Summer, 2017

Warm greetings and best wishes for an exciting season! This is our twenty-seventh year of exploration among the hills and valleys of Northwest New Jersey. We hope you keep the personality of the New Jersey Skylands near and dear when you need to freshen your horizon!

Here are some highlights from the region's calendar of events, along with some other suggestions for you and your family.

July 20 - 27

Ripe and Ready

Barnyard bustle. (Bob Thompson)
The cornstalks are rising fast, and, while you wait for local Jersey tomatoes to ripen, the next few weeks celebrate the Skylands agricultural tradition in a big way.
You can learn all about New Jersey farmers at local 4-H fairs. Plan on attending for some free family fun. You might even figure out what all those H's stand for! (hot, humid, hungry, happy!) Morris County's 4-H Fair is already in session and runs through this weekend with exhibits and all kinds of entertainment at Chubb Park on Route 24 in Chester. Somerset County 4-H Fair runs August 9-11 in Bridgewater at North Branch Park: family fun in 15 acres of exhibits, entertainment, food concessions. Hunterdon County Agricultural Fair takes place from August 23 - 27 with agricultural and 4-H Shows & Exhibits, food concessions, amusement rides. South County Park, Route 179, Ringoes.
Cilantro takes center stage at this Saturday's (July 22) Midsummer Herb Festival at Well-Sweep Herb Farm. Come and learn about the many virtues of this popular culinary and medicinal plant, as well as growing tips. A lecture and tour through the garden will also be part of the day’s activities, as well as a tasty luncheon prepared with both cilantro and coriander. Reservations are required. 908/852-5390.
And, of course, New Jersey farmers shine at the Warren County Farmers' Fair, which opens next Saturday, July 29, and runs seven days, through August 5. The Fair also features a hot-air balloon festival, so you get two great events for the very low price of one!
Then, the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show, runs from August 4 - 13, ten days of agricultural events, animals, exhibits, vendors, crafts, fair food, free entertainment and a big carnival, and much more!

History You Can Taste

Cherokee Purples, a different animal than what you find in the supermarket.
Although they produce varieties of just about any fruit or vegetable you can think of, heirloom seeds are probably best known for the great tasting tomatoes that they grow. Heirloom seeds, which have been passed down over generations, not only produce the same delicious produce that your forbears ate, but also preserve the natural variety essential to a healthy system. Modern agriculture has already resulted in the loss of 75% of the world’s edible plant varieties. You can learn more about heirlooms and New Jersey's glorious farming past with a visit to the Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum.

Bringing it all back home

Smadar English, Judy von Handorf, Hannah Hobbs, McKenna Oettinger, Sister Miriam MacGillis, and Linda Keirnan at Genesis Farm in Blairstown
Women make up twenty-two percent of New Jersey's 15,936-plus farmers, and their rate is steadily increasing (USDA Census). They come with ideals and energy to make the world a better place. They earn a living being outdoors doing what they love, and they come to educate. They all come with grit, knowledge and spirit. Meet a couple...

Farm and Function

Main gallery and event space downstairs in the farmhouse.
Adaptive reuse of historic structures that otherwise may have long disappeared from our landscape is gratifying. Farmstead Arts, located on the grounds of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead, is much more than a vestige of Bernards Township’s rural past. Today, the eighteenth century farmstead, which is listed on the Federal and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, is a vibrant arts center and serves as a model for adaptive reuse of an historic treasure. The summer schedule of concerts, theater, workshops, and other special events is sure to provide ample reason for a visit! 450 King George Road in Basking Ridge, 908/636-7576.

Rock A Bye Baby

The Rockaway Valley Railroad was about 25 miles long and lasted for about 25 years. It was constructed primarily to ship peaches, and although it also saw other freight and passenger traffic, Hunterdon County orchard owners were responsible for the railroad's commencement in 1888. Record peach crops kept the railroad afloat in the 1890s, even as the financial picture for the company clouded. Unfortunately, before the little railroad had an opportunity to turn a profit, the peaches were infected with blight, and the Hunterdon orchards passed their prime. The Little Railroad That Couldn't lives on, if only for hikers, cyclists and patrons of local lore. Take a walk and imagine the slow moving locomotive rocking back and forth on its way through the countryside.

Skylands Prime!

A Bedminster destination for 31 years (formerly Lamington General Store) located in a restored 1890's general store, Lamington Lifestyles offers two floors brimming with home decor, unique gifts, women's apparel, baby gifts, jewelry and artwork... some designed by over 80 American artisans. The store specialty is custom farm tables. 285 Lamington Rd., Bedminster, 908/ 439-2034.

Forward Thinking!

   
   

Flying jewels of summer! Eastern tiger swallowtail (Dan Bacon)
Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands this and every week this summer. Don't wait; the days are already getting shorter!

Mothers of Invention

The Van-Bunschooten Museum in Wantage
Since the turn of the 20th Century, New Jersey's Daughters of the American Revolution have been inventing ways to preserve our heritage. In Morristown, the Schuyler-Hamilton House is where Alexander Hamilton courted Betsy Schuyler during the War for Independence. On Saturday (July 15), Patricia Sanftner, a member of the local D.A.R., and curator of the Schuyler-Hamilton House, will guide a walking tour through Morristown visiting sites associated with Alexander Hamilton’s stay here in 1777 and 1779-80. The tour is one of several planned for this summer by the Morris County Tourism Bureau.
For the past forty-three years, Sussex County's D.A.R. chapter has been concerned with the renovation of a house built around 1787 as well as its preservation as the Van-Bunschooten Museum.

Let's Go!

Lackland Center at Centenary University in Hackettstown
Shake It Up this Saturday (July 15, 8pm) as Centenary Stage Company's Summer Jamfest gets rocking lift-off with Drive, A Tribute To The Cars. Mary Beth Cronin's transformation to the persona of Ric Ocasek channels the singer's '80s angst at maximum volume.
Next week, the Doo Wah Riders bring high energy country with a cajun twist to town. The Jamfest continues each Saturday night through August 12 at Centenary University's Lackland Center, 715 Grand Ave, Hackettstown. Call 908/979-0900 or click for tickets.

Notes in the field

Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, where they produce grass-fed beef and make artisanal cheeses and wood fired breads, is also a wonderful place for a late summer afternoon of music, dancing, and food. This Sunday (July 16), the Mitchell Cheng Trio gives the afternoon Pig Roast an extra dose of sauce! Reserve your roasted pig sandwich in advance, but there will also be burgers, cheese plates, and lots of veggies from the garden. 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.

Slide guitar master, Mike Esposito, will hold court at the Inn at Millrace Pond on Friday evening (July 14). 319 Hope Johnsonburg Rd. (Rt. 519), Hope., 908/459-4884.

And don't miss Darlene Love on Sunday (July 16) at the Somerset Concert Series in the Park. Rock and roll royalty for free at Duke Island Park, Old York Road, Bridgewater, 908/722-1200 .

Beat the heat with a paddle!

This time of year is perfect big time strokes on the Delaware. 331 miles from Hancock, NY, to its mouth at Cape May Point, NJ, the Delaware is the longest free-flowing river in Eastern United States. Knowing the river - its beauty, history, and its hazards - can provide you and your family with many days of enjoyment this summer.
In the Delaware Water Gap area, Adventure Sports is a great choice for a canoe, kayak or raft trip. (Click for a discount here.)
Or Chamberlain Canoes for one or multi-day trips for individuals and groups of any size. (Click for a discount here.)
The river becomes more tranquil as it continues south. Just south of Frenchtown, Bucks County River Country has provided family fun for fifty years -- kayaking, canoeing, and rafting and tubing! (Catch the deal of the day here!)

The nature of preservation

The eight miles of trails at the Schiff Nature Preserve in Mendham Township are generous with beautiful vistas, challenging terrain, and a variety of natural habitats. The preserve, which encompasses over 300 acres in this historic river valley, has a history as vast and expansive as its terrain. Knowing the stories of those who walked these trails before - from Native Americans, to Revolutionary War heroes, to Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America - will embellish your trip. And visitors can be confident in the stewardship at the preserve that will usher it into the future.

Skylands Prime

This magnificent sculpture, entitled Migration of Golden Plovers, is carved from walnut, and 37 inches long. The carvers, Dave and Mary Ahrendt of Hackensack, Minn., are two of dozens of world-renown wildlife artists represented at the Decoys and Wildlife Gallery in Frenchtown. The hundreds of original paintings and carvings that reside at the gallery comprise a collection that invites personal presence, rather than casual on-line review. Skylands Prime! 55 Bridge Street, Frechtown, 1-888-996-6501
Ride the Morris Canal at Waterloo Village this Saturday.
Temperature's rising, but don't let it slow you down! Take advantage of a calendar sizzling with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Art, music, crafts, high country, and cool, clear evenings. What more could you ask for on a mid-summer weekend? Don't wait; the summer days are melting away!

Northbound

Father and son look out from Sunrise Mountain.
Chances are, you're going to find yourself traveling on Rt. 206 through Sussex County on the way to your favorite campground, park or event sometime this summer. Slow down long enough for a brief detour through the old-time borough of Branchville, a bit above Newton. Just one-half square mile large, it is packed with history and interesting people -- where contemporary meets traditional. Surrounded by mountains and glacial lakes, farms, wineries, campgrounds, state parks and forests, Branchville and its nearby country pleasures are worth a visit.

The Dark Side

Craters of the moon, photographed from 238,855 miles away at the UACNJ site in Jenny Jump State Forest by Wolfgang Damm, NWJAA.

What better occupation on a serene summer evening than to star gaze? The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey (UACNJ) facilities in Jenny Jump State Forest, near Hope in Warren County, are 1,100 feet above sea level, one of the few dark sky locations left in the state. And at Voorhees State Park in Glen Gardner, the New Jersey Astronomical Association has installed a 26-inch Newtonian reflector telescope, one of the largest privately owned telescopes in New Jersey. But there's more than stars in the sky. How about fireflies? Experience their magic at this weekend's Firefly Festival at Duke Farms! It's free, but please register in advance.


Visit The Wild Woods This Summer!

Got the secret desire to be an explorer? Envy Indiana Jones? Ever yearn for the excitement of bushwhacking through uncharted lands? Adventure is yours, right here in New Jersey. Discover over 305,000 acres of little known forests, meadows, streams, and lakes collectively called Wildlife Management Areas - all public property, all owned by the people of New Jersey. This land is your land!

Pursuit of Happiness!

Lighting up Mountain Lake, Warren County. Photo by Frank Cheh.
Declare your right to a summer fit for royalty! What better place to pursue happiness than Northwest New Jersey? Firecrackers, fairs, picnics and independence! There's always a link to good old summer time.
The restored Jacobus Vanderveer House
The Pluckemin Cantonment tells one of the great overlooked stories of the American Revolution. Hidden atop Shley Mountain, in Bedminster until the summer of 1966, the story of General Henry Knox and America's first military academy is now documented in his restored former home, the Jacobus Vanderveer House. Read more...

The Mighty Musky

The Asbury Mill will soon be restored as an interpretive center for the Musconetcong Watershed Association.
The Musconetcong River runs forty-two miles down from Lake Hopatcong to the Delaware River. But in that brief distance, the river and its valley describe, for better or worse, the evolution of modern American culture in the advance of agriculture, transportation and industry. Exploration of the valley is never short on delightful surprises, and deserves to be on your summer itinerary. The village of Asbury is a good place to begin.

Short Walks on the Long Trail

The Appalachian Trail, which stretches over two thousand miles from Georgia to Maine, enters New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap, heads north along the Kittatinny Ridge to High Point, then east through the Pochuck Valley. The 72-mile New Jersey section is mostly undeveloped, and striking panoramas -- comparable to those in the Blue Ridge, Berkshire, and White Mountains, even the fabled Great Smokies -- are not uncommon along this rugged and remote section of trail. You can explore the midsection of New Jersey's Appalachian Trail as it traverses two of our most celebrated state parks — High Point and Stokes Forest — and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, along a 45-mile route along the Kittatinny Ridge through Sussex and Warren counties. Country lanes or park roads every few miles intersect the entire stretch so that you can plan any number of modest day hikes along the AT. Or take a couple of days to walk the whole distance. Elevation in this section ranges from 350 to 1,685 feet, and, if you prefer to walk downhill most of the time, hike north to south. You can conquer the Trail this summer by taking these suggested day hikes.

Dragons and Damsels

Did you ever notice those large insects zipping over streams and ponds all summer long, skimming the water, then shooting about in zigzag patterns that make your head spin watching them? Dragonflies and damselflies, collectively belonging to the taxonomic order Odonata, are named for their prominent biting mouthparts and predatory nature. Not to worry -- they don't bite or sting people! Amazing is the fact that there are more species of dragonflies in Sussex County (145, out of a possible 182 in NJ) than any other county in the United States! And this time of year is the best time to watch.

Tickets to ride!

       

Easy living!

Summertime adventure is easy at Blue Mountain Lakes.
Nothing brings back a summer memory better than an old tune you hear on the radio. But is there a greater classic summer song than George Gershwin's Summertime? And the living is easy! Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands. Take advantage of a schedule full of intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Pay attention, the days are already getting shorter!

Come and listen to a story...

See the new Highlands Canal Boat recovery exhibit at Waterloo Canal Day!
For many, Waterloo Village is the place that most completely identifies the heritage of northern New Jersey. Waterloo was approximately half-way along the Morris Canal's 102-mile journey across the state, from Phillipsburg to Jersey City, and had all the components necessary to become a thriving canal town.
This Saturday's (June 24) Canal Day at Waterloo Village in Byram Township, the Canal Society of New Jersey will offer guided tours of the restored canal village, along with a wide range of programming. A narrated canal boat ride, trades demonstrated at the gristmill and blacksmith shops, period music and eight historic structures open for inspection promise revival for this important historic site. Waterloo Village is stuffed with stories -- and a new one has been added, about the recovery of a lost Morris Canal boat which is now on display! For more information click or call 973-292-2755.

Summer Song

Rich and varied, music in Northwest New Jersey is just the ticket for evenings that end on high notes. Your musical destination is never very far away and often the price can't be beat. Keep an eye on the list!

The third annual Concerts in the Barn series kicks off this Saturday evening (June 24) with Simply Brass. Come enjoy this ensemble of accomplished musicians as they fill the grand old barn with regal sounds. The venue is part of the Historic Ramsaysburg Homestead along the Delaware River on Route 46 at Ramseyburg Road in Knowlton Township.

And look forward to Saturday evenings, July 15 - August 12, when the Centenary Stage Company brings Summer Jamfest to Hackettstown with five shows that feature all facets of popular music. First up is Drive - A Tribute to the Cars.

Music performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is the main event at this Sunday's (June 25) Giralda Music and Arts Festival, which takes place on the beautiful lawns of the former Dodge estate in Madison. Gates open at 4pm, $20/ $5 children.

On Sunday evenings, bring lawn chairs and a picnic supper to Oxford for free Shippen Manor Lawn Concerts. This week, Egress brings the sounds of vaudeville and swing.

And the Somerset Concert Series in the Park is always a good bet. Shows are free and take place on Sunday evenings at Duke Island Park in Bridgewater.

The beautiful historic gardens of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum will be the backdrop for a superb line up of musicians on Sunday afternoons at 2pm. This week (June 25), Spook Handy will remember Pete Seeger. 973/538-2404

Every other Tuesday at 12:30pm, Music Beyond Borders graces the Green in Morristown with sounds from around the world. On June 27, Brian Conway's Irish fiddle promises an especially delightful lunch hour. 973/285-5115

The Hunterdon Symphony opens the 41st annual Music Under The Stars series, next Thursday (June 29). Presented by the Hunterdon County Park System, free concerts are held on subsequent Thursday evenings throughout the summer.

Friday evenings feature the Folk Project's lively Minstrel Concert Series. On June 30, Happy Traum, the living legend finger-style guitarist and '60s Greenwich Village folk singer, will pick his stuff at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Rd..
All shows begin at 7:30pm and the admission is usually $10. 973/335-9489.

Grab a lawn chair or blanket and come enjoy a wide range of musical talent each Friday at the magnificent New Jersey Botanical Gardens in Ringwood. This week, (June 23) The Kootz will kick up the summer heat with your favorite Rock 'n' Roll.


Skylands By Saddle

Riding is a partnership!
In a land crisscrossed by interstates, punctuated with traffic lights, and clogged with cars, it’s easy to overlook how much northwestern New Jersey territory you can still cover on a horse. Through warm summer months and into fall, you can explore rivers, streams, fields, and hills and enjoy remote views and vistas—all from the saddle. Across the Skylands region, a horse can take you where no car can—faster and sometimes farther afield than your own two feet. Exercise? Certainly. But also the pleasure of working with a 1,000-pound companion who can handle the footwork. Saddle up!

Major Scales

Heading for cover off Old Mine Road. Photo by Bob Thompson
Nobody's gonna tell you they're cute and cuddly, or anything less than dangerous, but timber rattlesnakes are state endangered and protected by law. They are vulnerable animals. As part of a forest's ecology, they keep the rodent population down and in turn are eaten by hawks, owls, other snakes, and coyotes. They disappear in the hands of collectors, the jaws of predators, and the shovels of bulldozers. They die crossing roads. They die because their den becomes the home of homo sapiens. More...

Go Daddy Go!

Dads love to paddle, and the Delaware River is the place to do it! Islands of the Delaware are markers for the miles traversed on a float down the river, and for centuries of human history along its banks. By canoe, kayak, raft or tube, river trips are about perfect this time of year. The water is high, the flow is brisk, and the summer crowds have not yet arrived.
In the Delaware Water Gap area, Adventure Sports is a great choice for a canoe, kayak or raft trip. (Click for a discount here.)
Or Chamberlain Canoes for one or multi-day trips for individuals and groups of any size. (Click for a discount here.)
The river becomes more tranquil as it continues south. Just south of Frenchtown, Bucks County River Country has provided family fun for fifty years -- kayaking, canoeing, and rafting and tubing! (Catch the deal of the day here!)

Hungry Dads

Bienvenido! Dinner is an adventure at Riviera Maya
Make your Dad feel loved by treating him to a special meal. You know the connection: stomach... heart.
If you've never been to Riviera Maya, now's the time! Celebrating ten fantastic years in their Branchville (340 Route 206) location, this family-owned authentic Mexican restaurant offers all your favorites with a few surprises, expertly prepared and exquisitely presented. Come enjoy a fun and exciting dining experience here, in their other fine-dining location in Rockaway, or at their Taqueria in Morris Plains and the Rockaway Mall. 973/948-6292

Or head out to the lower Musconetcong Valley for an adventure and a good meal. In the village of Asbury, you can't go wrong at The Willows for a steak, delicious plate of seafood, or anything else you might imagine Dad might savor among a collection of weekend specials. There's also a cozy tap room serving up a variety of craft beers. 288 Anderson Rd. Asbury, 908/574-5101

Walking Dads

The Hunterdon section of the Columbia Trail includes occasional interpretive signs which relate the area's history.
Take Dad station to station along any of Hunterdon County's Rail Trails. While Hunterdon's system of rails was not as intricate as farther north, where mining was more prevalent, the county was home to many spur lines used to transport passengers and products to charming villages and hamlets. Exercise for the body and mind!

Outdoor Dads!

Cabins are now available at most campgrounds.
Campgrounds in the Skylands account for a huge amount of fun. Over 500,000 campers relax and enjoy the rural character of Northwest New Jersey each year. Most of these visits come in summer; short overnight or weekend camping trips. But many families make a Skylands campground their own vacation home, renting seasonal sites or bringing their own RV to rest at a lovely -- and well-serviced -- spot somewhere up in the New Jersey countryside. These facilities are a long way from generic trailer hookups and tent sites. Take a drive or click away and check one out soon! What dad wouldn't enjoy hanging around the campfire, testing marshmallows and telling stories?
  • Camp Taylor Campground
    Camp Taylor offers a wilderness atmosphere with the security and services that public areas often lack, with access to a swimming lake and trails that lead hikers through strikingly beautiful forest to mountain laurel atop a 1600 foot ridge. Seasonal Sites, Tenters, RV rental, Cabins near the Delaware Water Gap. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. 85 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4333
  • Harmony Ridge Campground
    Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest. There are over 200 sites and many activities to choose from; a large pavilion, playground, game courts, swimming pool, paddle boats. The friends and memories you make here will last a lifetime. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973-948-4941
  • Tall Timbers Campground and Recreational Community
    The private campground community offers central water and sewage disposal, two pools with certified lifeguards and a private stocked lake perfect for fishing, and an exceptional recreation program and activities for all. The northern Sussex County location is close to High Point State Park, Action Park and Mountain Creek Ski Area. 100 Tall Timbers Rd, Sussex 07461, 973/875-1991
  • Triple Brook Family Camping Resort
    Park yourself on a 250 acre farm tucked away in the legendary Kittatinny Mountains. Spend the season steps away from an Olympic size pool, heated whirlpool spa, private lake, tennis courts, and fully stocked camp store. You'll have time to explore all the natural attractions in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation a few miles away, or the Pocono Mountains. There's also an open air pavilion available for weddings, picnics, retreats. 58 Honey Run Rd., Hope, 908/459-4079.
  • Kymer's Camping Resort
    Trailer and cabin rentals and trailer and tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on 200 scenic acres. 69 Kymer Rd., Branchville, 800/543-2056
  • Delaware River Family Campground
    Enjoy raft, canoe, kayak or tube trips, trailer and tent campsites as well as trailer and cabin rentals. 100 Route 46, Columbia, 800/543-2056
  • Panther Lake Camping Resort
    Camp on a private 45-acre lake on 160 scenic acres where you can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing or just relaxing on a sandy beach. 6 Panther Lake Rd., Andover, 800/543-2056

Field Hands

June is the season for Strawberries!
As June progresses, so does the season of berries, the best-loved fruits of summer. Beginning with the strawberries and languishing until the frosts of October, there is ample opportunity for berry-lovers to get out and savor the goodness of a native fruit. More juicy details...
For immediate gratification, take a ride to the Sussex County Strawberry Farm at 565 Rt 206 N, Andover. Call 973/579-5055 to see what's ripe!
Or check the New Jersey Department of Agriculture Jersey Fresh, for farmers' markets, roadside stands, and "pick-your-own" operations near you!

The Right Time

White Lake awaits. (Jacob Bryant)
White Lake reveals all the layers that make a place really interesting. The swans that grace the water's sparkling surface, the feisty fish beneath, and the surrounding fields and forest are immediately captivating to the casual observer. The white streaks on the lake's bottom consist of marl, are prehistoric deposits of aquatic shells. Now under the stewardship of the Ridge and Valley Conservancy, one of a series of Moonlight Paddles will be hosted this Friday, June 9, with a limited number of kayaks available on a first-come, first-served basis. For your GPS, White Lake is located at 97 Stillwater Road (Rt. 521), Blairstown, 07825 .

Take a Float on the Wild Side!

Heading upstream through the Refuge from Bassetts Bridge, the Wallkill is a corridor of beauty.
The Wallkill River shares with great rivers like the Nile and the Rhine the peculiarity of northward flow. From out of Lake Mohawk, it spills over a dam then becomes a stream, bubbling and rushing fast, seeming most determined to be free.

Big Bucks

If you like to hike in New Jersey, chances are you know Worthington State Forest. But few of the hikers, campers, canoeists, and nature lovers that visit Worthington realize that industrial pumps are responsible for the preserved wilderness and natural wonders that they enjoy there. Charles C. Worthington, a prominent and very wealthy New York socialite, sportsman, fisherman, and skilled rifleman, assembled this park in the late nineteenth century. He called it Buckwood Park. More...

Hacklebarney Heaven

Hacklebarney State Park is 892 acres of glacial valley, with gorges carved by the Black River and two tributaries that feed it, the Rinehart and Trout Brooks. The dogs play and we talk in celebration of meeting in these Robin Hood woods. We stand on outcrops jutting over the river and gaze in awe at the grass, moss and seedlings living in the rocks brought here long ago. Walk on...

Beach Front

Tomahawk Lake
Don't miss the 65th opening weekend at Tomahawk Lake Waterpark in Sparta. Visitors have always loved the immaculate sand bottom sloping gently out to floating rafts. Since those old days, the park has added a mountain of water slides including the “The Apache Plunge”, a 610 foot mammoth flume raft ride for four people along with “Sitting Bull“, a serpentine double flume body slide and “Crazy Horse” racing slide. Back ashore you can visit a large refreshment stand, outdoor beer garden (with live weekend entertainment), an ice cream trailer, a novelty trailer, an arcade, an 18 hole miniature golf course, a putting green and a ball field. For information call the lake office at (973) 398-7777 or check their website.

Heavenly Hues

June brings on the deep pinks of Carolina rose at Jenny Jump.
The wildflower show opens in early spring with small, ground-hugging blossoms only a few inches or so tall. As the season unfolds, the tree canopy leafs out, and wildflowers grow taller, reaching for the sun and no longer held back by frosts. Unlike long-blooming, non-native annuals that pervade the nursery trade, native perennial wildflowers bloom briefly, anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the species. A regular visit to particularly robust nature preserves can reveal different wildflowers blooming each time. Jenny Jump State Forest has a magical variation in elevation and terrain that makes it a rewarding site for spring forest flowers.

High Society

Considering the social complexity of a hive, a beekeeper—a meteorologist, botanist and entomologist all at once—cultivates an appreciation for the natural world. Local honey is a treasure. Not only does it taste better than that made by commercial “big box” bees that eat one thing all their lives, but local honey also helps your immune system resist locally-induced allergies. There is a delicate light spring honey that comes from the flowers of oaks, willows and other big trees that border the fields. Darker honey comes later in the year, from late season wild flowers. Ask a beekeeper about the medicinal powers of honey, the magic of propolis, or his recipes for making mead, then sit back and listen.

Planet Jersey!

If you come upon a wood turtle, admire that groovy carapace and those sexy red legs; and move him out of the road if you have to. But you may not take him home! Wood turtles gained designation as a threatened species in 1979 because of habitat loss and their popularity in the illegal pet trade. There ten types of turtles in our neck of the woods; all quite fascinating, but let them be! Take a closer look...
For turtles and more, take advantage of a calendar budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or check our Day Trip Map for good ideas for recreational enhancement! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go.

The Right Path

The Farm Barn visitor orientation center at Duke Farms.
It is difficult to see it all in one day, but a few scattered afternoons would be well spent at Duke Farms. Even if you're breezing through on a bike, some areas are accessible only on foot. Whether you enjoy wildlife watching, wildflower photography, ancient champion trees, geocaching, tracking the marks of man, or a sublime picnic, remember that Duke Farms is a park with a mission.

Ready To Go

Boat launch near the spillway dam at Echo Lake
The Pequannock Watershed, which weaves through and around Newfoundland and West Milford, has been called one of the New Jersey’s last wilderness areas. To call it wild might seem exaggeration, and yet, with an extraordinary amount of land undeveloped and restricted, the word applies. A swath of forest crisscrossed by trails, some rough or unpaved roads, occasionally punctuated by development, the territory is familiar in places; rugged in others. There are miles of trails up, down, and around a mini-range of mountains, through woods, past rocky streams, still lakes and reservoirs, with glimpses of the ruins of a stone castle and abandoned iron mines, all framed by dramatic shears, sliced by the Wisconsin Glacier ages ago. Get familiar this spring!


Yardology

Your backyard can be more than just an area you need to mow on Saturdays. You don't need a team of horses, or even a mule, to turn it into an agricultural paradise and wildlife observatory. Here are few ideas...
Is your garden in? Anyone can grow their own veggies in garden plots, raised beds, deck planters or any small space. It saves money, it's good for you and it's fun! Learn how to get the most out of your earth by examining Mary's best (and easiest) veggie garden primer. How does your garden grow?
Or check these tips about growing your own Victory Garden!

Forest Flowers

Wild geranium, an early bloomer in the Musconetcong Gorge. (Rachel Mackow)
The emergence and duration of native wildflower displays can vary annually, depending on temperatures and rainfall. This well-watered spring promises a great show along wooded trails. Musconetcong Gorge Reservation has a special mix of natural and human history that makes it a rewarding botanical site in the late spring months of May and June.

In the mist

In 1959, galvanized community activists fought a proposed jetport that threatened the Great Swamp watershed. They raised enough money and support to donate thousands of acres to the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge was born. To explore the Refuge Wilderness Area, trails begin in a multitude of locations. Or, begin at the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center, named after one of the key community activists in the formation of the refuge, at 32 Pleasant Plains Road, Harding Township.

History You Can Taste

Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum.
Although they produce varieties of just about any fruit or vegetable you can think of, heirloom seeds are probably best known for the great tasting tomatoes that they grow. Heirloom seeds, which have been passed down over generations, not only produce the same delicious produce that your forbears ate, but also preserve the natural variety essential to a healthy system. Modern agriculture has already resulted in the loss of 75% of the world’s edible plant varieties. You can learn more about heirlooms and New Jersey's glorious farming past with a visit to the Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum, open this weekend! 82 Delaware Rd., Columbia.

All Along the Byway

The Millstone Valley Scenic Byway is a narrow 23-mile roadway loop paralleling the western side of the Millstone River and the eastern side of the Delaware & Raritan Canal between the villages of Millstone and Kingston. Found within the Byway are eight Historic Districts containing buildings of historic and architectural importance; a twelve-mile section of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park that offers preserved vintage dwellings, albeit mostly private; an intact section of the D&R Canal with its locks and towpath; vintage bridges; and roadways over which Revolutionary War troops marched nearly 240 years ago. Outdoor enthusiasts can fish, hike, bike, jog, horse-back ride, canoe or kayak and bird-watch at various locations. A perfect road trip!

Dig Your Earth!

Asian pears can be a beautiful and delicious addition to your backyard. (Gina Barkovitch)
Make your landscape edible with a backyard orchard, organic style! Start with a tree or two and learn as you go. Here are a few ideas...

Big River

The confluence of the North and South Branch at Bridgewater.
In April come streams, "ripe and full with rain" as the song says, from the highlands to valleys carved long ago. The Raritan South Branch resembles an arm embracing northwest New Jersey as it runs southwest from Budd Lake through communities it has nourished for hundreds of years, valleys dripping with serenity, and wooded vistas perfumed with the fragrance of a mountain stream. The reservoirs at Spruce Run and Round Valley near Clinton mark the river's "elbow" as it turns to head southeast to the Piedmont, tranquilized, but no less beautiful as it approaches Raritan Bay. For those in search of the latest in nature's seasonal fashions, glances of living local heritage, or the tug of a Jersey trout, following the South Branch from Mt. Olive to Duke Farms in Hillsborough yields a memorable Earth Day ramble. Check your Google Map, grab your GoPro, maybe hitch your Raleigh or Old Town to the car top, and get started.

Legstretchers

At the Sourlands Mountain Preserve on East Mountain Road in Hillsborough, three trails begin at the same Trail Head across the grass from the parking lot. Grab a map in the kiosk and enter the woods for this pleasant hike in Somerset County. Take the four-mile Ridge Trail, designated with a rectangular blaze. The blazes here are carved wooden plaques in geometric shapes. Walks are always easy at the trailhead, and this one starts with a smooth gravel/dirt path under tall trees.

Bird Call

Silent in winter, a loon's spring call is eerie, from the age of dinosaurs. (Dan Bacon)
The pursuit of birds in view appeals to lots of people for lots of reasons. Beyond the activity's obvious natural allure, "chasing" birds keeps watchers physically fit. Learning and identifying hundreds of species on the fly challenges the intellect and intensifies awareness. And for photographers and illustrators, there is no better subject. The concentration of ridges, valleys and wetlands in our area holds a fortune of interaction with the avian experience any time of year, but especially in spring...

One Fine Day

As a lover and painter of old mills, Dan Campanelli was encouraged to seek out this mill in Finesville for painting by the woman who now owns and has restored it.
The season is ripe for a drive through the lower Musconetcong Valley. Taking Route 519 south from Alpha through Springtown, the narrow macadam curves west joins Route 627, hugging the lower Musconetcong River for its last few miles of existence through a little-known collection of ancient settlements and beautiful farms.

In the Zone

The immense Boehm Barn, too large to move to Millbrook Village for preservation, still stands in the woods above Old Mine Road, just northeast of Poxono island.
Since the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA), observed its fiftieth anniversary in 2015, the park staff has been busy soliciting public comment in order to formulate operational parameters for the future. The plan to address the fate of seven-hundred historic structures that still stand within the park's boundary is now underway, establishing priorities for those that hold any promise for the coming years. DEWA has made a list and map available to help the public evaluate those sites, which also makes a great planner for early spring hikes. Download the map and bring it along to search out some of these places; most won't make the cut. This time of year is perfect, before the prickly invasive multi-flora rosa completely chokes the woods. But take all protection against ticks if you get off the beaten track.

On Top of Old Morris

On the southeast side of the park, a broad and colorless swamp is eerily populated by a host of beaver cut and half fallen, decaying trees. (C. J. Kern)
Rising beyond the eastern shore of the Rockaway River, in Boonton Township, stands the Tourne, a modest mountain known for its rocky terrain and spectacular New York skyline views. Add a wildflower trail, a big-time bog, and miles of historic river valley, and you've got a prime spring adventure. More...

King of Drakesville

The King Store Museum on Main Street in Ledgewood, once known as Drakesville.
Just off Route 10, near the old, now-vanished, Ledgewood Circle, a stone's throw from the mall, the Drakesville Historic Park pays tribute to Morris County's pedigree of innovative pioneers. Ledgewood's historic district consists of three museums located on Main Street —the King Store, flanked by the King Homestead and the Silas Riggs House—all in the vicinity of the Morris Canal's Inclined Plane 2 and 3 East and two canal basins. Read more about Drakesville, then plan on a first-hand visit during this Sunday's (April 9) Spring Open House for special tours and programs from 1 - 4pm at 209-213 Main Street in Ledgewood.

Serious Steps

For a less formal visit to hallowed historical turf, journey down to the northwest corner of Bernardsville, to a road named Hardscrabble, and the field where the New Jersey Brigade arrived in December 17, 1779 to begin the Jockey Hollow Encampment. Trails crisscross wooded knolls, open meadows, and streams through, not only Morristown National Historical Park, but the neighboring Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, the historic Cross Estate, and mysterious hillsides full of legends. More...

Wonders of Barley

Czig Meister Brewery in Hackettstown has a wide open, German beer hall feeling.
A wave of new craft breweries has decorated the New Jersey countryside, often providing a disused building with a bright commercial future. What could be better than making beer, and lots of people happy, for a living? Be prepared to explore a world of flavors described by terms like silky citrus, soft pinee, candy coated, tropical, hoppy, smokey, backbone. Your palate needs some schooling, and that’s the other great thing about brewery taste rooms—you learn by doing!

The Long Way Home

Workers discovered this Morris Canal boat under a Jersey shore home that they were raising onto piers after damage from Hurricane Sandy. The Canal Society of New Jersey brought it home to Waterloo Village.
Read about how a Morris Canal boat completed its long journey home. If you're inspired to learn more,you can enjoy a day of presentations by the Canal Society of New Jersey on a wide range of canal and local history topics at this Saturday's (March 25) Canals and Local History Symposium. Plan on a full day, including snacks and lunch, with the Canal Society’s traveling exhibit, artifacts, books for sale and videos. Haggerty Center at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 353 E. Hanover Ave., Morristown. To reserve a spot ($15), email macgraphics1@verizon.net or call 973/292-2755.

Find Your Furnace

It is not difficult to track down the Andover mine's location. But beware that the property is private and that trespassing is prohibited.
What's in a name? As far back as the early 1700s the name Andover was used by the Penns, owners of a large tract here granted to them by the Proprietors, to refer to the whole general area in Sussex County. Over the years, various sites have borne the Andover name, including local iron mines, forges, furnaces, factories and settlements with a connection with these early iron interests. More...

Picture of Health

Vilma, a barred owl found by the side of the road when she was a year old, had a compound fracture of the left wing has no sustainable flight. She is known for her beak snapping during programs at The Raptor Trust.
Its BBS! (baby bird season) The thing about baby birds is that some of them fall out of their nest. What to do if you come across an orphan or two? Call The Raptor Trust! Although it's known for rehabilitating hawks, eagles, and owls, The Raptor Trust, in Millington, looks after all avian styles. Want to guess how many they've fixed over thirty-five years? You can also go there and see some amazing "rock star" raptors.

Schooley's Elusive Spirit

Mysteries of the woods
Running northeast for twenty miles from Glen Gardner to Lake Hopatcong, Schooley’s Mountain’s steep sides rise to a broad top between the Musconetcong River and, for most of its length, the South Branch of the Raritan. The mountain presents a dichotomy of striking scenes from the past, interspersed with groups of modern homes and stores. Heavily traveled periphery highways are connected by a web of narrow rural roads that still meander as they did when “horse power” meant just that. The mountain’s southern portion holds routes worthy of exploring, hamlets for artists to ponder, and natural areas for hikers, all shrouded in tantalizing lore that begs a historian’s query. Read on...

Landmarks

Bill's Luncheonette, the repository and symbol of Ironia’s heritage.
In "Lower Ironia", Main Street still exists today. It is a small residential roadway to nowhere... unless one is familiar with the history. Today, the former railroad bed, from the location of the Ironia station and through to the Chester station, is part of the Morris County Park System's Patriot's Path. Additional trails connect through the Black River Wildlife Management Area and up to Bill's General Store. More...

A Silk Purse

The four-story plant built by Pelgram and Meyer on Monroe and Lincoln Streets in Boonton employed 500 people until it shut in 1927. It is now home to Kanter Auto Products.
For over two centuries a prolific iron industry wielded huge influence over the development of many Morris County communities. In particular, the forges, furnaces, and mines of Dover, Wharton and Boonton, all located along the banks of the Rockaway River, were intimately connected from the early 1700s through the heady times of the Morris Canal and the subsequent railroads. There are sites to see; take a look around!

Along the Western Front

Fort Ellison
This small stone building is believed to be the ruins of Fort Carmer, one of a line of forts from the French and Indian War.
Two decades before the American Revolution, the Royal Province of New Jersey prepared itself for the culmination of seventy years of bickering between the French and the English colonists. During the French and Indian War, the government was forced to take measures to protect New Jersey's northwestern frontier along the Delaware River from the increasing threat of marauding Indians, allies of the French armies. A line of forts and blockhouses were commissioned from Belvidere, in Warren County, through what is now the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, to Port Jervis, New York, with soldiers patrolling between them. Get out your hiking shoes, pump up your bike tires, or warm up the car and trace this line of forts!

Learning Lenape

For Archaic peoples, rock shelters, consisting of natural overangs or hillside depressions, were temporary stopovers that offered protection from the rain and snow. In winter they might have been closed in with windbreaks made from skins or brush.
The native people of northwestern New Jersey had no written history. In fact, they had no writing except for the use of pictographs, some of which were carved on stone. Much of what we do know about New Jersey's prehistory is a result of work done by archaeologists, or from early accounts by explorers and travelers, along with journals kept by missionaries and settlers in the 1600s and early 1700s. For over 12,000 years the Lenape and their ancestors occupied northwestern New Jersey, successfully adapting to climatic changes in their environment. But, after a little more than a century following European colonization, only a few Indians remained. Arrowheads, stone axes, pottery and other objects are still occasionally found in a farmer's field or along a riverbank, but only a rough sketch of a robust culture remains; we know nothing of the human deeds and dramas that occurred. More...

Storied Storeys

Architectural gems of bygone eras flank the streets of Flemington: Victorian and Queen Anne houses. Italianate office buildings. Greek Revival manors. Richly detailed work enhances the old buildings: high pitched roofs, fish scale shingles, brick arches, carved pedestals, decorative bric-a-brac, carved wreaths. More than half of the buildings appear on the National Register of Historic Places. More...

Just to the west of the chaotic rotary where routes 202, 31 and 12 converge, Flemington's Main Street offers a grace note in the midst of cacophony. Carefully tended to evoke other eras, the historic district offers something increasingly rare in New Jersey: a place where it seems right and proper to walk, to appreciate the view, to slow down. To revitalize the downtown, a redeveloper wants to demolish the Union Hotel and three other 19th century buildings in the heart of Flemington’s historic downtown to make way for a four-acre, seven- and eight-story mixed-use complex with 900 parking spaces. Adaptation or degradation?


Comments

b krauss
24 Mar 2016, 13:44
You are my all time favorite local magazine & newsletter!!!!! Loved each issue. Such a feeling of community, nature, and wonder.
We've moved out of the area & are passing along copies of your magazine to the new owners of our home.
Please remove my name from your email list for the newsletter.
Much success in the future.
Thanks so much for the glorious entertainment !
Barbara.











Rebecca Seamon
09 Jun 2013, 07:49
Blairstown Dog Park in Warren County NJ to hold Grand Opening.\r\n\r\nThe Blairstown Dog Park located on Lambert Road in Blairstown plans to have a Grand Opening Celebration on June 22 from 10am until 12pm. Rain date is June 23. \r\n\r\nThe Grand Opening Celebration will feature a dog costume contest, giveaways, food, fun and instant membership with completed form and proof of vaccines.\r\n\r\nWhat began as a small idea in November 2010 has finally turned into a reality. With a land donation from the township, the Blairstown Dog Park is a large, 1-acre fenced in area where people can bring their dogs to socialize and run off leash. It was completely funded and run by volunteers and generous donations.\r\n\r\nOpen to anyone, members must first complete a membership form and show proof of license and vaccines. A membership fee also applies.\r\n\r\nThe Blairstown Dog Park is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. For more information and forms- www.blairstowndogpark.com. Membership forms are also available at the Blairstown Library and Municipal building. \r\n
Ray Kleban
26 May 2013, 04:35
Hi, how do I reach out to someone at skylands to post a notice of an event - a fundraiser in sussex county? Is there a charge?\r\n\r\nthank you in advance \r\nray kleban
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