Spring, 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.

May 24 - 31

Memorial Day

Next to the Court House and part of its view, a grand War Memorial depicts the names of all known Warren County deceased veterans from World War I to present, with names still being added. The memorial exemplifies the respect, appreciation and gratitude that forged its creation.
There are somewhere around 1,200 historical markers in New Jersey, 500 of them in the Northwest Skylands region. Many are monuments to war veterans from all eras and in all sizes. The Branchburg Veterans Memorial covers six wars at once: the American Revolution, Civil War, Word Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam. In Flemington there is a marker that you can't see from the road in memory of "Vietnam War Dogs and Their Handlers." The Lambertville 8-12 Baseball League erected a memorial to PFC Charles L. Danberry who gave his life serving in the Marine Corp in Vietnam. A block or so away, the graves of Revolutionary War Lieutenant, George Coryell and "one of Gen. Washington's spies," Sam Holcombe, have been marked by the Hunterdon Cultural and Heritage Commission. And John Basilone stands larger than life on a little triangular intersection in the Borough of Raritan, his bronze statue sculpted by a boyhood friend and installed in 1948. Monuments like these decorate Northwest New Jersey in prominent and tucked away places. They are statues and plaques, fine-crafted or natural rock; some are pedestaled and others are so discreet as to appear part of the natural landscape. They all commemorate a part of our history, and often remind us of courageous men and women who have served our country. More...

This Memorial Day Weekend, take advantage of a calendar bursting 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.

Pedals to the Medals

Photo: Alan Hartmann
The annual three-day Tour of Somerville Cycling Series culminates every Memorial Day with the fifty-mile Kugler-Anderson race, named in honor of its first winners, Furman Kugler of Somerville (1940, 1941) and Carl Anderson of Clifton (1942). Both men lost their lives during World War II. Furman’s father, Fred “Pop” Kugler, whose strength and skill in his era as a cycling champion were the foundation of the enterprises that informed the rest of his career, advanced the sport of competitive cycling by coaching succeeding generations of cyclists and developing racing bikes. Begun under his direction, the Tour of Somerville has consistently drawn the best racing cyclists in America to the roadways of Somerset County.

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.

On The List!


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.

Spring Prescription

Lusscroft Farm, in Wantage, attracts gardeners, farmers, educators, artists and nature lovers to this historical gem each spring. This weekend's (May 20-21) Ninth Annual Medicine Wheel Festival and Community Garden Celebration features an array of great live music, house tours, a pop-up art gallery, gardening workshops, plant walks, garden tours & hikes, a plant sale, craft and food vendors, a bake sale, horse-drawn rides, and more! Admission is $7 for adults, children (under 18) are free. Proceeds support the growth and and preservation of the gardens and buildings at historic Lusscroft Farm. Directions and more information is available online at LusscroftFarm.org. The event is presented by the Friends of the Medicine Wheel, part of the non-profit Heritage & Agriculture Association, in cooperation with the NJ DEP/Division of Parks and Forestry. 50 Neilson Rd, Wantage.

Value Added

The historic Van Nest-Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead in Harmony will host this year’s Preservation Day.
This Sunday, May 21, the Fifth Annual Warren County Preservation Day brings together a schedule of activities and organizations at the historic Van Nest-Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead on Rt. 519 in Harmony Township. This year’s event will feature tours of the Farmstead, wildlife presentations, a medicinal plants hike, and musical performances. There will be food vendors, a summer kitchen demonstration, and historic reenactors. Dozens of exhibitors will provide information and answer all your questions about other historical sites, outdoor recreation, environmental issues, and other facets of Warren County’s vibrant heritage. For more information call (908) 453-2650 or download the brochure.

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!


Photo: Trish Romano.
New Jersey has more moms per square mile than any other state in America. And the New Jersey Skylands can supply the perfect place to remind your mom how much you care on Mother's Day (Sunday, May 14). How to find these places? 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 a Sunday drive! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go.

Hungry Moms

Travelers and epicures in the Skylands are never far away from one of New Jersey's finest dining and lodging experiences -- the cozy accommodations and artful cuisine of the Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, twelve miles east of the Delaware Water Gap. The Mother's Day Brunch is served from 11am-5pm on Sunday, May 14. For reservations, call 908/459-4884. 319 Hope Johnsonburg Rd. (Rt. 519), Hope.
Brunch will also be served on Sunday at Four Sisters Winery. Everything will be made fresh including blueberry pancakes, egg casseroles, deviled eggs, French toast, Frittata, bacon, sausage fresh fruit and homemade granola. There will also be live music and a wine bar. Tickets are required by calling 908-475-3671. 783 County Route 519 between Hope and Belvidere.

Thirsty Moms

The Brook Hollow Winery, in Knowlton Township, looks out over the vineyard, then beyond to the Delaware Water Gap.
A weekend-long (Saturday and Sunday, 12 - 6pm) Mother's Day Celebration at Brook Hollow Winery will include a a free glass of wine for mom (the first fifty mothers on Saturday will receive a free glass), live music and the usual extraordinary hospitality. 594 State Highway 94 in Columbia, 908/496-8200.

Say it with flowers

Don't bring your mom flowers, take her to them! This Saturday's Spring Open Greenhouse at Wild Ridge Plants in Pohatcong is the perfect opportunity to explore the diversity and beauty of native plants. For details and directions, please email rachel@wildridgeplants.com

Maternal Instinct

Can't figure out what she'd like? Take her shopping and let her decide. Go some place nice where you can spend the day!
Pottery at Made To Order.
Mom's love the wide selection of Pandora Jewelry, and most anything else you can find at Made To Order in Clinton. 908/735-4244.
Or take a trip to Gallery 23 in Blairstown where painters Leslie Miller and Katherine Yvinskas are featured this month among more than thirty additional selected local artists. 908/362-6865.
Wilbur's Country Store is a perfect destination on any ride through the country, but especially on Mothers Day! 735 Route 94 in Frelinghuysen, between Newton and Blairstown.

Designer Moms

Alnwick Hall - The Abbey, is the stage for this year's Mansion In May Designer Showcase
What mom wouldn't love the breathtaking designer showhouse known as The Mansion in May, that has delighted thousands of visitors over the years? This year's event is held at Alnwick Hall, a now-rare and largely unaltered survivor of “Millionaire’s Row” on Madison Avenue (Route 124) between Morristown and Madison. Take a virtual tour of the mansion, then check the website for tickets. Proceeds from this year's eighteenth showcase will be directed toward the creation of a Center for Nursing Innovation and Research at Morristown Medical Center.

Outdoor Moms

Drive up Route 23 North, and after passing countless big box stores, fast food chains and traffic lights, the landscape suddenly turns all green. And steep. This is wild West Milford, home to over 100 miles of marked hiking trails and more 1,000-foot summits than anyplace else in the Jersey Highlands. Bag some peaks with mom!

Plan Ahead!



Burgeoning Botany!

Pink peonies at the rustic entrance of the Van Wickle House Garden in Somerset. (Vivian Bedoya)
It doesn't last forever, so take advantage of a schedule budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Blooming Beauty!


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!

Restless Natives

Perennial garden and sundial at Well-Sweep
Native plants (those that lived here before the colonists arrived) make outstanding gardens because they are strong growers, ornamental, require less maintenance than many exotics, and are particularly attractive to birds and butterflies. Some are even rumored to be deer-resistant! You can learn about natives and how to use them this Saturday (May 6) at Well-Sweep Herb Farm's Woodland Gardening With Natives, informative presentations full of ideas about woodland and butterfly gardens, native wildflowers and ferns. The programs are free but reservations are required. Click or call 908/852-5390. Well-Sweep is located between Hackettstown and Washington at 205 Mt. Bethel Rd. in Port Murray.

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.

The Merry Month!

The month of May invokes a certain emotional and sensual liberty, summoning waves of Spring Fever and the happy feeling that this most stirring season still lies largely before us. Time to get out and smell whatever you can! And what better place to do your sniffing than New Jersey’s Great Northwest Skylands? Take advantage of a schedule budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Give Me Fever!

Mansion In May

Alnwick Hall - The Abbey, is the stage for this year's Mansion In May Designer Showcase
Since 1974, the Women's Association of Morristown Medical Center has transformed seventeen of the most elegant and historic estate homes and mansions in Morris and Somerset Counties into breathtaking designer showhouses that have delighted thousands of visitors over the years. This premier month-long event, known as The Mansion in May, has raised over ten million dollars in support of The Gagnon Heart Institute, Goryeb Children's Hospital, the Carol Simon Cancer Center, the Emergency Department, an Inpatient Hospice and Palliative Care Center and other departments at Morristown Medical Center. Proceeds from this year's eighteenth showcase will be directed toward the creation of a Center for Nursing Innovation and Research.
This year's eighteenth event is held at Alnwick Hall, a now-rare and largely unaltered survivor of “Millionaire’s Row”: Madison Avenue (Route 124) between Morristown and Madison. During the area’s Gilded Age, this stretch of road was lined by a nearly unbroken series of large and elegant estate houses. It was also called “the street of the 100 millionaires” and “the finest four miles in the world.” Check the website for more information and tickets.

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!

Feel the Earth!

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! Memorial Day Weekend awaits!
  • 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

Go Native!




Earth Day! April 22 was awarded that distinction in 1970, after a long campaign led by Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin Senator credited by some for making possible such legislation as the Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Think Mr. Nelson would stand any chance these days?
Scene on the Delaware River near Frenchtown, by artist John Crouse.
To celebrate the planet from whence you sprouted, take advantage of a schedule budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of day trips and tours or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

Trail Mix

The designation ceremony takes place at Blair Falls.
On Saturday, Blairstown will celebrate its recent designation as an official Appalachian Trail Community. A ceremony will be followed by a Street Fair with live music, food, walking tours and special trolley tours from the Blairstown Museum to Catfish Fire Tower and Millbrook Village, two notable points near the trail's route through New Jersey. Take this opportunity to explore Blairstown's wealth of earthly allure, as well as a fascinating history.

Close To You

Experience the fragrance of over 200 varieties of lilacs at New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands in Ringwood State Park. Photo by Maja Britton.

Northwestern New Jersey is blessed with gardens of living history where visitors can connect with our impressive botanical legacy; and every spring blooming plant that will grow in the region! Each has a special botanical story to tell. They each have maintained some original garden designs; and some plants, notably shrubs and trees, planted by the families who once lived there, remain. Among the historic gardens, a plethora of plants color and scent the landscape in spring.
A Spring Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration is planned for this weekend (April 22-23) at Leonard J. Buck Garden with garden lectures, and guided tours. 11 Layton Rd. in Far Hills
Or enjoy a weekend full of Earth Day activities at the New Jersey Botanical Garden; 20 Morris Rd., Ringwood 973/962-9534

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.


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.

Future Picks...



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...

Signs and Symptoms

photo: Bob Thompson
It is still an underground movement, but don't be fooled! Spring will be mainstream someday soon. If you can't feel it every day, you can smell it. The "fresh" liberating smell on a walk through the forest in early spring is, for a biologist, the odor of gases emitted by billions of tiny organisms in the newly thawed earth, releasing nutrients vital to the approaching bloom of wildflowers. And you can hear it up in the trees where things are getting noisy. So be sure you don't miss it. Our calendar is filled with events that invite exploration of this most magical of seasons. Start your spring now!

Reel Love

Faith Stephany landed this 7lb 6oz giant of a fish, her first trout ever, on her second cast into the Paulins Kill. She came into the Knot Just Flies tackle and bait shop, on the stream bank in Blairstown, with her boyfriend to buy her first fishing license an hour before.
Spring in the Skylands means falling in love… Reel Love; the enchantment of fishing! The water will be high and fast, but even the most severe conditions can not deny dedicated fishers their place streamside on Saturday morning (April 8), when hundreds-of-thousands of stocked trout become fair game (Opening Day, April 8). Others prefer the solitude of early spring fly fishing, often along a handful of tiny creeks designated as wild trout waters. But, even with a simple worm and bobber, fishing with your kids carries its own special rewards. Waiting for a trout to nibble on a night crawler has been, for ages, a primary bonding ritual between parent and child.

Besides the nimble rainbow, plenty brookies and browns still swim our big rivers like the Raritan South Branch and Big Flat Brook. They also inhabit large lakes and reservoirs like Lake Hopatcong and Round Valley, along with deep-running gigantic lake trout. Of course, the world of fresh water fishing in New Jersey goes way beyond the realm of trout. Check our general fishing guide and see how to find ‘em, catch ‘em and cook ‘em. Either way, if you don't have it yet, you'll need to get your license.

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...

Reporting for Duty

Lucy's calf is getting ready to join the herd at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse where they (the cows) live outside, eating grass and being milked seasonally, and not indoors, being fed grain, animal by-products and hormones, and being milked to death. Happy cows make delicious natural cheese, the artisanal cheeses that Bobolink is known for. Take a tour this weekend and you'll find fresh Irish Soda bread at the bakery this weekend, just in time for St. Patty's festivities! 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County) 08848, 908/86GRASS

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...


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...

My Summer Eduvacation

Peters Valley
The serene atmosphere at Peters Valley invigorates a diverse community of artists.
Does this weather have you dreaming of warm summer days? Start planning ways to make the best of them! How about a class at Peters Valley Crafts Center? One of only six craft schools of its type in the country, and unique to Northwest New Jersey, it has grown from a small artists' collective in the early 1970s to a nationally recognized center for craft education. Here's what happened one summer...

Fertile Ground

Happy community gardener.
Who can think of an argument for not having a garden? It’s not easy to do, but you still might have a good reason for not growing your own. Perhaps the deer have finally gotten the best of you. You might not have enough room in your yard, or maybe you have no yard at all. But even if any of these apply to your personal situation, most likely, in the best of all worlds, you’d like to have a garden in your backyard. Gardens are good!
If you're considering a backyard alternative, take a look at a community garden. For most, there are waiting lists, but there's always a chance you can find a spot if you start looking now! 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?

The Wiley One

“Coyote in Winter” by wildlife artist John Mullane.
An opportunist to its core, a coyote will eat almost anything, from rodents to road kill. In the fall it gobbles up grasshoppers. It consumes garbage and amphibians. It loves blueberries and raspberries, but above all it loves ample food, and people provide regular windfalls. Human development -­ with its accompanying refuse and disruption of habitat ­ makes surprisingly good coyote habitat. If, in a northern forest, a coyote might claim a territory as large as 62 square miles, a suburban coyote can thrive in a territory that measures a scant five square miles. That's adaptability!
Students and recent graduates from Warren County Technical School have designed and built drones suitable for a variety of uses, employing the latest and greatest on-board devices. The drone on the right is hefty enough to carry an Imax camera and will navigate through the ground pilot's gestures in a virtual field of vision.
Wouldn't it be great to fly like a bird through the Delaware Water Gap, high over the Sourlands, above the great expanse of Lake Hopatcong, along the Raritan at Clinton's Red Mill, or amidst a flotilla of hot-air balloons? Want to get creative with some aerial photography, but can't quite justify the expense a plane? An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, would be your choice. These days you can get one with a mouse click, equipped with a camera and all necessary software and ground controls out-of-the-box for a couple hundred bucks.
How about a job creating an above-ground survey for a real estate firm, or doing some crop dusting? Monitoring wildlife populations or photographing sports events? Or drop-shipping for Amazon and UPS? Thousands of new UAV jobs will flood the market over the next few years, especially in our dense New Jersey environs. And there's plenty of opportunity to be your own boss.
But parceling out airspace is tricky, and UAV pilots need to be especially knowledgeable in ever-more-crowded skies. Until the FAA recently began to integrate drone operators into the National Airspace System, commercial applications were encumbered by a maze of forms and permissions. Now you can take an online course to get certification, set yourself apart from all those hobbyists, and make it easy to hire yourself out ... for a few hundred more dollars.
Warren County aviator and adventure seeker of no bounds, Fred Grotenhuis, who passed away in early 2015, is memorialized with a scholarship in his name that covers the cost of studying for and passing the test for the newly required Airman Knowledge Test administered by the FAA for use in any type of commercial application. Any student may apply, but preference is given to the youth of Warren County.

Foggy Mountain Breakdowns

Although there may have been as many as ten plane crashes along the Kittatinny Ridge in Sussex and Warren Counties, few people are aware of them. Due to the very rugged nature of the area's mountainous terrain, some of the wreckages have never been completely salvaged, and pieces still lie there. For example, the scant remains of an old airframe, possibly from an early Army biplane trainer, rest close to the Appalachian Trail near the top of the mountain, overgrown with brush. Without modern instruments, the ridge could be treacherous for aviators. Read more!!


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 !

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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