Spring, 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.

May 23 - 30

Memorial Day

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

This Memorial Day Weekend, take advantage of a calendar bursting with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or check our Day Trip Map for good ideas for recreational enhancement! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go.

Pedals to the Medals

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

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.

Green on Green

Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, where they produce grass-fed beef and make artisanal cheeses and wood fired breads, is also a wonderful place for a late May afternoon of music, dancing, and food. This Sunday (May 2), Na'bodach - The Band, six fabulous celtic musicians, plus electricity! Enjoy the farm’s delicious foods which are available for purchase; BYOB. 1 - 4pm. Free, resv requested. 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.

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!

Plan Ahead!


Planet Jersey!

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

Spring Prescription

Lusscroft Farm, in Wantage, attracts gardeners, farmers, educators, artists and nature lovers to this historical gem each spring. This weekend's (May 19-20) Tenth Annual Medicine Wheel Festival and Community Garden Celebration features an array of live musical and artistic performances, workshops and demonstrations, plant walks, a plant sale, barn sale, bake sale, farmers, crafters & food vendors, gardening workshops, carriage rides, pony rides, a pop up art show, photography contest, and more, all to support the continued growth and preservation of the Medicine Wheel gardens and the historic buildings at Lusscroft Farm. Admission is $7 for adults, children (under 18) are free. The event is presented by the Friends of the Medicine Wheel, part of the non-profit Heritage & Agriculture Association, in cooperation with the NJ DEP/Division of Parks and Forestry. 50 Neilson Rd, Wantage. Parking entrance is from 4-H Trail on County Route 519 (by mile marker 81 and the stone gatehouse). Directions and more information is available online at LusscroftFarm.org.

The Right Path

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

Ready To Roll

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

Plan Ahead!


Motherly Love!

Photo by Dan Bacon
Don't forget to play the Mother's Day card this weekend. Express your affection with impunity! The New Jersey Skylands can supply the perfect spot to remind your mom how much you care. 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.

Maternal Instinct

Can't figure out what she'd like? Take her shopping and let her decide. Go some place nice where you can spend the day!
Lamington Lifestyles specializes in custom farm tables.
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. Take a lovely country drive to 285 Lamington Rd., Bedminster, 908/439-2034
Pottery at Made To Order.
Mom's love the wide selection of jewelry, pottery, handmade leatherwork, art glass, and most anything else you can find at Made To Order in Clinton. 908/735-4244.
Wilbur's Country Store is a perfect destination on any ride through the country, but especially on Mothers Day! 735 Route 94 in Frelinghuysen, between Newton and Blairstown.
Or take a trip to Gallery 23 in Blairstown where henna-inspired artist Robin Rickard and jeweler Lisa Feidler are featured this month among more than thirty additional selected local artists. 908/362-6865.

Thirsty Moms

The Brook Hollow Winery, in Knowlton Township, looks out over the vineyard, then beyond to the Delaware Water Gap.
The perfect package Mother's Day Package (May 12 & 13) awaits your mom at Brook Hollow Winery, including a complete wine tasting of all of our wines, a single rose to express your love and her beauty, and a wine bottle of your(her) choice with custom label with a personalized message. Purchase your package now, as custom labels take one day to process. 594 State Highway 94 in Columbia, 908/496-8200.
Or take the Winery Train along the scenic Delaware River behind New Jersey's only operating steam locomotive. Then after a short bus ride through rolling farmlands, you will arrive at Villa Milagro Vineyards to learn about winemaking and to sample their delicious wines and have an opportunity to purchase them at the source. Return via the Ol' Susquehanna Mine where you're welcome to detrain and enjoy your wine with a picnic in the picnic grove and then catch a later train home (trains come every hour and half). Delaware River Railroad Excursions, 877-872-4674.

Say it with flowers!

Experience the fragrance of over 200 varieties of lilacs 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. May 12 is National Public Gardens Day! Or take her wildflower hunting. It's the Greatest Show In Earth!

Outdoor Moms

Monksville Reservoir from Horse Pond Mountain. 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 with mom!

Hungry Moms!


Look Alive!

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!

Forest Flowers

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

Splendor in the Garden

Dwarf irises, early bloomers, as they burst through a blanket of fallen leaves at Leonard J. Buck Garden. (Vivian Bedoya)
For a more cultivated look, make your way to Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills, a landscape of art, sprung from a love of the beauty of plants and a reverence for nature. It took the eye of a geologist, fascinated by mineral-topography-plant relationships, to see the valley's potential to showcase the finest of human-bred cultivars and nature's prettiest wild plants.

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...

All Along the Byway

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


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

The Merry Month!

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

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. First up, Kick-off Cruises on May 1 & 3. Then there's a cruise dedicated to all of the strong women in our lives planned for Mother's Day (May 13). 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.

Feel the Earth!

Cabins are available at most campgrounds.
Campgrounds in the Skylands account for a huge amount of fun. Over 500,000 campers relax and enjoy the rural character of Northwest New Jersey each year. Most of these visits come in summer; short overnight or weekend camping trips. But many families make a Skylands campground their own vacation home, renting seasonal sites or bringing their own RV to rest at a lovely -- and well-serviced -- spot somewhere up in the New Jersey countryside. These facilities are a long way from generic trailer hookups and tent sites. Take a drive or click away and check one out soon! Memorial Day Weekend awaits!
  • Camp Taylor Campground
    Camp Taylor offers a wilderness atmosphere with the security and services that public areas often lack, with access to a swimming lake and trails that lead hikers through strikingly beautiful forest to mountain laurel atop a 1600 foot ridge. Seasonal Sites, Tenters, RV rental, Cabins near the Delaware Water Gap. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. 85 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4333
  • Harmony Ridge Campground
    Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest. There are over 200 sites and many activities to choose from; a large pavilion, playground, game courts, swimming pool, paddle boats. The friends and memories you make here will last a lifetime. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973-948-4941
  • Tall Timbers Campground and Recreational Community
    The private campground community offers central water and sewage disposal, two pools with certified lifeguards and a private stocked lake perfect for fishing, and an exceptional recreation program and activities for all. The northern Sussex County location is close to High Point State Park, Action Park and Mountain Creek Ski Area. 100 Tall Timbers Rd, Sussex 07461, 973/875-1991
  • 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

All The Marbles

The original Blue Marble, one of the most famous and widely distributed images of Earth, shows the Eastern Hemisphere. NASA has produced several Blue Marble images since.
This view of the Earth, as seen by the Apollo 17 crew on the way to the Moon in 1972, shows much of the African coastline, the Arabian Peninsula to the northeast, and the Asian mainland on the horizon, all wrapped in water. The heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere does not obscure the enormous quotient of surface covered by the Antarctica South polar ice cap, clearly visible at the bottom. The photograph, the first of what are known as Blue Marble images, conveys the living dynamics of our planet, a delicate organism full of miracles. The science and technology that gave us such humbling perspective forty-six years ago also teaches us that we're playing for all the marbles every day in a fragile and vulnerable world. It is a wonder that we even need an Earth Day to remind us, but here it is!
To celebrate the planet from whence you sprouted, take advantage of a schedule budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

Primary Source

There is no steward of the Earth more respected in New Jersey -- or likely the nation -- than Genesis Farm, an ecological center founded in 1980 as a project of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell. Dedicated to understanding the Universe and Earth as a single, unfolding process, Genesis offers profound insights into our public, personal and spiritual lives and is open to all who are interested in exploring this sacred land, mission, and work. In 1988, Genesis Farm became home to one of the country's first Community Supported Gardens, which now has over 300 members. Take the opportunity next Saturday, April 28 to visit the 226 acres of preserved farmland during the Earth Day Celebration and Open House. Learn about local agriculture and healthy food while you enjoy hayrides, field and greenhouse tours, plant walks, cooking demonstrations, animal and nature activities, food sampling, and more. Genesis Farm is located at 41B Silver Lake Road in Blairstown. Click or call 908/362-7486

Dig Your Earth!

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

Back Road Bounty

Tucked away in the seemingly endless landscape of ridge, valley, and wooded hillside of Warren County 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!


This weekend's (April 21 & 22) Grand Encampment at Jockey Hollow focuses on the life and times of soldiers and civilians during the Revolutionary War. Activities for the whole family include firing demonstrations and drills, children’s drills, walking tours, hikes and more. Morristown National Historical Park; 973/539-2016 x210
For a less formal visit to hallowed historical turf, journey down to the northwest corner of Bernardsville, to a road named Hardscrabble, and the field where the New Jersey Brigade arrived in December 17, 1779 to begin the Jockey Hollow Encampment. Trails crisscross wooded knolls, open meadows, and streams through, not only Morristown National Historical Park, but the neighboring Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, the historic Cross Estate, and mysterious hillsides full of legends. More...



Tax Free Fun!

Photo: Bob Thompson
You’re ready to report to the government and clear your desk of all tax-related matters (correct?) 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!

Friday the Thirteenth

Downtown Blairstown
These stately buildings may be best known to many as the setting for the 1980 horror film that, for millions of movie viewers, made Jason Voorhees Blairstown's most famous resident. But this triumvirate—the National Bank, Water Works and Old Mill—lends a certain gravitas to the village of Blairstown in keeping with the prominence of its namesake, John I. Blair. Despite his accomplishment as one of the world's wealthiest men, Blair, known to townsfolk as "plain John I.", sustained a simple, unembellished lifestyle in his beloved village. The area's extraordinary heritage is in large part due to the fact that his ambition, and his ideas that flourished throughout America originated here in the New Jersey frontier. You can follow this virtual trail through the places where John Blair learned to make his way!
As on every Friday the 13th, the town will celebrate its cinematic notoriety this Friday with multiple showings of the film. And Ari Lehman, the original Jason Voorhees, will appear exclusively at the Blairstown Museum, his first time back in Blairstown since filming in 1979. A fun and creative endeavor indeed, at 26 Main Street. Click for tickets or call 908/362-1371.

Hello Cruel World!

Vilma, a barred owl found by the side of the road when she was a year old, had a compound fracture of the left wing has no sustainable flight. She is known for her beak snapping during programs at The Raptor Trust.
Being born in spring isn't all sunshine and flowers. What happens to baby birds that fall from their nest, and what can you do if you come across an orphan or two? Call The Raptor Trust! Although it's known for rehabilitating hawks, eagles, and owls, The Raptor Trust looks after all avian styles, young and old. Want to guess how many they've fixed over thirty years? Besides saving a homeless avian, you can also go there and see some amazing "rock star" raptors. More...
Many more dedicated organizations have open doors for animal refugees of all makes and models. Here's what they do and how to contact them....

Destiny's Place

The drive up the lane starts slowly through cow pasture and planted trees with glimpses of 19th century blue barns. Soon the North Branch of the Raritan River appears, meandering, shallow over rocky riverbed, picturesque and sparkling clear. The lane ambles upward as the stream turns away, then leads through woodland until it emerges hilltop, with stone cottages and stable in view, then swings in front of a small "castle" in the hills of Somerset County. This is Natirar, home of the once and famous King of Morocco. You can come enjoy its offerings -- spa, restaurant and respite indoors; hiking, horses and fishing outdoors, events, exhibitions and concerts, a museum and interpretive center. More...

Barn People

This property is private, however the road is quiet, and you can stop and get a good view across an open equestrian exercise area.
Keep your eyes open on your road trips this spring, and you might notice something like this classic Dutch-American barn just north of Oldwick village. Dutch barns are a rare breed; there are probably fewer than 700 of them still intact--a good portion of those in our backyard. For barn people, when so powerful an agent as a barn leaves the land, that thing that evokes so many feelings and sentiments of times gone by, such an event can even make us feel sadness.
One thing that most people are not aware of, not even native New Jerseyans, is that our part of the state has the greatest diversity of barn types perhaps in the entire North American continent. More than 150 years ago, they went truly ballistic with all kinds of barn building expressions. We are lucky to have this diverse collection of architectural history in our midst. Take some time, learn and enjoy them before they are lost. More...

Spring Break!


What's That Smell?

It is still an underground movement, but don't be fooled! Spring will be mainstream someday soon. If you can't feel it every day, you can smell it. The "fresh" liberating aroma on a walk through the forest in early spring is, for a biologist, the odor of gases emitted by billions of tiny organisms in the newly thawed earth, releasing nutrients vital to the approaching bloom of wildflowers. The first to pop above the layer of wet, dead leaves is always skunk cabbage, able to spontaneously generate enough heat to propel it through the frozen ground. Keep our calendar close! It's filled with events that invite exploration of this most magical of seasons.

Tight Lines

Snow and ice have yielded to skunk cabbage that pokes through the mud along frigid and fast flowing streams. Perfect for opening day of trout season!
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 7), when a fresh and feisty generation of stocked rainbow trout become fair game. Six-hundred-thousand of them, to be more precise, each born and bred at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center which lies on a 5,000-acre state Wildlife Management Area between Route 46 and Pequest Road in Oxford.
Start your season on the banks of the Paulins Kill in Blairstown, where the Knot Just Flies tackle and bait shop will hold their third annual Opening Day Trout Fishing Tournament (4/7 and 8). 61 State Route 94.
Some prefer the solitude of early spring fly fishing, often along a handful of tiny creeks designated as wild trout waters on opening day.

Rumblings in the Railroad Earth

The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad’s construction of a line that altered the contour of both the landscape and culture of Northwestern New Jersey has been a source of wonder since the first shovels hit the ground near the turn of the last century. Nearly fifty years have passed since the last passenger train rolled on the high line tracks, but the story, which has continued through sometimes bizarre twists and turns, promises many more chapters. The Lackawanna Cut-Off’s saga still stirs emotions, and its future will be debated for years to come. Meanwhile, touring the Cut-Off, either all at once or in bits and pieces, is a worthwhile spring endeavor!

Reporting for Duty

Coquette and Jacques, 2 hours old
Jacques is getting ready to join the herd at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse where they (the cows) live outside, eating grass and being milked seasonally, and not indoors, being fed grain, animal by-products and hormones, and being milked to death. Happy cows make delicious natural cheese, the artisanal cheeses that Bobolink is known for. Take a tour this weekend and see how it's done! 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County) 08848, 908/86GRASS

King of Drakesville

The King Store Museum on Main Street in Ledgewood, once known as Drakesville.
Just off Route 10, near the old, now-vanished, Ledgewood Circle, a stone's throw from the mall, the Drakesville Historic Park pays tribute to Morris County's pedigree of innovative pioneers. Ledgewood's historic district consists of three museums located on Main Street —the King Store, flanked by the King Homestead and the Silas Riggs House—all in the vicinity of the Morris Canal's Inclined Plane 2 and 3 East and two canal basins. Read more about Drakesville, then plan on a first-hand visit during this Sunday's (April 8) Spring Open House for special tours and programs from 1 - 4pm at 209-213 Main Street in Ledgewood.

House On A Hill

The Jim and Mary Lee Museum
Jim Lee, Sr., a railroad conductor who grew up in Phillipsburg, was so fascinated with the Morris Canal that he bought what had been the site of one of the canal's inclined planes, and moved his young family to a trim two-story house where the man who operated the plane had lived. If it weren't for Mr. Lee's extensive work documenting the Morris Canal era, it may have been entirely forgotten. Today, the former planetender's home at the Morris Canal's Inclined Plane #9 West in Greenwich Twp., houses a collection of Morris Canal artifacts as the Jim and Mary Lee Museum. The museum is open for visitation this Sunday, April 8. 477 County Route 519, Stewartsville.
Sign up for Warren County Wanderings, and get regular updates on things to do in Warren County. Or visit the Explore Warren website.

Spring Babies

A barn owl chick poses in a hay loft after being rehabilitated at the Mercer Wildlife Center and before being returned to the nest box. (Photo: MacKenzie Hall)
Multiplication is the order of the season, and snow or no snow, the show must go on! Look and listen for the signs of spring and making babies!! Let your senses soak up the season — its fleeting beauty, warmth, scents, and most of all the peace and rejuvenation in its experience. More...

Acting Out

The 39 Steps, playing at The Barn Theater in Montville.
Theater-going in northwest New Jersey equals adventure. It’s about discovering theater in unexpected places — by a lake, a golf course, a brick-sided former morgue, old vaudeville house, or contemporary addition to a Stanford White designed Georgian mansion. Whatever your theater tastes — musicals, dramas, revivals, premieres, experimental, you can find it here — in professional theaters featuring paid actors, designers, directors and staff or all-volunteer community theaters, where your neighbor could be starring in a show.
How about this weekend's work, The Serene Secret, by a local playwright at the Dover Little Theater?

Schooley's Elusive Spirit

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

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...

A Silk Purse

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

Along the Western Front

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

Touchy Subjects

"We want people to touch things!" says Park Superintendent Tom Ross.
The result of nearly a decade of work, the new Discover History Center at the Washington Museum at Morristown National Park opens this President's Day Weekend, Feb. 17-19. The $2.2 million dollar project for the 21st –century is an immersive, interactive, exhibits that engages visitors of all ages with hands-on and multi-media experiences to explore the stories of Morristown, the Continental Army, General Washington, and Continental Congress during the years that “tried men’s souls.” The galleries feature many never-before seen artifacts, interactive activities geared towards children and adults, and five new videos to experience. The weekend will feature a variety of activities in addition to the new exhibits. For a complete schedule, check here.

Learning Lenape

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

Foggy Mountain Breakdowns

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