Summer, 2019

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.

July 18 - 25

Cows Outside!

Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, where they produce grass-fed beef, and make artisanal cheeses and wood fired breads, is a wonderful place for a summer afternoon visit. The farm store is always open and there are farm tours on weekends. You'll find Bobolink at 369 Stamets Rd in Milford (Hunterdon County) 08848, 908/86GRASS
The cornstalks are approaching eye-level, and, while you wait for local Jersey tomatoes to ripen, the next few weeks celebrate the Skylands agricultural tradition in a big way.

Of course, New Jersey farmers shine at the Warren County Farmers' Fair, which opens next Saturday, July 27, and runs seven days, through August 3. The Fair also features some exciting music, including concerts by Adam Yarger on Sunday (7/28), Bobby Clark Band on Friday (8/2) and Leah Marie Fuls on Saturday (8/3). Admission also includes the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, with mass balloon ascensions at 6:30 each evening.

Then, the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show, runs from August 2 - 11, ten days of agricultural events, animals, exhibits, vendors, crafts, fair food, free entertainment and a big carnival, and much more!

On July 27, the 30th annual Midsummer Herb Festival at Well-Sweep Herb Farm celebrates ‘Anise Hyssop’, Agastache, the 2019 International Herb Association’s Herb of the Year. This year is the farm's 50th Anniversary. Reservations are required. 908/852-5390.

You can learn all about New Jersey farmers at local 4-H fairs. Plan on attending for some free family fun. You might even figure out what all those H's stand for! (hot, humid, hungry, happy!) Morris County's 4-H Fair is already in session and runs through this weekend with exhibits and all kinds of entertainment at Chubb Park on Route 24 in Chester. Somerset County 4-H Fair runs August 7-9 in Bridgewater at North Branch Park: family fun in 15 acres of exhibits, entertainment, food concessions. Hunterdon County Agricultural Fair takes place from August 21 - 25 with agricultural and 4-H Shows & Exhibits, food concessions, amusement rides. South County Park, Route 179, Ringoes.

Beat the heat with a paddle!

This time of year is perfect big time strokes on the Delaware. 331 miles from Hancock, NY, to its mouth at Cape May Point, NJ, the Delaware is the longest free-flowing river in Eastern United States. Knowing the river - its beauty, history, and its hazards - can provide you and your family with many days of enjoyment this summer.
In the Delaware Water Gap area, Chamberlain Canoes is a great choice for a canoe, kayak or raft trip. (Click for a discount here.)

One Track Mind

The Rockaway River begins its descent at Boonton Falls. The fall line, which generated water power and attracted industry, is the planned terminus for the Liberty Historic Railway trolley shuttle through Grace Lord Park.
A progression of relentless efforts to commemorate New Jersey’s abundant transportation heritage have found renewed focus at Boonton’s Grace Lord Park, where the mighty splendor of the Rockaway River gorge traces a forgotten industrial past.

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...

A Scene You Should Make

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.

Camp Skylands!

Kymer Camping Resorts offer you and your family three different camping environments to explore; from a hike along the Appalachian Mountains, to fishing in a 45-acre lake, to rafting down the Delaware River! And if you think camping is only for those who own camping equipment, think again. Each campground offers exciting rental options for those families that want to enjoy the camping experience without having to purchase their own camping equipment. Trailer or cabin rentals are also available. Take a look and decide which fits you best! The campfire is calling!
Sign up for Warren County Wanderings, and get regular updates on things to do in Warren County. Or visit the Explore Warren website.

Moonlight Miracles

With a wingspan of 4.5 to 7 inches, the luna belongs to group known as giant silk moths. It is one of the larger moths in North America.
Who doesn’t enjoy looking at a beautiful butterfly as it flutters by and lands on a pretty flower? Maybe you have a butterfly garden that allows you the pleasure of sneaking in for a closer look at these fragile creatures all day long. But what if you could double your viewing pleasure? That’s right, day and night!

Crafts in the Country

Wilbur's Country Store has been hosting craft fairs for 39 years. This weekend, July 13-14, craftspeople and artists will set up their wares in a real country setting, on the lawn behind Wilbur's barn-style complex. Crafts include jewelry, pottery, quilting, folk art, dolls, decorative signs and country wood items, silk and dried flower arrangements, stained glass creations, pillows, toys, children’s clothes, bird houses and much, much, more! Located at 735 Route 94 in Frelinghuysen, between Newton and Blairstown, Wilbur's is the perfect destination on a drive through the New Jersey countryside. For more information about Wilbur's or the fair, click or call 908-362-8833.

Mothers of Invention

The Van-Bunschooten Museum in Wantage
Since the turn of the 20th Century, New Jersey's Daughters of the American Revolution have been inventing ways to preserve our heritage. For the past forty-six years, Sussex County's D.A.R. chapter has been concerned with the renovation of a house built around 1787 as well as its preservation as the Van-Bunschooten Museum. This weekend's (July 12-14) Christmas in July Open House is the best way to get acquainted with this story of post-Revolutionary settlement. The house is located at 1097 Route 23 North in Wantage.
You'll find more Christmas in July this Saturday (July 13) at Waterloo Village with original gifts, Santa, food trucks, beer, demonstrations, tours and kayaking on the Morris Canal. Double your pre-pre-holiday fun!

Founding Farmers

White Township farmer Albert Smith in 1972, photographed by Richard Harpster.
The pressures of industrial land development in New Jersey are relentless. In White Township (Warren County) more than six million square feet of warehouses have been proposed that would bury six hundred acres of prime farmland along the Delaware River. Farms have always been integral to the fabric of Warren County, and farmers have always had to adapt to changing economic and community demands. An interesting book about farms -- a fascinating collection of oral histories by farm families in White Township -- reminds us of the farmer's ingenuity, and of the values represented by the county's agricultural heritage. Before rolling over to the false promise of vast rateables, its important to consider the potential of that heritage in addressing the equally unrelenting challenges of our climate crisis and future food supplies.

Camp Skylands!

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

Mark Your Calendars!

       


Summer Song

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

The Hunterdon Symphony opens the 43rd annual Music Under The Stars series, tonight (June 26). Presented by the Hunterdon County Park System, free concerts are held on subsequent Thursday evenings throughout the summer at Deer Path Park, in Flemington.

Grab a lawn chair or blanket and come enjoy a wide range of musical talent each Friday at the magnificent New Jersey Botanical Gardens in Ringwood. This week, (July 28) the The Kootz will entertain.

The Summer Music at the Barn series kicks off this Saturday evening (June 29, 6pm) with the two great string bands: Sycamore Banjo Band and the Skylands Dulcimer String Band. Come enjoy music from all eras plucked and hammered with gusto! The venue is part of the Historic Ramsaysburg Homestead along the Delaware River on Route 46 at Ramseyburg Road in Knowlton Township. Come early to picnic and enjoy this historic park.

Also this Saturday evening (June 29) the Centenary Stage Company presents Dr. K's Motown Revue, an outstanding group of musicians and singers ready to take you on a soulful trip.

On Sunday evenings, bring lawn chairs and a picnic supper to Oxford for free Shippen Manor Lawn Concerts. This week, Cirotti & Alexander + Noble Blood, an ensemble of working musicians and old friends from various projects and musical backgrounds picking on Americana, roots, jazz, blues and bluegrass.’

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

Every other Tuesday at 12:30pm, Music Beyond Borders graces the Green in Morristown with sounds from around the world. On July 9, Armando Son Jimenez’ Grupo Sabor adds a bit of Colombian Salsa to your lunch hour. 973/285-5115

Just Plane Fun

The Flight Path Trail in Boonton Township traces the perimeter of what once was the Rockaway Valley Aerodrome.
It’s easy to overlook the rich aviation history in New Jersey’s northwest corner. Way before Silicon Valley and the dawn of the computer age, guys in basements and industrial labs in the Skylands worked on the hot tech of the day— flight Located in and around early Skylands airports, they helped move airplanes from mainly experimental and military enterprises into the heart of American commerce and lives. Make a loop this summer, visiting area airports and discover not only that science and history but also the thrill of flight — from the air if you dare, from the ground if you don’t. 

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.

High Society

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

The Longest Day

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. Saddle up this summer!
The summer solstice is on Friday (June 21), the day with more light than any other! Good thing; you'll need all that sunshine to enjoy all that Northwest New Jersey has to offer this and every day of the splendid season. Take advantage of a schedule full of intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands; summer starts now!

Canal Day

Take a boat ride on the Morris Canal at Waterloo Village this Saturday.
For many, Waterloo Village is the place that most completely identifies the heritage of northern New Jersey. Waterloo was approximately half-way along the Morris Canal's 102-mile journey across the state, from Phillipsburg to Jersey City, and had all the components necessary to become a thriving canal town.
During this Saturday's (June 22) Canal Day at Waterloo Village in Byram Township, the Canal Society of New Jersey will offer guided tours of the restored canal village, along with a wide range of programming. A narrated canal boat ride, the Canal Museum, trades demonstrated at the gristmill and blacksmith shops, period music and many historic structures open for inspection promise revival for this important historic site. Waterloo Village is stuffed with stories -- don't miss the one about the recovery of a lost Morris Canal boat which is now on display! For more information click or call 973-292-2755.

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!

Heavenly Hues

Mountain laurel has waxy leaves and large, white flowers popular with bumblebees.
As the wildflower season unfolds, the tree canopy leafs out, and wildflowers grow taller, reaching for the sun and no longer held back by frosts. Unlike long-blooming, non-native annuals that pervade the nursery trade, native perennial wildflowers bloom briefly, anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the species. A regular visit to particularly robust nature preserves can reveal different wildflowers blooming each time. Jenny Jump State Forest has a magical variation in elevation and terrain that makes it a rewarding site for late spring forest flowers.

Station to Station

The Hunterdon section of the Columbia Trail includes occasional interpretive signs which relate the area's history.
While Hunterdon's system of rails was not as intricate as farther north, where mining was more prevalent, the county was home to many spur lines used to transport passengers and products to charming villages and hamlets. Walk these rail trails -- exercise for the body and mind!

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 summer, 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...

Summer Vacation!

      



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.
Sign Dad up for a any day plan or all of the 25th Annual Delaware Sojourn, a guided paddling and camping trip full of fun and adventure, educational programs, historical interpretation, and more, from June 14-25. He'll never forget it!
Or in the Delaware Water Gap area, Chamberlain Canoes is a great choice for a canoe, kayak or raft trip. (Click for a discount here.)


Power Dads

The annual Warren County Farmers' Fair -- 82 years old this year -- is many things to many people: an agricultural showcase, a hot-air balloon festival, a family carnival, an arts and crafts expo, performance stage, and Power Events. Spectators come from far and wide to witness fierce competition in the Demolition Derby, Diesel Truck Pull, Stock/Hot Stock Tractor Pull, 4-Wheel Drive Truck Pull, Mud Bog, and Bulls and Barrels new this year! Tickets go fast, so get Dad's tickets in advance via mail order now! Download the order form from the website or contact the fair business office at 908-859-6563. This year's fair takes place July 27-August 3 at the intersection of Rt. 519 and Strykers Road in Harmony Township.

History Hike

The Solitude House in High Bridge
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. At 7 River Road, 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. Visit the museum this Saturday (June 15) and, from there, follow 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...

Camp Skylands!

Cabins are now available at most campgrounds.
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
  • 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, 800/526-2267
  • 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, 800/543-0271
  • 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

Talking 'Bout Regenertion

This patch of ground along the Paulins Kill hasn't seen daylight in maybe a hundred years. But since they've removed the dam at Columbia, the river runs free and the lake is gone! The grasses seem to have jumped right back in there on their own, but the trees need help. Thousands are being planted by volunteers under the guidance of The Nature Conservancy. The tubes shield the seedling trees until they're tall enough to stand above the reach of hungry deer.
You don't have to get your hands dirty to take advantage of a schedule full of intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

Field Hands

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

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...

Step Lightly!

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

Planning Aids!

      


It wouldn't be a stretch to say this stormy, wet spring has left something to be desired. But here comes the sun, so take advantage of a schedule full of intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. How can you complain?

Fully Herbalized

Perennial garden and sundial at Well-Sweep
Discover the spice of life, at the 50th Anniversary Spring Open House on Saturday, June 1-2, at Well-Sweep Herb Farm. Enjoy two days of free lectures, presentations, and tours of spectacular gardens. Lecture topics include Favorite Kitchen Herbs, Perennials of Distinction, Funky, Far-out and Fabulous Plants, and more!. Special guest speakers include Jay Chai (Pandan Room restaurant), apiarist Lorette Cheswick, Kerry Adams, a practicing herbalist of 45 years and Olga Tzogas of Smugtown Mushrooms. Well-Sweep's largest selection of herb plants will be available, and homemade refreshments can be enjoyed by all. Free admission and parking. Click or call 908/852-5390. Well-Sweep is located between Hackettstown and Washington at 205 Mt. Bethel Rd. in Port Murray. Happy 50!

Maneuvers

Shippen Manor
On Sunday, June 2, celebrate American independence a month early with members of Helm's Company, 2nd New Jersey Regiment, a recreated unit of the Continental Army. Lamb’s Artillery will demonstrate musket and canon firing on the grounds of the Shippen Manor Museum in Oxford. Costumed docents will also guide tours of the c. 1754 ironmaster's mansion, adjacent to c. 1741 Oxford Furnace. Both sites are on the National Register. 1 - 4pm. Donations are encouraged. 8 Belvidere Ave., Oxford Shippen Manor Museum; 908/453-4381.

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...

Slip Sliding Away

If you come upon a wood turtle, admire that groovy carapace and those sexy red legs; and move him out of the road if you have to. But you may not take him home! Wood turtles gained designation as a threatened species in 1979 because of habitat loss and their popularity in the illegal pet trade. There ten types of turtles in our neck of the woods; all quite fascinating, but let them be! Take a closer look...

Action Items

Two huge warehouse projects of insane dimensions are being planned for construction in Warren County. To find out more about the 1,200,000 sq. ft. facility that has been proposed in the Muscontecong Valley, check Skylands Preservation Alliance website or come to the wine, craft beer and cheese tasting fundraiser ($35) at Hawk Pointe Golf Club in Washingtonon on Sunday, June 2nd from 2-5 pm.
Belvidere Citizens Against Overdevelopment can provide information about another big idea in White Township via their Facebook page or at a 7pm meeting tonight at the Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut St in Hope.

Summer Classic

Tomahawk Lake
Don't miss the 67th 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.

Back Road Bounty

Summertime adventure is easy to find on a back country road.
Tucked away in the seemingly endless landscape of ridge, valley, and wooded hillside 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!

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

swans
Unlikely as it may seem in this cold wet May, your garden can soon look like Shawna Bengivenni's, who grows flowers to protect her organically grown edibles in Wantage.
Memorial Day is around the corner, as May approaches its verdant peak. Is your garden in? Anyone can grow their own veggies in garden plots, raised beds, deck planters or any small space. It saves money , it's good for you and it's fun! Learn how to get the most out of your earth by examining Mary's best (and easiest) veggie garden primer. How does your garden grow? Or check these tips about growing your own Victory Garden!
When you're done planting, take advantage of a calendar budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or check our Day Trip Map for good ideas for a Sunday drive! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go.

The Right Path

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

Ready To 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!

Both Sides Now

Stone lime kiln along River Road near Carpentersville.
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.

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.

 


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 33 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 Orchard View Lavender Farm where a shop full of lavender products made for nearly every aspect of life accentuates a strikingly beautiful setting in which you are welcome to meander! 101 Karrsville Rd., Port Murray; 908/362-6865.

Skylands Prime!

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

For an elegant 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 — 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 offers quick access, not only to the spectacular network of hiking trails in the Delaware Water 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.
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!


Alive and Well!

Bob Thompson
It doesn't last forever, so take advantage of a schedule budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Blooming Beauty!

Mistical Experience

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

Big River

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

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!

Legstretchers

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

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 sspring. More...

Mother's Day Approaches!

   
   

May Day Alert!

Photo by Tammy Fazio
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!

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? Find out at this Saturday's Bringing Up Birdie event at 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....

Restless Natives

A native mountain laurel allee at The Cross Estate Gardens in Morristown.
Native plants (those that lived here before the colonists arrived) make outstanding gardens because they are strong growers, ornamental, require less maintenance than many exotics, and are particularly attractive to birds and butterflies. Some are even rumored to be deer-resistant! Go get some for your own yard or garden either at the Musconetcong Watershed Association's Native Plant Sale (Saturday, April 27), or the Spring Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration (Saturday and Sunday) at Leonard Buck Garden.
You can learn about natives and how to use them next Saturday (May 4) at Well-Sweep Herb Farm's Woodland Gardening With Natives, informative presentations full of ideas about woodland and butterfly gardens, native wildflowers and ferns. The programs are free but reservations are required. Click or call 908/852-5390. Well-Sweep is located between Hackettstown and Washington at 205 Mt. Bethel Rd. in Port Murray.

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. 908/475-2730

Home Waters

I’ve fished the stream through the chill of March and the dark skies of April. By the time May has arrived I’ve worked out the kinks developed over the long, dark months of winter. Muscle memory has been restored, my rhythm returned.

Steep Devotion

The view from the top of Mt. Tammany is worth the sweat. Photo: Erin Burnett
Whatever your plans in the great outdoors this spring, make hiking in the Delaware Water Gap part of your adventure. The Gap offers trails for all hikers from novice to expert. Come with a sense of wonder, a willingness to explore, and you may find a trail blazed just for you.

Planet Waves

This image was captured in October 2015 when NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was eighty miles above the Moon's surface traveling 3,580 miles per hour.
The science and technology that gives us such humbling perspective also teaches us that we face critical decisions 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!
Author, philosopher, and cultural historian Thomas Berry has long been a voice for Earth’s voiceless. In 1993, Berry wrote a paper that would later be revised, edited and included as a chapter in one of his major books, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future. Take a few moments this holiday weekend to celebrate his life and the seeds of vision he planted, even while he grieved the terminal phase of Earth’s Cenozoic Era. Here are Thomas Berry's thoughts on the The New Political Alignment.
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.

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...

The Hills Are Alive

The Hill and Dale Preserve in Tewksbury is the most recent purchase of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF), an organization dedicated to saving and protecting New Jersey's important lands and natural resources for all to enjoy.

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...

Homegrown Housing

The straw bale house at Genesis Farm.
Natural building considers a structure’s impact on the local environment and culture, the global ecology, the needs and well-being of the inhabitants, and the quality of the building itself. Straw bale homes can make a significant contribution toward relieving the many challenges we face due to the effects of climate disruption, the increased scarcity of safe fossil fuels for our energy future, and the increased demands on the planet’s forests for construction materials for our human buildings. The straw bale house at Genesis Farm in Frelinghuysen demonstrates the use of locally available, time-tested renewable materials to construct an energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing home. Have a look!

Earthlinks!

       


Happy Returns

Jacob sheep await their spring haircut at Jenny Jump Farm.
You’re ready to submit your tax return to the government and clear your desk of all suspicious 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!

Schedule See

The massive 32-foot-high stone blast furnace at Split Rock was erected in 1862 during the Civil War, the last charcoal-fired furnace built in New Jersey. It operated for only about ten years, consuming approximately one acre of woodland each day for charcoal fuel. The original Splitrock tract consisted of 3,000 acres in the Farny highlands that included forges, mines and a village, remnants of which are evident throughout the area.
Split Rock Reservoir’s charm lies in its remote, almost hidden location. You can approach it from Rockaway Township via Hibernia Road or through Boonton Township via Split Rock Road. Either way, you end in a mile-long unpaved stretch that brings you to parking and to a one-lane bridge with an unspoiled view down the length of the nearly six-hundred-acre body of water. Not far from Split Rock Road, accessible by trail, stand the towering Split Rock Furnace ruins.

Hidden Assets

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

Bird Call

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

Net Worth

Picatinny Peak rises above Picatinny Lake, once known as Clifford Pond.
The Cultural Resource Program at Picatinny Arsenal has documented dozens of historic and Native American archaeological sites that tell a story that spans centuries in the New Jersey Highlands. More...

Household Income

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 14. 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.

Opening Day

Opening day of fishing season. Shiny SUVs are parked beside beat up pickups and mud splattered Jeeps behind the local diner, where anglers stand shoulder to shoulder on the bank of the river that passes through our town. Most years, I’d remain at home during opening day; for me fishing has never been a team sport. But it has been an especially long winter, and so instead, I pass by the diner and drive out of town. More..
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 6), 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. Check our general fishing guide and see how to find ‘em, catch ‘em and cook ‘em.

Partners Du Jour

Lou Tommaso at LL Pittenger Farm in Andover provides grass-fed beef, chicken and pork for several area restaurants, as well as for the general public. The cheese and charcuterie board, a staple at James On Main restaurant in Hackettstown, utilizes the local charcuterie produced from Tommaso’s Berkshire hogs.
There is no formal definition for a "farm-to-table" menu, but diners usually expect that so-described selections are prepared with locally sourced ingredients supplied directly by farmers who have raised their crops or livestock without the use of pesticides or hormones. Is this just another exclusive food fad, or can it be part of a social movement towards a sustainable local economy in Northwest New Jersey? More...



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...

Fertile Ground

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

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...



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