Autumn, 2018

Warm greetings and best wishes for an exciting season! This is our twenty-eighth 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.

November 8 - 15

November Song

Fading at the Water Gap.
Some days unfold slowly, but listen carefully to catch their rhythm, and you may enjoy the tune. Don't stop now; bundle up and enjoy!

Honor Bound

Branchburg Veterans Memorial
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, all with art depicting each conflict, surround a small court and a central monument honoring the men and women of Branchburg who proudly served.
In Flemington there is a marker that you can't see from the road in memory of 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 life-sized rendition of a World War I Doughboy stands in Middle Valley along County Route 513, a young soldier who died in the first days of the Argonne offensive. With his flat helmet, puttees and gas mask, how many drive by and wonder what he represents?
And a statue commemorating World War II hero John Basilone, sculpted by a boyhood friend and installed in 1948, stands larger than life -- like the man -- on a little triangular intersection on Somerset Street in the Borough of Raritan. 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. Remember them this Sunday on Veterans Day. More...

Southern Exposure

Part of the former the Kuser Estate on top of Bald Pate Mountain.
Just a few miles south of Lambertville lies an area ripe for weekend adventure and exploration. At Bald Pate Mountain, components of local, national, and natural history are well represented, as well as brilliant prospects for craft seekers, hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and picnickers. To get there, head south from Lambertville on Route 29, enjoying glimpses of the Delaware & Raritan Canal feeder and the Delaware River along the way.

Rock Legends

Bevans Rock House is a large rockshelter formed by a huge overhanging rock slab and was probably used by Indians for many years.
New Jersey’s Skylands offer beauty, awe, history, and mystery to any weekend traveler discovering the region’s mountains, lakes, fields, forests—and rocks!! Nearly everywhere you look there are rocks; big ones, little ones, sometimes fields of them resembling a Golem’s garden. But amidst this lithic profusion curious explorers cannot help but wonder why certain rocks and boulders have drawn enough attention in days gone by to have been given names of their own. Where are these special boulders anyhow, and what are their stories? More...

Rock and Roll Highway

This view from the lookout above Route 80 (eastbound, mile 20), eighteen miles west to the forested wall of Kittatinny Mountain could be compared to the Shenandoah Valley. It actually is part of the same valley that runs from Canada to Alabama -- the Great Valley of the Appalachians.
Photo by Robert Thompson.
Interstate Route 80, aka the Christopher Columbus Highway, can be a scenic tour through an ancient glacial lake, across a glacial moraine, over the New Jersey Highlands into the vast Valley and Ridge province. Enjoy your next ride with a new perspective! Drive on...

Skylands Prime!

The Rosemary Inn on 17 pastoral acres near the Delaware Water Gap.

For a late-season or holiday getaway, The RoseMary Inn speaks hospitality and comfort loudly and clearly. Overlooking a picture-postcard pond, surrounded by seventeen pastoral acres, the inn is furnished with period antiques. There are five distinctive guestrooms for your lodging accommodations — four on the building’s upper level and one wheelchair accessible room on the ground level—all with separate heat/ac controls, Wi-Fi, sound board for privacy, etc.
Nature trails wind throughout the property inviting you to view abundant wildlife and birds. For more avid hikers, the Inn, situated at the edge of the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area, offers quick access, not only to the spectacular network of hiking trails in the Gap, but also to the Appalachian Trail, which runs along the top of the Kittatinny Ridge, and the Paulinskill Valley Trail, a former railbed perfect for long bike rides. The inn also shares their Columbia address with the beloved Lakota Wolf Preserve, the Brook Hollow Winery, an abundance of farms, and several fine restaurants, including Ellia's Food and Drink.
A complimentary traditional-style European breakfast lures guests to the table every morning with a multiple-course menu that varies with the seasons. 88 Hainesburg River Road in Columbia. Call 908-496-8855 or click!


Calendar Makers!

  

Book Your Holiday Party!

   

Going, going...

Furnace Lake in Oxford offers beautiful late fall color and the chance to hook into a monster channel catfish, muskellunge or tiger muskies.
Gone? This weekend they turn the clocks back and shorten the days up real quick. Daylight Craving Time! But this year's fall colors are lagging so there are a few glory days left, and still plenty of fun listed on our calendar.

Flight Patterns

A visit to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA, during the fall raptor migration of 1964, inspired Len and Diane Soucy's special interest in birds of prey, and led to their life's work at The Raptor Trust in Millington. Although watching birds of prey doesn't have to define your life, you may find yourself with a bit of raptor fever after a taste of the annual fall migration. A raptor is a bird of prey—a general descriptor that includes eagles, hawks, falcons, and vultures. Some species, like the northern goshawk, golden eagle, and red-tailed hawk actually increase in numbers in November, but each species has its own window of time. You can start with this primer for watching these magnificent and magical birds. Or spend an afternoon at The Raptor Trust. Then head for Merrill Creek Reservoir, Raccoon Ridge, Wildcat Ridge or several other prime spots in the region.

Denville Detour

Even today, if you needed a natural hideout—a really good one—Jonathan’s Woods could work. This six hundred plus acre pocket of undeveloped property, speckled with high and low ferns and Indian paintbrush, crossed by slender streams and marked by sharply rising rocky outcroppings, lies not far from one of Morris County’s busiest highways: Interstate Route 80. And yet the tract offers unexpected isolation. You could, as they say, get lost here!

Both Sides Now

Follow the narrow, twisting back roads along both shores of the Delaware River -- from Phillipsburg south to Milford in New Jersey, and Upper Black Eddy back north to Easton in Pennsylvania -- through countryside rich in local history and lore, old hamlets of which little trace remains, past quaint homes and natural wonders along the way.

The Tewksbury Register

Mountainville ahead!
Hunterdon County is home to over forty historic districts on the National Register. Some of those, in Tewksbury Township, are located in some of the most beautiful and serene countryside in New Jersey. With a little historic perspective, your trip through these antique villages will become an excursion of discovery. An afternoon driving or biking along this route is time well-spent; one that you'll likely tell your friends about. Luscious color remains!

Skylands Prime!

Lamington Lifestyles (formerly Lamington General Store)is located in a restored 1890s general store.
Enjoy refreshments and good cheer at this weekend's Holiday Open House at Lamington Lifestyles, the perfect opportunity to combine an autumn excursion with some serious groundwork on your holiday gift list. A Bedminster destination for 32 years, the shop offers two floors brimming with home decor, unique gifts, women's apparel, baby gifts, jewelry and artwork, and custom furniture. (The store specialty is custom farm tables.) Is there a better place to spice up a late autumn afternoon? 285 Lamington Rd., Bedminster (just outside of Oldwick Village), 908/439-2034.

Restaurants Worth The Trip!

   
   

Autumn in the boundary waters

The Division of Fish and Wildlife stocks only larger two-year old trout in the fall.
As summer cools to an autumn brisk, fish regain their ambition. In the Delaware River, big bass come into season, fattening up and settling down for winter. The big fish, cool water, great weather and spectacular scenery combined to make the fall season what many consider to be New Jersey’s premium fishing season. Besides a little luck, fishing requires skill, knowledge, and the right equipment. Knot Just Flies can help you with all but the luck part, and they specialize in introducing women and children to the traditional field sports. You can even book a half or full day guided trip! 61 State Route 94 in Blairstown, 908/362-FISH.

In the Loop

Signs of the workings at Ford Mine remain around this pond in Jefferson, which, at the surface of a former shaft, reaches depths of several hundred feet.
Present or past, time in Jefferson Township is easy to enjoy. The northwest corner of Morris County includes Lake Hopatcong, as well as numerous smaller lakes and ponds throughout, many a product of the Rockaway River which rolls south out of Sussex County through the Berkshire Valley on the township's east side. You can get a feel for Jefferson and have a nice afternoon adventure on a loop more or less around Bowling Green Mt., starting in and up the Berkshire Valley to Petersburg, over the mountain through Milton and Jefferson (town), and back through the Weldon Brook Valley along Weldon Road towards Lake Hopatcong. Drive it!

Rock Steady

The area now called Hewitt was once the Long Pond Ironworks, where men took iron ore from the Ramapo hills, burned and extracted it into pig iron and forged it into wrought. Farms and schools and whole support systems sprung up around the ironworks village to maintain this rugged venture. Standing at the crossroads of this ghost town, you can sense the men and women who helped set the wheels of America in motion at the dawn of the nation's birth and the Industrial Revolution. Stop and feel the energy. The Ironworks is a beautiful place to visit, a serene one- hundred-year-old forest now replenished, breathing the enterprise of our past.

Fields of Fun!

      


Living in Color!

Enjoy an autumn weekend at Mohican Outdoor Center in Blairstown.
Chilly days and barren limbs are not far ahead, so get out your camera and hit the road, lined with good things to do and colorful panoramas for leaf peepers. Check our calendar for local tricks and treats.

Big Skylands Country

Merrill Creek Reservoir
Warren County's Scott's Mountain, so named since at least 1885, is known locally as Montana Mountain, named for the small hamlet that sits on its scenic plateau. Nearby Merrill Creek Reservoir, with its vast open waters and network of wooded trails, is deserving of any excursion up the mountain. The trip back down into and through the Pohatcong Valley is equally rewarding for students of history and devotees of the outdoors.

Trickle Down

Spruce Run Creek is a sparkling ribbon of natural beauty whose course through rich agricultural land interspersed with hardwood and evergreen forests still embodies the area's early history and provides sanctuary for many species of wildlife. The spring rises along the ridge of Schooley's Mountain, ten miles northeast of the reservoir near the boundary of Washington Township, in Morris County, and Lebanon Township, in Hunterdon County.

Botanical Spell

A peaceful scene at the Bamboo Brook Education Center.
Even as they retreat, gardens seem to procure new life in the fall. Plan to spend a day on an easy walk along Patriot's Path--garden to garden--from Kay Environmental Center to Bamboo Brook to Willowwood Arboretum. Get to know the richness and pleasures of their natural and cultivated diversity.

King Harvest

Not so long ago, every family had a root cellar, and canning of all the excess bounty, whether from the home garden or the farm stand, was standard practice. With the advent of the home refrigerator in the 1900s, freezing produce at the peak of just-picked freshness became a simple chore, and cooks filled their freezers with these delectable delights for use all winter long. It's not too late to take advantage of the fall harvest, and "put up" some food for healthy, nutritious eating during the long winter months. Canned sunshine!

Get Lost!

The annual fall foliage bloom is dependent primarily on moisture and the first frost, but peak leaf viewing in Northwest New Jersey normally occurs somewhere around the middle of October. (Now!) So, do yourself a favor and leave it all behind for a couple of hours on the road, lined with good things to do and colorful panoramas for leaf peepers.
Generally, the color works its way down, north to south, so head to Sussex County and the higher elevations near the Delaware Water Gap. You won't want to miss some of the prettiest vistas on the East Coast throughout this wild and scenic countryside.
And, on the north side of Branchville is a 15,482-acre playground known as Stokes State Forest. It's mountains of gorgeous woods and clean water, and it's mountains of fall fun.
There is much more listed on our calendar for this and coming autumn weekends.

Harvest Kings

The restored Nesbitt's Mill in Mendham is open for public visitation.
By the time the mill at Ralston squeezed its first drop of cider, the brandy industry in New Jersey was more than 130 years old, having begun in Morris County in 1773. Of all the cider mills in New Jersey, Nesbitt's is the only survivor. This Saturday (Oct. 13) is Annual Pressing Day at the mill.

The Hunt For Orange October!

Van Campen Inn on Old Mine Road in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
A casual stop at the Isaac Van Campen House (or Van Campen Inn) blossoms effortlessly into a full day of exploration and discovery. The Inn is among the most prominent "official” destinations along the Old Mine Road, but it is not at all apparent how many features actually wait here for discovery.

Find A Way!

The thrill of discovery is available this Columbus Day weekend, with eye-popping events all over the region. Foliage season is on hold at the moment, but a colorful future lies ahead! Check our calendar and take your choice! No better time than this weekend to pay your road dues, stuffed with good things to do.

Harvest Kings

Loaves and baguettes at the Bobolink Bakehouse include (counterclockwise from right): Garlic duckfat ciabatta, local baguettes, cranberry walnut breadstick, rosemary epi, heirloom Fife, medieval baguette, Flax Armadillo loaf, rustic olloaf, Petit levain, cranberry walnut loaf.
Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, where they produce grass-fed beef and make artisanal cheeses is also the place where Nina Stein White and her staff have produced millions of healthy and delicious breads! There is now a proliferation of literature telling us to avoid wheat altogether, but the great news is that the nutritious and varying flours can be baked into nutritious and varying breads, season by season, loaf by loaf. It just requires that food makers relinquish their expectation that flour be exactly the same from harvest to harvest. See how its done here, and look forward to an informative trip to 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.

The Hunt For Orange October!

Looking for fall color? Start at the top, and find your thrill walking the Monument Trail in High Point State Park. The path along the forested mountain top at the top of New Jersey at 1,800 feet offers palettes of color and texture that only the shallow-soil ridges of High Point can. Golden vistas of New York, Pennsylvania and Sussex County await the woodland explorer seeking gorgeous views and an enchanting walk.

OctoberFest!

Events all month long in Northwest New Jersey’s Skylands add up to one giant celebration of autumn. Arts, harvests, history – pretty much everything that needs expressing is expressed this month, beginning in a big way this weekend with a couple Octoberfests in September! You'll find more about these events and much more on our calendar for this and coming weekends.

Back Home on the Range

It’s not an everyday occurrence to meet people who live their lives with empathy and respect for all living creatures. It is good fortune and heart-warming to meet them, and the experience can instill hope and the desire to reach out to those less fortunate, human or critter. For some, the rescue of horses is a passion.

Pequest Pilgrims

Bucolic pasture along Long Bridge Road.
Immerse yourself in autumn beauty, the region's heritage, and a spectrum of natural features along this forty-mile loop that parallels the Pequest River through its upper reaches. Some of the things to look for: Swamp islands, black dirt, a Quaker burial ground, Logg Gaol, the Lackawanna Cutoff, Muckshaw Ponds, Moody's Rock, Yellow Frame, Dark Moon Cemetery, an octagonal house, Devil's Kitchen cave, the White Pilgrim, Jenny Jump, Ghost Lake, and Shades of Death. You'll need a designated driver to see all this stuff!

Hikes, Bikes, and Tykes

Deer Park Pond sits atop Allamuchy Mountain.
Together, Allamuchy Mountain and Stephens State Parks include 9,600 acres in Morris, Sussex and Warren counties. Allamuchy Mountain State Park lies mainly on the uplands, rising to over 1,100 feet, while Stephens lies in the valley below, along the Musconetcong River. Despite being bisected by Interstate Route 80, there is plenty of space to find your own special spot in this picturesque and diverse landscape. Or immerse yourself in any of the fascinating historical aspects of the park that range from pre-historic to the industrial eras. More than 36 miles of old roads and trails connect these sites, weaving a tapestry of natural features that beckon any lover of the outdoors. More...

Place of the Arrow Wood

The Ford House (1857), on the site of the original family homestead dating from 1715 in Hanover Township, was built using multi-story concrete wall construction.
Though transportation, past and present, provides the most striking visual identifiers of southeast Morris County's Hanover Township, the character of the place is rooted in the course of the meandering Whippany River. The water power the river gave rise to mills for agriculture in the 18th Century, and in time, the structures associated with the industrial revolution of the 19th Century.

Explore the Wonders!

Keep Warren County front and center on your radar for exploration this fall. Have a glass of fresh apple cider, or sample the work of a local winery. Drive down a country road and drink in the scenery, or take a hike to enjoy the fall foliage. Shop for antiques or country crafts. For a complete list of pick-your-own farms and other fall fun, click or call 1-800-554-8540.

eQuality!

Known to generations of local school kids as the Rock House, the Parsippany Rock Shelter is a collection of titanic glacial boulders that tumbled to form a rudimentary shelter.
As the sun heads south across the equator, Northwest New Jersey will prove itself a popular stage for arts, crafts, natural and historical celebrations all season, as autumn arrives on Monday (Sept. 23) with a schedule of colorful programs. Soft and mellow autumn days can be intoxicating. For now, at the equinox, day = night, but the balance begins to tip! So make sure to keep an eye on our calendar for this and coming autumn weekends. And pick from a multitude of daytrip itineraries!

Through the Farny Highlands

Split Rock from a kayak is a beautiful sight in autumn. Photo by Lee Sandstead.
A trio of Morris County reservoirs, each less than ten miles from the next, dot opposing sides of a triangle that frames sharply contrasting environments. Split Rock sits in one of Morris County’s most remote regions; Taylortown in Montville’s preserved mountains and woodlands, steps away from suburbia and Boonton near the busy intersection of Routes 287 and 80. An autumn visit to each or all promises ample leaf peeping vistas, woodland or urban hikes with water views and flashes of Revolutionary and Civil War history. Put this trip on your list this fall!

Wings and a prayer

MacKenzie Hall releases a young male Big Brown Bat on his maiden flight.
Photo by Bob Thompson.
Bats are a fascinating group of animals. They've been flapping through the skies for more than fifty million years and are still the only mammals on Earth that can truly fly. But they are largely misunderstood, and have had very hard times of late. In a big way, the White-nose plague swung the door wide open to understanding and appreciating bats. Even grade school kids now know that bats are important insect-eaters. And bats save crops from corn earworm moths, potato beetles, cucumber beetles, even stink bugs, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. Those are rather good reasons to want bats around. Read more!

Rooms With A View!

Camping doesn't have to end with the summer. In fact campgrounds make a perfect home base for most outdoor fall activities such as leaf peeping, bird and wildlife watching, hunting and fishing, simply because they've got "location, location, location."
  • 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
  • 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

Plan Ahead!

       

Pick Your Own!

      


Don't Miss A Thing!

No doubt, fall is the most precious season. It looks good, especially with Northwest New Jersey's usual spectacular crop of fall foliage. And it tastes even better, thanks to the efforts all kinds of farmers. You never really know when autumn's gonna end, but you absolutely know what's coming behind it... SLUSH!
Don't miss a thing this fall. It comes and goes so fast, so keep an eye on our calendar and watch out for our virtual efforts to keep you informed.

Hands On

If you're considering a drive through the western reaches of the Skylands in search of fall flavor this weekend, two annual events deserve attention.
Wilbur's Country Store will host it's 38th annual Fall Craft Fair (Sept. 15 & 16) as always, on the lawn behind Wilbur's barn-style complex where craftspeople and artists from four states will set up their wares in a real country setting. For more information about Wilbur's or the fair, located at 735 Route 94 in Frelinghuysen (between Newton and Blairstown), click or call 908-362-8833.
The annual Warren County Preservation Day takes its place at the Roseberry Homestead this Saturday, Sept. 15. The Department of Land Preservation will celebrate Warren County’s vast array of parkland, historic preservation locations, farmland, and open space with live music, history, activities, an exotic animal presentation, food vendors, and much more! Located at 540 Warren Street in Phillipsburg, the Roseberry House is an 18th Century Georgian manor, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, undergoing preservation and restoration. The event will be held rain or shine and admission is free. Click or call 908/453-2650

Skylands By Saddle

Riding is a partnership! Photo by Bob Thompson.
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!

Meant For Meandering

The sheer volume of towns and municipalities in New Jersey is often cited as our state's major burden. But each of our 566 "domains" has a history that never fails to fascinate. Driving down the Mountain Lakes Boulevard through one of America's most expensive zip codes, 07046, is certainly dazzling. But for those who choose to explore, there is a story waiting -- one of plain old human fragility. More...

Bushels of Fun

An apple orchard in autumn radiates a particular security. A walk among ageless trees laden with the mythical fruit is a trip through a special kind of garden. Apples come in many varieties, each cultivated for its own purpose. All have one thing in common; they are good for you. Visitors are often content to roam traditional orchards. Some include wagon rides to the picking area and shops filled with baked goods. Others sell local cider, and a few places make their own, just like in the old days. More than half of New Jersey's apples ripen in September, so its time to pick yours! Check here for locations and more information.
  • Ochs Orchard.
    One of the best! Cider made on site from Red Delicious for sweetness, Winesap for tang, McIntosh and Empire for body. 4 Ochs Ln, Warwick, NY, 845/986-1591
  • Brook Hollow Farm.
    PYO apples, several varieties including semi-dwarf trees (great for kids). Peaches from our orchards, farm market. Near the beautiful Delaware Water Gap, you’ll be glad you found us! Frog Pond Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4577
  • Riamede Farm.
    Pick your own apples and pumpkins at our 250 year old farm. Simple, authentic and without the carnival. Thirty varieties of apples, traditional, heirloom and your modern favorites. Free hay rides on weekends through the scenic old orchards out to the pumpkin patch. Cider, donuts, jams, local honey & more. 122 Oakdale Rd, Chester 07930, 908/879-5353

Skylands Prime

The Brook Hollow Winery, in Knowlton Township, looks out over the vineyard, then beyond to the Delaware Water Gap.

Enjoy hand-crafted wines fermented, aged, and bottled at the Brook Hollow Winery Ritter family farm in the heart of the scenic Delaware Water Gap. In addition to wine tasting and sales, a schedule packed full of events and entertainment makes a visit to Brook Hollow even more essential to a complete autumn agenda. Next Saturday, Sept. 22, you can sit down with the Ritter's for a special evening of delicious food, exclusive wine releases/tastings, good discussion with friends and family, and more. Look for the notice here and make your reservation, or call 908/496-8200! Dinner is limited to just fifty people. Brook Hollow is located at 594 State Highway 94 in Columbia.

Primetime!

Ripe and Ready! Don't let these apples fall far from the tree!
In Northwest New Jersey, there's so much going on in September, we need to add a few more days to the end of each week. Otherwise you'll have to make some choices! Keep an eye on our calendar and watch out for our virtual efforts to keep you informed.

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...

Power of the Pyramid

Its particular geography makes Pyramid Mountain, in Boonton Township, home to an especially wide range of wildlife. The rugged terrain harbors an estimated four-hundred types of native plants and is crisscrossed by thirty types of mammals and one-hundred varieties of birds and myriad butterflies. Take a walk on the Pyramid!

Passages

What was left of Riegelsville Bridge after flood of 1903 was replaced by Roebling's Steel suspension bridge which still stands.
Although the New Jersey historical writer, Frank Dale was nationally recognized for his book Delaware Diary and other work, he was always generous in assisting our efforts to characterize the personality of Northwest New Jersey. In 2001, he provided sketches from a book he was preparing, called Bridges Over the Delaware, that described the many river crossings in Hunterdon County. The story still makes a wonderful travel guide to that section of the Delaware Valley, especially in the fall. Here it is...

Carping

A Grass Carp caught by James Dempsey, Jr of Ewing New Jersey on May 12, 2011 is the official state record. The huge fish weighed an astounding 55 lbs. 8 oz.!
No, we are not talking about complaining here. To an angler, in particular, a fisherman from Great Britain, the word denotes someone who is dedicated--no, devoted--to the fine art of seeking and catching what some Americans foolishly call "Trash Fish". Carp! You see, more people fish for carp in the world than for any other species. Here in New Jersey, we have countless lakes, rivers, ponds and streams that hold carp. Go fishin!

Skylands Prime

Perfectly positioned along a northern journey in search of autumnal adventure, Riviera Maya, a family-owned authentic Mexican restaurant offers all your favorites with a few surprises, expertly prepared and exquisitely presented. Celebrating twelve fantastic years at 340 Route 206 in Branchvile the restaurant is always a fun and exciting dining experience. Or try their other fine-dining location in Rockaway. Call 973/948-6292 or click. Bienvenido!

More lodging and dining...

Field Guide

The Wattles Stewardship Center in Port Murray, is New Jersey Audubon's model for blending environmental awareness, wildlife habitat, and agriculture. The trails, woods and fields are also delightful places to walk!

Learning Hibernia

A forgotten cemetery high above today’s Hibernia.
Tucked between Rockaway Township's town of Hibernia and Split Rock Reservoir lies one of New Jersey's many multi-use Wildlife Management Areas. These tracts of land have been set aside for a variety of public uses including hiking, nature study, photography, exploration, fishing and hunting. Some also offer great opportunity to delve into some of the more obscure aspects of the area's history. Lovers of nature, history, and geology will all find something, laced with a bit of intrigue at Wildcat Ridge.

Wildlife Tracking

When you go for a walk, seek the not-so-obvious. Examining scat and peering through "runs" in the bush, listening to the warning calls of birds, or locating the area where deer slept the night before are the kinds of things that make a hike worthwhile. You need no destination or deadline, just wander. Look closely and you'll feel like you have lived an entire day in a single hour. More...

Skylands Prime

The High Point Mountain Motel is a pet-friendly, AAA-rated motel that offers all the comforts of home on seven country acres on a spectacular hillside location minutes from High Point State Park and Appalachian Trail. Cozy, warmly decorated rooms with up-to-your-door parking offer free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, plus microwaves and minifridges. Kids age 12 and under stay for no extra charge. This fall, take your whole family, including the dog, to the Top of New Jersey--and not spend an arm and a leg! Click or call 973/702-1860. 1328 Route 23, Wantage.

More lodging and dining...



Nowhere Fast

Have you ever followed a highway sign and gotten nowhere? Follow some directional markers off Northwest New Jersey country roads and that's just what you'll get. Unless of course you slow down long enough to take a closer look. A few older homes clustered together, a crumbling foundation, cemetery stones worn with time: these places tell stories worth knowing. Huntsville, in Sussex County, is such a place. There is no post office, general store, fire station, or church. Yet upon closer inspection, those old buildings hold clues to the town which once thrived. Step back in time, a mere fifty years, and the town of Huntsville exists again.

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 32 years, 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. Is there a better place to spice up a lazy summer afternoon? 285 Lamington Rd., Bedminster, 908/ 439-2034.

Hazy and Lazy

Never more than on a hot summer's afternoon does the Delaware River’s cool, clean serenity invite complete immersion. Friends and family enjoy getting down the river by a never-ending variety of methods. Canoes, sailboats, rafts, kayaks, jet-skis, and small motorboats map a tapestry of tracks in the water. Through the indiscriminate labyrinth of wakes float the coolest of customers; the tubists. Effortless and inexpensive, drifting at the river's leisurely flow of 1.5 mph in an inflated oversized inner tube is the supreme expression of aquatic relaxation. However you choose to ride the river, you'll find most any stretch of water accommodating, hospitable and pristine. More...

Scenes you should make

Long lazy days of summer seem like they'll last forever. Don't be fooled, make a splash while you can!

Tomahawk Lake
For 66 years, an immaculate sand bottom sloping gently out to floating rafts has attracted visitors to Tomahawk Lake in Sparta. The park has since added a mountain of water slides. 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.


A public access launch for Swartswood Lake on Route 521 is quiet and remote, but leads to boatloads of fun.
The best known feature of the Stillwater area is probably Swartswood Lake State Park, but there are myriad treasures throughout the rolling hills and three villages in that corner of Sussex County. The lake was a major resort in the early 1900s, and readers remember Louis Lakehouse.

Situated half in New Jersey and half in New York, Greenwood Lake is not about political boundaries. It is a state of mind, a Highlands destination in the with the biggest water in the New York area.

Get to know Lake Hopatcong!


Three Hundred Years of Solitude

Now vacant, the Solitude House stands as a testament to our collective history as a new nation, as well as testament to all those who persevered in the face of overwhelming odds to succeed.
The Hunterdon County Borough of High Bridge would on its face appear little different than any of the other many municipalities in New Jersey. However, the sign, “Settled in 1700”, which welcomes those who pass through this sleepy little town, implies a long abiding heritage: a story of the longest continually operating iron and steel company in United States and the workers who helped shape our country's history and destiny. Read about the Union Forge and walk the Taylor Steelworkers Historic Greenway...

Overnighters!

       

Summer Classic

Lake Hopatcong at Nolan's Point
Back in the day, Lake Hopatcong was a classic summer destination for generations of families. It seems that day has come again, at least on Nolan's Point. This weekend (or anytime), take the family for a game of miniature golf on a tiered lake-side course featuring replicas of historical sites. Then sit down at Alice's Restaurant for a delicious meal and drinks all in the company of scenic views overlooking the lake. Or enjoy delectable Italian fare lakeside at The Windlass.
Book a signature or specialty cruise any day of the week on Miss Lotta, Capable of accommodating up to 45 guests, Miss Lotta boasts a newly refurbished full dining room and upper deck as well as a full bar and a state-of-the-art audio-visual system.
Live the Lake!

Path to Discovery

Stonebridge Road in Stillwater.
Exploring the Paulins Kill Valley Trail is a fine way to spend a mid summer day. With access points and parking spaces in many places along this 27-mile soft dirt-cinder path, you can stroll at leisure or pick up the pace as you wish. You can also explore off trail and discover hidden gems of nature, history and the early culture of coal, commerce and railroads. The trail is flat, easy and comfortable for walkers, horse-back riders, and bicyclists.
For cycling the trail, let 4 Track Bike and Hobby show you the way! Trail rides leave Tuesdays and Saturdays from the shop at 15 Main Street in Blairstown. Bike rentals are available, 908-362-5699



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.

Twilight Time

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 Friday's Firefly Festival at Duke Farms! It's free, but please register in advance.


Ash at the Edge

Two magnificent ash trees stand at the top of a hill at the edge of the woods.
The splendid ash tree faces a crisis in the coming months and years as it confronts the Emerald Ash Borer. Understanding the processes at play, and the possiblities for achieving balance between them, can lend great insight as well as deeper appreciation for your walks in the woods this summer. More...

Your Neighbor's Cow

Dairy workers at the Springhouse Creamery.
A gallon of milk from the supermarket is a combined effort of thousands of cows, raised on any number of farms who knows where. But single herd milk is just that: milk exclusively from the cows that reside on one dairy farm. Northwest New Jersey is now home to two dairy farmers who sell their milk directly to the consumer. It may not seem like much, but it is an important step forward in developing a more direct relationship between food and farm. Cream at the top! Read more and go get some!

Paradise Lost, and Found

A mile-and-a-half north of Millbrook Village in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, you can turn off Old Mine Road and head straight uphill towards the top of the Kittatinny Ridge. Just below the ridge are a series of small lakes that define a haven for those looking for a place to get lost wandering through mountainside forest full of wildlife and open meadows surrounding crystal clear waters. But, the pristine aura at Blue Mountain Lakes yields scant evidence of the ambitious development for which it was created. 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 more than fifty years -- kayaking, canoeing, and rafting and tubing! (Catch the deal of the day here!)

Camp Skylands!

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; the Fourth of July is just around the corner! 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
  • TripleBrook 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
  • 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

Plan Ahead!

       

Stranger in a Strange Land

The roseate spoonbill, native to South America, Central America and parts of Florida, was photographed last week by Bob Thompson in Knowlton Township. Sharp eyes, sharp lense!
You know weird things are happening when you see an exotic creature like this scouting wetlands near the Delaware Water Gap. But here she is! As you choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities in our part of the world, keep your eyes open and don't be a stranger!

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 summer destination. More...

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...

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...

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...

On A Beach

Tomahawk Lake
Don't miss the 66th 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.

Visit The Wild Woods This Summer!

The Flatbrook-Roy
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!

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.

Whole Lotta Love

Capable of accommodating up to 45 guests, Miss Lotta boasts a newly refurbished full dining room and upper deck as well as a full bar and a state-of-the-art audiovisual system.
Sailing from her home port on Nolan’s Point, Miss Lotta is a 57-foot SkipperLiner dinner cruise vessel. She is named for Lotta Crabtree, an actress well-known in the late 1800s who spent her leisure at an elegant house on Lake Hopatcong, then known as the Jewel of the Mountains. Reclaiming that old-time reputation for fine hospitality, Miss Lotta is the largest boat on the lake and available for lunch, dinner and specialty cruises as well as private events during the spring and summer. Celebrate your spring by choosing from dozens of themed cruises, all exciting and creative ways to see the lake. Miss Lotta is only one of several attractions that make Nolan's Point a prime destination for a lovely day. Live the Lake!

Wedding Bell Bliss

Love rules in Spring. But should you find yourself having accepted a proposal for long-term commitment, ask yourself, "Is love all you need for a great wedding?" Love helps, but if you want to really enjoy yourself on The Day, it takes a lot of planning for your once-in-a-lifetime, spare-no-expense affair. If you’re looking for something different and memorable, a place with some soul, point yourself to the rural corners of New Jersey.

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.