Summer, 2022

Warm greetings and best wishes for a year marked by renewed health and sanity. Join us in our continued 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.

June 30 - July 6

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? The Fourth of July, as John Adams put it, "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." Heed our forefather! There's plenty of action to choose from.

Stars and Stripes

The 13-Star Betsy Ross flag at Middlebrook
In New Jersey we are fortunate to be able to celebrate our independence on hallowed ground, the Crossroads of the Revolution, where so many crucial moments in the war took place. Among the many Fourth of July festivities scheduled, the traditional patriotic exercises at the Middlebrook Encampment in Bridgewater will commence on Monday, July 4, 2022. For 118 consecutive years, the Declaration of Independence has been read on Independence Day at the twenty-acre park operated by the Washington Campground Association at 1761 Middlebrook Rd. in Bridgewater. The park commemorates the two major Continental Army encampments at Middlebrook, in spring of 1777, and winter of 1778-79. It is here that the first American flag was unfurled, and where a 13-Star Betsy Ross flag flies continuously by special act of Congress. The solemn Independence Day Ceremony there, well-attended by dignitaries, consists of a changing of the flag and the reading of the Declaration, followed by a keynote speaker and an historical address. Ceremonies begin at 10am.
Additional readings of the Declaration will take place during the Independence Day celebration at Shippen Manor Museum in Oxford on Sunday, July 3 and at Washington's Headquarters in Morristown on July 4.

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...

Tutelage at the Tiller

The Sunfish bucked and cavorted at the ramp, looking about as quiet as a rodeo horse and as sturdy as the balsa wood models my brother made as a boy. It occurred to me, not for the first time, that the boat was little more than a dinghy with a sail. Wind blew waves across the ramp. Cold crept in under the personal flotation device as vestiges of ancient sailing lessons crossed my brain. My first mistake: raising the sail at the launch ramp. The second: imagining I could do this alone. Hop aboard!

Camp Skylands!

At The Great Divide, you’ll enjoy meticulously maintained facilities, accommodating service, and fun, family-friendly activities. The campground is passionate about protecting the intrinsic beauty of it's surroundings, and is committed to preserving that for the enjoyment of all future guests. Choose from a variety of cozy "Kinda Camping" rentals, rustic cabins, RV sites and tent sites. There's a heated pool, fishing & boating lake, playground, recreation barn, weekend planned events and activities with a focus on live music for entertainment. Camp The Great Divide! 68 Phillips Road, Newton 07860, 973/383-4026.

Easy Living!

Strike Up The Band!

June hands off to July, and summer starts to roll. Firecrackers, fairs, picnics and independence! There's always a link to good old summer time. Pay attention, the days are already getting shorter!

Toby Walker does his acoustic blues magic at Ramsaysburg Summer Concerts this Saturday.
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 Hunterdon Symphony opens the 46th annual Music Under The Stars series, tonight (June 23). Presented by the Hunterdon County Park System, free concerts are held on subsequent Thursday evenings throughout the summer at Deer Path Park, in Flemington.

On alternate Thursdays and Saturdays at 8pm, Jazz on the Back Deck graces the Morris Museum in Morristown with swinging sounds from around the world. Tonight (June 23), bassist Martin Pizzarelli represents New Jersey’s  first family of jazz, as he returns after his sold-out show last year. 973/285-5115

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 24) the The Kootz will entertain.

The Ramsaysburg Summer Concert Series continues this Saturday (June 25, 3pm) with Toby Walker, an accomplished and award-winning blues player and historian. The venue is part of the Historic Ramsaysburg Homestead along the Delaware River on Route 46 at Ramseyburg Road in Knowlton Township. Gates open at 2, so come early to picnic and enjoy the beautiful riverside amphitheater at this historic park.

On Sunday evenings, bring lawn chairs and a picnic supper to Oxford for free Shippen Manor Lawn Concerts. This week, Moss Henry & Bryophytes, brings their brand of unrepentant Honky Tonk!

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.

Station to station

The Hunterdon section of the Columbia Trail includes occasional interpretive signs which relate the area's history.
Rail trails are a legacy of some of the many railroads that once thrived in northwestern New Jersey in an era when trains had names, each with its own character and personality. You don't need a whole lot of hiking know-how or aerobic virility to enjoy a rail trail. You can walk for miles without the struggle of an uphill climb or the danger of twisting an ankle on a protruding rock on the soft cinder dirt that makes up the surface of most rail trails.
While Hunterdon County'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!

Heavenly Hues

June brings on the deep pinks of Carolina rose at Jenny Jump.
As the wildflower season progesses, the tree canopy thickens, 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 early summer forest flowers.

Back Road Bounty

Summertime adventure is easy to find on a back country road.
Tucked away in the seemingly endless landscape of ridge, valley, and wooded hillside is an incredible bicycle-friendly network of quiet back roads linking together small towns and historic villages, re-purposed rail trails creating pastoral off-road adventures, and miles of single track trail tracing through the rocky upland forests. The weather's perfect for some vigorous exploration, so strap on a helmet and put some rubber on the road!

Seed to Stem

Lettuce can grow in planters and pots, in a window box, on a roof garden, terrace, “square foot garden,” herb garden, flower bed or raised bed. And it’s packed with nutrients (even Iceberg!) and practically devoid of calories. Roughly seventy true lettuce heirlooms and a mosaic of varieties, make this leafy annual of the aster family far from ordinary. It is great for you, delicious, accessible, easy to grow with varieties to harvest in every season in Skylands territory. There's plenty of time so start now!

Camp Skylands!

Make memories for a lifetime at Harmony Ridge Campground! Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest include over 200 sites on 160 acres, cabins, trailers, tent sites, camp store, laundry, hot showers and full range of on-site activities. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973/948-4941. Where the road ends, camping begins!

The Living is Easy!


 

Them Old Cosmic Hues!

Sunset On The Mountains (Allamuchy), photograph by Luisa Kazanfer from the 2020 Highlands Coalition Juried Art Exhibit.
The summer solstice is Tuesday, June 21, the day with more light than any other! The ineffable relationship between Sun, Earth and Moon, marking this planet from its beginnings, is the foundation of all human experiences of beauty and sacrifice, communion and community, which later emerged into our human consciousness and fulfillment. With the bewildering flow of current events, it could seem utterly naïve to hope that today’s adult decision makers could face the challenge of exploring a new cosmological perspective different than the familiar one of the past centuries. But that is exactly what evolutionary cosmologists like Brian Swimme, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking have proposed by entreating and encouraging us to change our own inadequate perceptions of the world around us.

At any rate, you'll need all that extra sunshine to enjoy all that Northwest New Jersey has to offer this and every day of the splendid season. Take advantage of a schedule full of intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website, or pick from a multitude of daytrip itineraries and hit the road!. Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands; summer starts now!

Wild and Scenic

This time of year is perfect for 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.
This week's Annual Delaware River Sojourn (June 17-25) is an exceptional way to explore any part or all of the wild and scenic river. An eight-day guided paddling excursion, combining canoeing/kayaking, camping, educational programs, historical interpretation, and more, the Sojourn is for novice to experienced paddlers or those who are simply curious about the outdoors. Almost anyone can come on the Sojourn: adults, families, kids, and grandparents. Travelers can sign up for the entire trip or for the section(s) or day(s) of their choice. There's still time to register!

Bright Green Music Machine


Don't miss the Music and Arts Festival on Saturday (June 18) in Washington Borough, a live music, original art, and crafts, celebration in conjunction with the Washington Borough Farmers Market kick off. Dance the day away while you explore upcycled and recycled goods vendors, gardening and outdoor groups, environmental preservation exhibitors and related non-profit organizations and vendors. 10am - 5pm. Downtown borough. Washington Business Improvement District, 908/689-4800.

Camp Skylands!

Located in Sussex County near the Kittatinny Mountains, Kymer Camping Resort offers park model, cabin and luxury tent rentals as well as trailer or tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on two-hundred scenic acres at 69 Kymer Road in Branchville. And if you think camping is only for those who own camping equipment, think again. Kymer's offers exciting rental options for those families that want to enjoy the camping experience without having to purchase their own camping equipment. Trailer or cabin rentals are also available. And each weekend, there's something special going on. Create some memories in the great outdoors!

Father's Day Extravaganzas


Emergence in summer gardens.
You never know what form things will take down the road, so take advantage now 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.

They know the drill

Bailey's Boys will be remembered at Shippen Manor.
The 27th Regiment of NJ Volunteer Infantry Company F commemorates Bailey's Boys, the Civil War regiment under the command of Captain Daniel Bailey, a Glenwood (Sussex County) resident . This Sunday, June 12, the 27th NJ Regiment will visit Shippen Manor Museum (11am-4pm) to share in the experience of the men (and women) of this unit during the Civil War. Soldiers and officers will have tents and offices set up and the regiment’s surgeon will be on site. Firing demonstrations will be announced and younger visitors are encouraged to participate in the “wooden rifle picket”. Kids can learn about “Ciphers and the Civil War” from 12-2pm. Costumed docents will also guide tours of the c. 1754 ironmaster's mansion, adjacent to c. 1741 Oxford Furnace. Both sites are on the National Register. Donations are encouraged. 8 Belvidere Ave., Oxford. For more information click or call 908/453-4381.

Locked in

On Saturday (June 11), Warren County ParkFest will include an ambitious array of activity: a full line up of music all day long, author’s alley, local history displays, art show, food vendors and more. The festival location is Bread Lock Park along Warren County's Morris Canal Greenway, named from the days when the lock tender's wife baked and sold fresh bread to the passing canal boats, giving Lock No. 7 West its nickname. 2627 Rt. 57 in Stewartsville, 908/475-6539

Power Plants

For those in the know (and it's important that you know before you pick) the forests and fields of Northwest Jersey offer a visitor much more than a walk in the park. They are a veritable garden; Nature's garden of edible and medicinal plants. From the lowliest ground creeper to towering trees, each plant has some nutritional, chemical, edible properties, for better or worse. Much more...

Big Ponds, Big Fish

Walleye pike
Pound for pound, the hybrid striped bass rates right up there with the best of the fresh water fish when it comes to putting up a good fight once hooked. Pound for pound, the walleye is hard to beat for table fare, with some fishermen calling it the best tasting fish of them all. Fortunately for those anglers in this part of the state who like some muscle on the end of their line and tasty fillets on the table, there are plenty of both fish around due to vigorous and well-planned stocking programs. These fish are there ... but you're going to have to work for them.

Camp Skylands!

View of Delaware Water Gap from atop Mt. Tammany - direct trail access from Camp Taylor Campground.
For more than fifty years, campers have been drawn to the Genuine Outdoor Experience at Camp Taylor Campground. Located on 350 acres adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, this family-owned and operated campground offers direct access to the state's most majestic and pristine terrain. That's not to say that Camp Taylor is for rugged wilderness tenters only; there are deluxe cabins, fully outfitted RVs, and "glamping" tent rentals as well. An extra, added bonus: Lakota Wolf Preserve makes its home at Camp Taylor! 85 Mt. Pleasant Road, Columbia, 908/496-4333.

Dig Deeper!


Here comes the sun, so 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. Salute the coming summer!

Canal Day at Waterloo

The Morris Canal at Waterloo.
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.
During this Saturday's (June 4) Canal Day at Waterloo Village in Byram Township, the Canal Society of New Jersey will offer tours of the restored canal town, along with a wide range of programming including a narrated canal boat ride, Canal Museum, an expanded recovered Canal Boat exhibit, blacksmithing and historic trades demonstrations, and period music. For more information click or call 973-292-2755.

Easy Pickins

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!

Watershed Moments

The Paulina Dam, an early hydro-electric structure built circa 1896, is one of the last dams on the Paulins Kill. After the recent removal of the Columbia Lake Dam nine miles downstream, the river now flows freely to its outlet at the Delaware. Photo: Mary Jasch
Geologic record helps understand the human history and impacts of settlement and lifestyles in each of our watersheds, which take on regional characteristics of their own, connecting communities by a shared vital resource. The intrinsic appeal of their landscapes is enhanced by a heaping portion of openly accessible recreation facilities, either publicly owned or privately managed with the visitor in mind.
The Paulins Kill is New Jersey’s third-largest tributary of the Delaware River, and its watershed covers a total area of 177 square miles. The river flows north from its source near Newton in Sussex County, and then turns southwest toward the Warren County townships of Frelinghuysen, Hardwick, Blairstown, and Knowlton. Follow the river!

Packed to the Rafters

Learn something everyday, even if it's about roof-lines! How about this Dutch Gambrel? Ain't she a beauty?
Early Dutch settlers wandered through the Raritan Valley in the mid 1700s and put down roots in what is now Readington Township in Hunterdon County. One of those old farmsteads later became a summer retreat for a famous actress and her acclaimed playwright husband. Today the Bouman-Stickney Farmstead and surrounding sixty-acre park, which is always accessible for walks or peaceful respite, is worth noting for a late spring destination. More...

Step Lightly!

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...

Skylands Prime


Memorial Day

General Robert McAllister’s grave at Belvidere Cemetery
58,000 New Jersey men served in the Civil War. With reenlistments, the state would eventually receive credit for more than 80,000 terms of service. The legacies of General Robert McAllister, Charles Hopkins, Daniel Bailey, Henry Ryerson and other heroic figures from the Civil War are told by monuments, museums, and living history groups. Seek out their stories of triumph and tragedy.

This Memorial Day Weekend, take advantage of a calendar bursting with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

Mistical experience

A heron in the Great Swamp mist. Photo: Melinda Nye
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. Friends of Great Swamp was established in 1999 to provide assistance and support to Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge through volunteer efforts and the funding of programs and projects to benefit wildlife and refuge visitors. 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 in Harding Township.

Slip Sliding Away

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...

Skylands Prime




Alive and Well!

Bob Thompson
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!

 


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.

Campgrounds are open!

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
  • 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, 973-875-3167
  • The Great Divide Campground
    Private, family friendly campground with amenities for tents, RVs and seasonal guests. Fully furnished cabin rentals available. Heated pool, fishing & boating lake, playground, planned events and activities. 68 Phillips Road, Newton, 973/383-4026

Planet Jersey

You don't need a team of horses, or even a mule, to turn your yard into an agricultural paradise and wildlife observatory. Here are few ideas... (Photo: Dan Bacon)
Memorial Day is around the corner, as May approaches its verdant peak. 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!
When you're done planting, 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 can choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

For the birds

Photo by Dave Zolla
Who has not been enchanted by the mysterious hummingbird? With wings that beat too-fast-to-see, it seems to stand still in midair. If you can get closer you can hear the buzz of drone-like precision, sparkling like a gem in the sun encased by flashes of green, red and gold. Then it suddenly darts like a tiny spaceship to another zone where it may hover again for your inspection—or not. Close encounters of the hummingbird kind don’t have to be rare occasions. You can turn your backyard into a hummingbird paradise, a place where these beautiful creatures will become regular visitors. Don’t let them pass you by!




MommaMania!

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 8). 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.

Say it with flowers!

The displays in the Annual Garden change not only through the seasons, but also from year to year at New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands in Ringwood State Park.
You can bring your mom flowers, or take her to them! Northwestern New Jersey is blessed with extraordinary public gardens where visitors can experience every spring-blooming plant that will grow in the region. Friday May 6 is National Public Gardens Day! Or take her wildflower hunting. It's the Greatest Show In Earth!

Walking Moms

The Hunterdon section of the Columbia Trail includes occasional interpretive signs which relate the area's history.
Take Mom 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!

Wet and Wild

Boat launch near the spillway dam at Echo Lake
Take Mom on a trip through the Newfoundland and West Milford, which 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!

New place in town

Community Blend is a relaxed café where you can find physical and spiritual refreshment. Work remotely, read or simply gather with friends. They offer Wi-Fi, reading material, great coffee, tea, and light fare. Drop in this Saturday, May 7 for their Grand Opening and see what its all about! 3 - 6pm, 384 Route 57 West, Washington. 908/758-5787




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.

North of the tension line

Photo by Dan Balogh
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!

Spring in your step

Merriam Casa Bella at 131 North Main Street in Newston sits high on a slate ridge. The yellow and white mansion was built by Henry Merriam in 1883, a gorgeous, asymmetrical building that exhibits classic elements of Queen Anne architecture: elaborate porches with carved spindles, asymmetrical building, decorative turrets, projecting bays, dormer windows, fish scales, decorative panels in gables and a vibrant color.
A mix of historic buildings of varying architectural styles, a walkable downtown, and plentiful eateries surrounded by rural tranquility make Newton a fusion of the then and the now, with great expectations for the to be. Investigate!



Lines Written In Early Spring

White Lake. Photo by Jacob Bryant.
The depths to which we must reach to bring about the restoration and regeneration of our planet are daunting. Political change must occur at national levels, but we must also work to regenerate and restore one watershed at a time.
Perhaps if more of us spent time along the bank of a stream or in a field of wildflowers there would be less strife in the world. If only we could appreciate those simple gifts found just outside our door, we might be more willing to set aside our prejudices, less inclined to dredge up old grievances, make war. Judging from the lines of a poem penned by the great English romantic poet, William Wordsworth, he might have agreed with this sentiment.

Watershed Moments

Pohatcong Creek drifts through the lower valley.
Geologic record helps understand the human history and impacts of settlement and lifestyles in each of our watersheds, which take on regional characteristics of their own, connecting communities by a shared vital resource. The intrinsic appeal of their landscapes is enhanced by a heaping portion of openly accessible recreation facilities, either publicly owned or privately managed with the visitor in mind.
Following Pohatcong Mountain, another of the many Appalachian ridges that run through Warren County, the Pohatcong Watershed lies parallel and between those of the Musconetcong River to the south and the Pequest to the north. Follow the river!

If you plant it, will they come?

Caterpillar of the black swallowtail, the state butterfly of New Jersey.
Insects are critical components of any natural area. Gardeners have become increasingly aware that, if we want wildlife in our gardens, we must support all life stages, year ‘round. With the fragmented state of our natural areas, wildlife relies on our gardens, yards, fields, hedgerows, and woodlots to survive. When using native plants in a landscape, we are attempting to recreate functioning ecosystems to support the wonderful wildlife that, in fact, needs us to survive. Learn more!

Let Me Tell You How It Will Be!

You’re ready to submit your tax return to the government and clear your desk of all pending matters. Do not let Spring depreciate further; time to dig yourself back into Mother Earth! And what finer place to dig than the New Jersey’s Great Northwest Skylands? Take advantage of a calendar budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or use the Outdoor Directory for links to all sorts of hikes and outdoor fun!

Happy Returns

The return of spring means that the cows at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, after a winter of eating hay, turn out to pasture to fill their bellies with beautiful green grass. Join them this Friday, April 15 in the joyful ritual and the opportunity to help feed Ukrainian refugees.Bobolink is located at 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.

Schedule See

Don’t miss an enchanting walk through the Wildflower Garden this spring. Photo by Mary Jasch
In the Ramapo Mountains of Ringwood lies one of New Jersey’s most exquisite gems, the New Jersey State Botanical Garden (NJGB). Its ninety-six cultivated acres are a secret to many — for others, a joyous discovery waiting to happen. The garden is a place of peace, inspiration, education and wonder. Indulge yourself and visit NJBG during any of a series of scheduled walks and events or take a look around on your own.

Hidden Assets

This spring, head for the woods on a special type of hunt. You won't find explicit directions, but if you log any appreciable trail time in the spring, you'll eventually come across a vernal pool. These distinctive wetlands are seasonal surprises, maybe something that you've never noticed before. The pools play hide and seek with woods walkers and the critters that inhabit them.

Capital Gains

White Township farmer Albert Smith in 1972, photographed by Richard Harpster.
Farms have always been integral to the fabric of Warren County, but farmers have had to adapt to changing economic and community demands. The survivors have diversified their product, and many have ventured into agritourism in order to provide for their families.

Household Income

Up close and personal
A house concert is different than other music venues. Put simply, it’s a private party—a small gathering of music lovers who sit up close and personal in front of the artist. The hosts invite musicians and friends (and friends of friends) to perform in their home living room or on the deck, working work hard only to make sure a concert benefits the musicians. House concerts are an amazing way to see live music and there are probably more around than you'd think and more musicians than you think that would do it!

Get Out and Garden!






Out of Nowhere

Here they come, get ready! Keep our calendar close. It's bursting with events that invite exploration of this most magical of seasons.

Creek Madness

The Paulins Kill, Flatbrook and the wild trout streams of Northwest New Jersey are ripe!
For many, the first day of fishing season is also Opening Day of Spring. Early April water is cold, high, and fast, but even the most severe conditions cannot deny dedicated fishers their place streamside early Saturday morning (April 9), when a fresh and feisty generation of stocked rainbow trout become fair game. A half-million of them or so, each born and bred at the Pequest Trout Hatchery which lies on a 5,000-acre state Wildlife Management Area between Route 46 and Pequest Road in Oxford.
This spring, explore the Paulins Kill, Flatbrook or the wild trout streams of Northwest New Jersey, on a Guided Fly Fishing Excursion with the Last Frontier Angler, who has provided clients with personalized fly fishing experiences for more than then years. Beginner to expert, instruction is also available. Click, call or text 908-878-6289.

Watershed Moments

The long view west to the Delaware Valley from Ragged Ridge.
Geologic record helps understand the human history and impacts of settlement and lifestyles in each of our watersheds, which take on regional characteristics of their own, connecting communities by a shared vital resource. The intrinsic appeal of their landscapes is enhanced by a heaping portion of openly accessible recreation facilities, either publicly owned or privately managed with the visitor in mind.
Lopatcong Creek pours down the Scotts Mountain Ridge in Harmony Township towards its appointment with the Delaware River twelve miles southwest at Phillipsburg. Hikers can explore the upper reaches of the Lopatcong along portions of the Warren Highlands Trail, crossing farms and rugged forest through the peaks and valleys of the watershed, including a spectacular viewpoint at Ragged Ridge. The Lopatcong watershed hosts the remnants of locks and planes at the western terminus of the Morris Canal, which are preserved and documented by the ever-expanding Morris Canal Greenway project. Follow the river!

Waterfall Hunting

Buttermilk Falls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is bursting at the seams!
There are waterfalls scattered throughout the Skylands region, but nowhere so plentiful than in the Kittatinny Mountains, where streams find their way down steep slopes to the Delaware River. Within the Kittatinny range, which parallels a forty-mile stretch of the river in Warren and Sussex Counties,several waterfalls are only a short walk away from parking areas. Now's the time!

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...

Action Items!




Karamac Candy

You’re likely to be watched as you saunter down this old railbed.
A former railbed just north of the Delaware Water Gap provides a short but satisfying taste of days past in a beautiful setting. This short route is also perfect for those who are not inclined to hike longer, more difficult trails. A perfect spring warm up!

Grass to the Glass

With reforms in food policy we can reverse current trends that endanger the viability of small local dairy farming.
Many states have adopted regulations to allow consumer access to carefully produced fresh, unprocessed whole milk. New Jersey is the only state with a complete prohibition against distribution of “raw” milk, according to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Here's why choices matter...

Plan Ahead!



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...

Bare Truth

Robert Lobe conceptualizes a sculpture in his "forest studio".
It won't be long until leaves are in full bloom. Hit the woods while the trees are bare and there's still time to look around -- you'll see things you might miss otherwise. For an artist walking in the woods along the Kittatinny Ridge, the earth gushes a torrent of shapes and forms, angles and curves, textures and light, all vibrantly alive, yet frozen in a rhythm of life far different than our own. Read more about Robert Lobe's sculpture from remote forest models at Harmony Ridge...

Plan Ahead!



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!

Like a Finch's Feather

In the summer of 2011, Bob Romano submitted an essay, one of nearly fifty that we have published in the Skylands Visitor since 2005 for his regular column, Against The Current. He wrote about a thousand words describing his writer’s method, “all those hours set apart from friends and family, observing rather than participating, shut up in your room while the sun is shining and the trout are rising, your spouse calling, the children growing like weeds in an untended garden.”
If you've enjoyed Bob's work, you'll love his new book, River Flowers, especially this time of year. Its a collection of stories about wild fish, the places they’re found, and the men and women who seek them out. Contact him directly at magalloway@mac.com to purchase an autographed copy! You can go to his website for more information about his writing.
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