater Mountain Lakes Open Space Area, a “central park” in Princeton, consists of some 400 acres just north of the center of town, with a wide variety of hiking and biking trails, some connecting to other trails. Along with views of Tusculum, the estate built by John Witherspoon, and historic Coventry Farm, it features open fields, several small streams and lakes, old stone walls, boulder fields, and old growth pine and hardwood forests.
NJ Audubon Society, 80 Scotts Corner Road, Cranbury, NJ 08512 609 897-9400
Over 1,000 acres of open space preserved in the heart of New Jersey's sprawl center, the Route 1 corridor. Enjoy over five miles of trails meandering through mature beech woods, wet meadows, and the shoreline of scenic 50-acre McCormack Lake. Walk the floodplain of Devil's Brook in search of the more than 150 species of birds that call the preserve home during the year. Plants on site consist of a diverse showing of spring wildflowers and also include over ten species of rare or endangered plant species found sparingly elsewhere in the state including the majestic southern Twayblade orchid. Don’t miss exploring the Environmental Education Center.
Princeton Battlefield State Park and Institute Woods
500 Mercer Road, Princeton, NJ 08540 609 921-0074
Open year round, the park is used for a variety of summer and winter activities including picnics, hiking, and cross country skiing. The park includes an arboretum, ball fields/playfields, historic structures, and picnic areas and walking trails.
Adjacent to the park, the Institute Woods comprises 300 acres of mixed hardwood, wetlands and agricultural land with a variety of trails. Most trails are level to slightly graded.
Quietude Garden Gallery
24 Fern Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816 732 257-4340
Quietude Garden Gallery is a fourteen year old, privately owned and run contemporary sculpture park and gallery on the property owned by Sheila and Ed Thau. There are four acres of wooded property, with over one mile of trails to help you tour the grounds, gardens and sculpture. Quietude offers a unique experience in selecting original fine sculpture at realistic prices from acclaimed and emerging artists. You are encouraged to visit and make inquiries.
Federal City Road, Hopewell Township, NJ
The 472-acre park, part of the Mercer County park system, includes a 38-acre lake stocked with trout, a softball field, quoit area, volleyball court and basketball court. There is a family picnic area with tables and charcoal grills, and a group picnic area available by reservation. Call 609-989-6536 for reservations. The trails wander through the woods and old farm fields. This is an excellent area for flying kites, bird watching, fishing and general family recreation.
The Rutgers Gardens
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 112 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 732-932-8451
The Rutgers Gardens is a world of flowering trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials that is located right in the heart of New Jersey on the G.H. Cook Campus at Rutgers University. Encompassing over 50 acres, the gardens offer plants, events, and opportunities for all.
Sayen House and Gardens
155 Hughes Dr., Hamilton, NJ 609 587-7356
The 27 acres of gardens contain more than 250,000 flowering bulbs, dogwoods, more than 1,000 heirloom azaleas and nearly 500 rhododendrons. Grounds are dotted with fishponds, water features, gazebos and walking trails.
Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed
31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, NJ 08534 609 737-3735
The Buttinger Nature Center at Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed is designed to encourage people’s inherent curiosity and wonder about the natural world. The Center is where many of the Association’s programs are held and nature hikes begin. From dawn until dusk, visitors are encouraged to explore 14 miles of hiking trails. Trails wind through forests teeming with wildlife, meander alongside the cool waters of the Stony Brook, wander fields dotted with the color of summer wildflowers and flittering butterflies, and traverse the diverse forest, marsh, and aquatic habitats that surround the pond.
Van Nest Park
Cranbury Road, Grovers Mill, NJ Small park adjacent to Grovers Mill Pond with a picnic pavilion, grills, playground equipment, boat launch and dock, open space for sports and games. There is a plaque in the park commemorating the
Martian Landing Site from the Orson Welles’War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938.
2206 Kuser Road, Hamilton, NJ 609 890-3684
333 acre park with approximately four miles of walking trails that loop around and join each other in a variety of combinations as well as more than two miles of paved bicycle trails that run through the park and connect the four entrances. The park features a large lake, the largest playground facility in New Jersey, picnic areas, athletic fields, a dog park and a skate park. Veterans Park is the site of Hamilton's enormously popular annual Septemberfest which attracts more than 100,000 people to a full day of family oriented fun. It also serves as host for outdoor concerts and fireworks displays in July and September.
Maplewood Avenue & Memorial Drive, Cranbury, NJ
A scenic, active recreational park located on Brainerd Lake. Features ball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, major playground structures, pavilion, gazebo, picnic areas and grill facilities. Small boat dock facility with access to Brainerd Lake. Also host to a stupendous 4th of July fireworks display!
Washington Crossing Historic Park and Bowman’s Hill
1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA 18977
Memorial Building and Visitor Center provides orientation and information about Washington Crossing Historic Park, documentary film, gift shop, restrooms, ticket sales and Park offices. Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is devoted to the preservation of the native plants of Pennsylvania. Features trails, programs, special events and exhibits. Bowman’s Hill Tower, a 125 foot tower commemorating the American Revolution boasts a commanding view of the Delaware River and surrounding countryside and is open seasonally.
Washington Crossing State Park
355 Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd, Titusville, NJ 08560 609 737-0609
Originally preserved for its historical significance, the park is also well known for its trails and wildlife habitat. Numerous nature programs and classes such as Family Nature Walks, Building a Rope Bridge and Solar Observations are offered year-round at the Nature Center. Check out the website for listings and registration information.
Water's Edge Park
Pond View Drive, Plainsboro
Scenic park area on Plainsboro Pond featuring non-motorized boating, a biking and jogging trail, and cross-country skiing.
Old Great Road, Princeton, NJ 08540 609 688-2566
This irregularly shaped tract of almost 100 acres is a prime illustration of undisturbed land of Princeton Ridge, which has been called an "island of forest" in a "sea of suburban and agricultural development." The Reservation is covered with a mature forest and has many fairly steep slopes, making it suitable for vigorous walkers. Two of the most interesting features of Woodfield are Council Rock, which overlooks a large, heavily bouldered basin, and Tent Rock, a massive boulder.
NEW JERSEY ROCKS!!
The geology of New Jersey is uniquely diverse and interesting. There are four physiographic provinces each with distinctive rocks and landforms. In addition, glacial deposits cover the surface in the northern-most part of the state. New Jersey also has a long history of mining for iron, copper and other minerals.
The Franklin Mineral Museum
32 Evans St., Franklin, NJ 07416 973 827-3481
The Franklin Mineral Museum has a wide range of geological, mineralogical, archaeological, and historical themes.
6 Normandy Heights Rd., Morristown, NJ 07960 973 971-3700
The museum’s geological collection, considered one of the best in New Jersey, is home to numerous specimens from throughout the world and represents 100 percent of New Jersey’s minerals, including Franklin and Watchung Mountain materials. In the Rock and Mineral Gallery, visitors can experience a variety of geological specimens in an interactive, hands-on setting or walk into a dark “cave” in which they can enjoy the florescent properties of certain pieces in a specialized light setting.
New Jersey State Museum
205 W State St., Trenton, NJ 609 292-6464
Now on extended view - Fossil Mysteries: Exploring the Prehistoric. Current exhibition now through January 24, 2010 – Rising Tide: Climate Change and New Jersey. Planetarium grand re-opening scheduled for Sept.12, 2009.
There is still plenty of Garden in the Garden State! With 9,800 farms covering 790,000 acres, New Jersey is one of the top producers in fruits and vegetables. During the growing season, many farms are open and many even allow you to pick your own fruits and vegetables right off the "vine". Enjoy Mother Earth’s bounty!
Cherry Grove Farm
3200 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648 609 219-0053
This is a certified organic 400-acre diversified farm. Free range eggs, fresh cheeses, grass-fed meat – visitors can join in for milking in the barn.
Howell Living History Farm
70 Wooden’s Lane, Lambertville, NJ 08536 609 737-3299
For the history and farm animal lover in all of us, Howell Living History Farm provides an opportunity to travel back in time and experience turn-of-the-century farming. A self-guided tour takes about an hour and a half and every day there is a list of farming activities posted in the Parking/Picnic area. As the farm provides fun and interesting year-round activities, it’s always good to check their website for more information.
Lee Turkey Farm
201 Hickory Corner Rd, East Windsor, NJ 08520 609 448-0629
A great place for children and adults who appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables and most of all, take pleasure in picking them yourself. Apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, peas, broccoli, sweet corn, and pumpkins – just to name a few.
New Jersey Museum of Agriculture
03 College Farm Road, P.O. Box 7788, North Brunswick, NJ 08902
The New Jersey Museum of Agriculture’s mission is to tell the story of the Garden State’s agriculture – past, present, and future. The museum contains permanent and changing exhibits about the evolution of agriculture in New Jersey. The 30,000 square foot facility is active throughout the year with programming that showcases the people, products, and ingenuity that established, and will continue to position, New Jersey as a leader in agriculture. The museum will be closed for summer break from August 1st through September 14th.
118 Dey Road, Cranbury, NJ 08512 609 799-0140
This family run 50+ acre farm has been selling Christmas trees for over 50 years. Open from November 28 to December 23. Thousands of u-cut trees, fresh-cut and live trees.
146 Cranbury Neck Rd. AND 62 John White Rd., Cranbury, NJ 08512 609 799-2523 Family owned and operated by the Stults Family since 1915, the farm is 200 acres of beautifully maintained preserved farmland. It is the farm’s mission to sell only quality fruits and vegetables which they grow themselves.
330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton, NJ 08540 609 924-2310
For countless hours of fun, not to mention delicious fruit and doughnuts, Terhune Orchards is the place for you! Here you will find a barnyard of animals, a pond, a tractor riding area a farm trail and nature trail, and a farm store filled with scrumptious eats to boot! Throughout the year there are special activities such as fruit picking, wagon and pony rides and different themed festivals.
Von Thun Farms
519 Ridge Road, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852 732 329-8656
Free hayrides on weekends with pick-your-own pumpkins, flowers, mums, festivals, fruits, vegetables, and tours.
Windsor Farm & Market
1202 Windsor Road, West Windsor, NJ 08550 609 443-9379
Come out and bring the entire family for a day of good old fashioned fun. Hayrides to the pumpkin patch with haunted hayrides starting at dusk. The festivities continue in December with Christmas at Windsor Farm.
150 New Jersey U-Pick farms are listed on http://www.aboutnewjersey.com/outdoors/upickFarms/
Explore more of New Jersey's State Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas and Historic Sites! Experience first-hand New Jersey's natural and historic world. Discover the many special places in this astoundingly diverse state.
For more places to walk:
New Jersey Trails Association (NJTA) lists 66 places to walk and gives you all the information you need on their website: www.njtrails.org Walking is fun, healthy, and part of an active lifestyle.
Walking also helps the planet by reducing the number of vehicles on the roads, thereby reducing the amount of fuel emissions going into the air we breathe!