July 1 - 8
Bonfires and Illuminations?
The Fourth of July
, as John Adams
put it, "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." This year, not so much!
But hopefully you'll be able to find a safe and comfortable situation to reflect on the meaning of our virtual independence. If you need a place to do so, choose among dozens of natural attractions
or outdoor activities
. Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands!
Some like it hotter!
GitanMagique – or in English, “Magic Gypsy” – consists a a jazz
violinist, two virtuoso guitarists and a hard driving acoustic bassist.
The music was hot, but there was no cooler customer than Django Reinhardt! The Gitan Magique brings the guitarist's infectious brand of Gypsy Jazz to the farmhouse lawn at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse this Sunday, July 5. You can enjoy Bobolink cheese plates, 100% grass-fed burgers, and house made hot dogs, available for purchase at the show (BYOB). Please plan to wear a mask while purchasing your food, and bring blankets, lawn chairs, and umbrellas. Reservations are essential, as capacity is limited to 100 guests, in order to make sure everyone can set up their "camp" comfortably with appropriate social distance. 1 - 4pm. $5. 369 Stamets Rd, Milford
(Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.
Paths of stories
The Morris Canal
always was a good place for a stroll. The canal's 102-mile meander across northern New Jersey, from Phillipsburg to Jersey City, was walked by every mule driver for every team that pulled a canal boat from 1831 to 1924.
However, the canal's towpath also served as a route for recreational rambles during its years of operation.
Morris Canal Greenway
is a reassembly of many segments along that route. Partners that include, among others, the Canal Society of New Jersey
and the Warren County Dept. of Land Preservation,
have gone to great lengths to document the fascinating stories along the way. Take a summer stroll!
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...
Your Neighbor's Cow
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!
The Rosemary Inn on 17 pastoral acres near the Delaware Water Gap.
For a summer 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, 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.
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!
The Longest Day
Summer gives way to the six-legged world of insects; a universe of creatures whose variety, adaptability and beauty will astonish anyone who cares to look.
The summer solstice
is on Saturday (June 20), the day with more sunshine than any other! Good thing; we'll need all the light we can get to navigate what is sure to be a challenging summer.
And Sunday is Father's Day
already! So, take that man by the hand and show him all that Northwest New Jersey has to offer.
Choose among dozens of natural attractions
or outdoor activities
suggested on our website. Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands; summer starts now!
Bienvenido! Dinner is an adventure made at Riviera Maya
Make your Dad feel loved by treating him to a special meal. You know the connection: stomach... heart.
If you've ever been to Riviera Maya,
you know this family-owned authentic Mexican restaurant offers all your favorites with a few surprises, expertly prepared and exquisitely presented. The restaurant has worked up a fantastic on-line menu that includes family packs
that they will prepare for pick up at their Branchville (340 Route 206)
or Rockaway (116 Rt. 46
) location. Bring it home for Dad! 973/948-6292
Head over to Four Sisters Winery
for the Father's Day BBQ,
(Saturday and Sunday, 12 - 5pm) where you'll find good food, tasty wine live music all seated outdoors under tents or on the deck. 783 County Road 519, Belvidere.
Call for tickets, 908/475-3671.
Music-loving dads won't want to miss the Arts, Crafts and Music Festival
on Saturday (June 20) in Washington Borough
, a live music, original art, and crafts, celebration in conjunction with GreenFest and the Washington Borough Farmers Market
kick off. Dance the day away whill you explore upcycled and recycled goods vendors, gardening and outdoor groups, environmental preservation exhibitors and related non-profit organizations and vendors. 10am - 5pm. Downtown borough.
Washington Business Improvement District
The Hunterdon section of the Columbia Trail includes occasional interpretive signs which relate the area's history.
Take Dad station to station
along any of Hunterdon County's Rail Trails.
While Hunterdon's system of rails was not as intricate as farther north, where mining was more prevalent, the county was home to many spur lines used to transport passengers and products to charming villages and hamlets. Exercise for the body and mind!
Just in time for Father's Day Weekend, the Tamerlaine Sanctuary and Preserve
will reopen for in-person tours at 141 Clove Road, Montague.
Take Dad on a visit to this 336-acre at the historic Farm
will now lots of living space for a growing legion of over two hundred animals that call Tamerlaine their home: clucking hens, crowing roosters, quacking ducks, oinking pigs, turkeys, goats, cows, horses, and, all of them with their own unique personality and personal history.
The goal of the tours is to teach humane education and the plight of farmed animals. All tours will be age appropriate and geared toward the group. Tamerlaine's mission to make the world a better place for animals and to show visitors that kindness starts on their plate. Get your tickets online
now or email.
Make your voice heard
at the Juneteenth March and Vigil on Saturday, June 20 (3pm) at Turkey Brook Park, 30 Flanders Road in Mt. Olive.
Bring signs and posters to show solidarity with black people across the country. Masks must be worn.
Make memories for a lifetime
at Harmony Ridge Campgrounds!
Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest include over 200 sites on 160 acres, cabins, trailers, tent sites, camp store, laundry, hot showers and full range of on-site activities.
23 Risdon Drive, Branchville
, 973/948-4941. Where the road ends, camping begins!
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!
For those in the know (and it's important that you know
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.
Big Ponds, Big Fish
Pound for pound, the hybrid striped bass rates right up there with the best of the fresh water fish when it comes to putting up a good fight once hooked. Pound for pound, the walleye is hard to beat for table fare, with some fishermen calling it the best tasting fish of them all. Fortunately for those anglers in this part of the state who like some muscle on the end of their line and tasty fillets on the table, there are plenty of both fish around due to vigorous and well-planned stocking programs. These fish are there
... but you're going to have to work for them.
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...
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...
Quick and tricky or quiet and easy; canoe, kayak, raft or tube; the floating experience in Northwest New Jersey comes in many flavors.
Our precious rivers and streams deliver the goods! Spring is best, when the water is high and the traffic is low.
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.
Ten thousand years ago receding glaciers sculpted the final product of their existence, leaving a series of streams that are both fascinating to ponder and paddle. The ice age created the heart of Sussex County's Vernon Township, a vast river bottomland that collects water from the surrounding mountains in a network of creeks and wetlands that make for a classic canoeing adventure
on Wawayanda and Pochuck Creeks.
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 ramble. Check your Google Map, grab your GoPro, maybe hitch your Raleigh or Old Town to the car top, and get started.
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.
Erected by the citizens of Sussex County in 1895, the ninety-ton granite Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument occupies the Newton Green. An eight-foot tall Union Soldier stands at parade rest atop a thirty-foot pedestal inscribed with battles where Sussex County soldiers fought.
There are somewhere around 1,200
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."
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,
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...
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!
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. But every 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.
Visit The Wild Woods This Summer!
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!
Campgrounds are open!
New Jersey Campground Owners and Outdoor Lodging Association is happy to announce
that they have finally received clarification from the Governor's office that campgrounds in New Jersey may reopen for business for their transient campers effective Friday, May 22nd.
While campgrounds are open, they will still be following CDC and State Department of Health suggestions to keep their staff and campers safe. Campgrounds may also have restrictions from their local municipalities so NJCOA suggests you call your favorite campground for further information. Memorial Day Weekend awaits!
Camp Taylor Campground
Camp Taylor offers a wilderness
atmosphere with the security and services that public areas often
lack, with access to a swimming lake
and trails that lead hikers through strikingly beautiful forest to
mountain laurel atop a 1600 foot ridge. Seasonal Sites, Tenters, RV rental, Cabins near the Delaware Water Gap. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. 85 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4333
Harmony Ridge Campground
Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest. There are over 200 sites and many activities to choose from; a large pavilion, playground, game courts, swimming pool, paddle boats. The friends and memories you make here will last a lifetime. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973/948-4941
- Kymer's Camping Resort
Trailer and cabin rentals and trailer and tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on 200 scenic acres. 69 Kymer Rd., Branchville, 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
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, find safe ideas for recreational enhancement on our
Day Trip Map
! For the more aerobically inclined, the
shows the way to go.
Count the Ways!
Landscape artist St. Clair Sullivan climbs the Red Dot trail to the top of Mt. Tammany every morning that weather permits. Each day he takes a photograph and emails it home to his wife, Rita.
Warren County offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for all kinds of people. Outdoor lovers enjoy rigorous hikes, abundant wildlife and superb scenery. For those who favor history, the river valleys become avenues marked by eight thousand years of human endeavor from the initial Lenni Lenape habitation, through the days of Colonial settlement, to the heady times of the Morris Canal and the great railroads. Others come to savor classic architecture and country hospitality in the small villages. All agree that Warren County’s rural nature is the key to its allure. Here are fifty ways to see Warren!
Wet and Wild
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!
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!
Located on Main Street in Blairstown, Gallery 23
is a cooperative gallery comprised of 35 artists; including potters, painters, fiber artists, jewelry artists, woodworkers, sculptors, photographers and more. Since their founding in 2001, this unique fine crafts and art showroom has gained an impressive reputation as a destination point for visitors from all over the country and abroad. Until the Gallery reopens, you can support these dedicated artists by browsing the gallery website
page for something you like, then email
or call 908/362-6865 for purchase and delivery!
The Flammarion Engraving. Although altered and colorized many times over, this well-known image is based on an engraving by an unknown artist. The engraving’s first documented appearance was in a 1888 book by the French astronomer, Camille Flammarion, with the caption “A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where the sky and the Earth touch.”
The traditional Gaelic festival known as Beltane
marks the midpoint between two more prominent seasonal changes: the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Our modern Hallmark calendar might mark that festival's progeny as a much diluted May Day,
one that 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. This year, all joy is tempered by the waves of another kind of fever that threaten our families, friends and neighbors.
April showers bring the May flowers that, with their colors, forms and fragrances, allure certain insects
to visit them in order to gather nectar. The insects collect and redeposit the ephemeral gifts of plant pollen, each speck of which encloses the vast mystery of the plant’s genetic identity and memory and thus “cross-pollinates” and increases the fertility and health of the plant itself. Usually by the time of the summer solstice, the stupendous gift of Sun’s energy to Earth has coaxed out of the flower the emergence of the plant’s fruit. Rituals and festivals like Beltane emerged throughout the world to celebrate the universal harmony expressed in the ever-dependable planetary calendar.
This year, Earth’s planetary timing may be so disrupted that the opening of flowers may not coincide with the emergence of the pollinating insects. It is clear that some very vital element has been distressed and this disturbance is more important than often acknowledged.
Perhaps the painful divisions stirred by the recently released YouTube film, Planet of the Humans,
will awaken all of us to the folly that life can go on as usual if we can only find more "green" sources of energy to allow us to buy a little more time to modify our insatiable lifestyles.
Or perhaps it has taken this horrific pandemic to shock us into facing the inequities embedded in our economic ethics and institutions, even as we yearn to sing and dance around the Maypole.
Parks have reopened, so with prudence and caution, venture forth!
The Hill and Dale Preserve
in Tewksbury is a 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.
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!
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
, 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...
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!
Cinco de Mayo to go!
Stock up, fresh from the farm!
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, is the first of what are known as Blue Marble
images that convey the living dynamics of our planet, a delicate organism full of miracles. Today's 50th Earth Day
reminds us that for many years, we have been warned that Earth’s air, oceans, rivers, forests, soil, insects, all members of the animal world are in a suicidal plunge into extinction, caused primarily by human activities. Throughout the world, political and social movements have gained traction under the supposition that, if radical change does not come quickly, we face imminent starvation, chaos, and the eradication of the values that define humanity. The depths to which we must reach to bring about the restoration and regeneration of our planet are daunting. Political change must occur at national levels, but we must also work to regenerate and restore one watershed at a time.
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 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.
Hello Cruel World!
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 virus or no virus, the show must go on!
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? The Raptor Trust
looks after all avian styles, young and old. Want to guess how many they've fixed over thirty years?
Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary
reports an increased number of phone calls and admissions regarding wildlife this spring. 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....
Forces of Nature
While it may be more an article of faith and not fact, most people believe that a strawberry or a tomato hand planted and hand-picked on a small family farm tastes, feels and looks better than one grown a thousand miles away by The AgriGiant Company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. Before the advent of corporate farming, all farming was family farming. To the surprise of many, much of it still is.
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 blackpoll warbler can often be seen high up in a tree, scrambling rapidly after insects or spiders. If an insect tries to escape by flying off, the blackpoll will quickly dart after it, snatching it in mid-air flight. The blackpoll's tsit-tsit-tsit-tsit song is one of the highest pitched of all birds. (Bob Koppenhaver)
The relative quiet beneath the tree branches belies the flurry of activity above the leaf line as spring thaw brings back all those avian species that migrated to warmer climates in the fall. This year, it may in fact be noisier than usual, as wildlife may be catching a breather.
You can watch and listen
to life go on from any safe vantage point along a trail or roadside; or even your kitchen window.
is the largest order of birds and contains over 5,000, more than half, of all avian species. Passerines are generally small, and most of them perch. Many are songbirds, having evolved complex muscles to control their sound-producing organ called a syrinx, different from our vocal chords. The more you listen, the more you hear
passerine calls in all their incredible beauty and complexity.
Positive signs of spring include the first red-winged blackbirds that start staking out territories during late February and eastern phoebes that sometimes come back even before their insect dinners come out. Eastern bluebirds also become more obvious in early spring. From late April through May our diversity of habitat brings dozens of types of warblers and vireos, scarlet tanagers, northern orioles, indigo buntings, thrushes and brown thrashers into our forests.
The concentration of ridges, valleys
and wetlands in our area holds a fortune of interaction
especially worthy of your attention...
God's In Heaven
In this time of twenty-four-hour news cycles, divisive politics, never-ending wars, and exotic viruses, I find myself returning to Bonnie Brook during these precious few weeks of spring, when the woodland flowers are in bloom, the earth’s young are still filled with wonder, and the trout of Bonnie Brook are once again willing to come out and play. For this remains a time when God is in heaven and for a brief time all’s once again right with my world.
has indeed commenced, with a fresh and feisty generation of stocked rainbow trout now 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.
And here are updates
regarding this Spring's fishing season from NJ Fish and Wildlife
, as well as general advice
for COVID avoidance.
Diners have offered comfort for generations
of New Jerseyans. And it's hard to find restaurateurs that work harder than those that operate diners. We wish them well during these hard times.
Your backyard, if you are fortunate enough to have one, is now your sanctuary. 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...
In the 1940s, transportation shortages due to the war made it hard to move fruits and vegetables to market. So the government asked the American people to plant their own gardens. Twenty million gardens were planted in backyards, front yards, empty lots and rooftops. Victory Gardens, they were called. Neighbors traded cucumbers for melons and exchanged canned pumpkin for canned tomato. There was a shared sense that "whatever happens, we're in this together". Sound familiar?
How does your garden grow?
Shawna Bengivenni grows flowers to protect her organically grown garden in Wantage.
Everyone can grow their own veggies in garden plots, raised beds, deck planters or any small space. Here, experts from Rutgers Cooperative Extension New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station offer great tips on how to grow your best garden.
If you plant it, will they come?
Caterpillar of the black swallowtail, the state butterfly of New Jersey.
Insects are critical components of any natural area. Gardeners have become increasingly aware that, if we want wildlife in our gardens, we must support all life stages, year ‘round. With the fragmented state of our natural areas, wildlife relies on our gardens, yards, fields, hedgerows, and woodlots to survive. When using native plants in a landscape, we are attempting to recreate functioning ecosystems to support the wonderful wildlife that, in fact, needs us to survive.
The 336 acres at the historic Westfall Farm now afford lots of living space for a growing legion of over two hundred rescued animals that call Tamerlaine Sanctuary and Preserve their home: clucking hens, crowing roosters, quacking ducks, oinking pigs, turkeys, goats, cows, horses, and, each of them with their own unique personality and personal history.
In normal times, you can meet and interact with over 200 animal residents at this rustic oasis located at 141 Clove Road in Montague. But until Tamerlaine is able to reopen to the public, you are heartily invited to visit on a virtual tour every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm.
Join them this weekend!
Walks of Life!
Get your distance
by following any number of paths and trails in Northwest New Jersey. Stretch your legs, breath fresh air and stay strong!
Please remember that New Jersey state park offices and indoor facilities are closed, but you can access trail maps
You got the action, you got the motion!
The way to Tillman Ravine
in Stokes State Forest begins on a narrow path through a dense stand of towering bare-trunked red and white pines planted by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1932, soon followed by Eastern hemlocks over 160 years old with high, delicate foliage with only spots of greenery among their mulch of needles and bark. The path heads down to the ravine and undulates along Tillman Brook where ferns and wood asters accompany the walker. Tree species change along the stream’s path with an attendant carpet of offspring: ash, beech, oak, hickory and sugar maple.
Boulder Hops and Star Gazing
Outcrops along Jenny Jump's Summit Trail yield impressive vistas
The ancient rolling terrain of Jenny Jump Mountain
provides spectacular vistas of the Kittatinny Mountains and the Water Gap to the west, and the vast panorama of the Great Meadows to the east. A haven for those who love a hike and a good view, the Park promises special rewards for devotees of geology, astronomy, mountain biking, bird watchers, bass fishing, and all season camping.
Hikes, Bikes, and Tykes
Saxton Falls and Morris Canal lock.
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...
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...
Landscape artist St. Clair Sullivan climbs the Red Dot trail to the top of Mt. Tammany every morning that weather permits. Each day he takes a photograph and emails it home to his wife, Rita.
The liberating prospects that normally arrive with the annual vernal equinox (this evening) now seem to portend a long and difficult season, one that feels much more like winter than spring. But it doesn’t have to be entirely cold, nor completely dismal. Beat feet and get your distance
by following any number of paths and trails in Northwest New Jersey. You’ll a high concentration of those in and around the Delaware Water Gap.
Go where you've never gone before!
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA)
The Delaware Water Gap, one of New Jersey’s most impressive natural features, marks the entrance to the largest national recreation area in the eastern United States. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area surrounds much of Worthington State Park and extends 70,000 acres into Sussex County and across the river in Pennsylvania.
The area proximate to the Gap contains somewhere close to seventy miles of trails which lead hikers to breathtaking overlooks, sublime glens and ravines, rugged outcroppings, ancient copper mines, and endless hours of adventure.
- Worthington State Forest. Old Mine Road, Columbia
Some of the most rugged terrain and splendid views of northern New Jersey are found along more than 26 miles of trails within the park and over seven miles of the Appalachian Trail. Atop Kittatinny ridge, the glacial Sunfish Pond is a popular destination for hikers.
- Appalachian Trail (AT). Rt. 80 parking area, Worthington State Forest
More than seven miles of the AT within Worthington begins in a stretch to Sunfish Pond, then beyond to Millbrook Road with spectacular views.
- Dunnfield Creek. Rt. 80 parking area, Worthington State Forest
3.5 miles to Sunfish Pond through a gorgeous ravine, accentuated by serene pools and glorious forest, readily combined in a loop with the AT.
- Red Dot Trail. Rt. 80 parking area, Worthington State Forest
This 1.2 mile steady ascent traverses rocks and boulders leads to the top Mount Tammany with a panoramic view of the Delaware Water Gap at an elevation of 1,201 feet.
- Blue Blaze Trail. Rt. 80 parking area, Worthington State Forest
This 1.7 mile trail to the Tammany summit might be considered as a more gradual portion of a three-mile loop hike in combination with the Red Dot.
- Karamac. Old Mine Road, Worthington State Forest
Paralleling the Old Mine Road just north of the Gap, this former railbed along the river provides a short taste of days past in a beautiful setting, as one section passes through the site of a former resort.
- Farview (Beulahland).
Old Mine Road, Worthington State Forest
An antique mountain road, the 1.3-mile trail heads up and over the mountain, passes by an old home site or two and eventually meets the Appalachian Trail.
- Douglas Trail. Old Mine Road, Worthington State Forest
A mile up the road from State Park headquarters is the trailhead for a 2.5-mile long uphill path named in honor of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas for his part in helping to save Sunfish Pond’s natural character.
- Rockcores Trail. Old Mine Road, Worthington State Forest
Earth samples, or cores, that were extracted by geologists lie along the trail.
The 2.7-mile trail zigzags up the mountainside where still-visible borings were extracted to determine what rock layers lay beneath to test the mountain’s suitability for the ill-fated Tocks Island project in the 1960s.
- Coppermine Trail. Old Mine Road, DEWA
The 2-mile trail passes the Dutch mines dating from the 1600s for which Old Mine Road is named, through a hemlock ravine and stream, terminating at the AT, just south of the Mohican Outdoor Center.
- Rattlesnake Swamp. Mohican Outdoor Center, Mohican Road, Blairstown
Beginning at the old camp now operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the trail combines with the AT in a 4.8-mile loop around the Rattlesnake Swamp.
- Van Campens Glen. Old Mine Road,, DEWA
A short dirt lane leads to a picnic area from which hikers can follow the naturally sculpted streambed of Van Campen's Brook into the glen. Or continue to a small marked roadside parking area a little further up to hike down the glen. Either way will yield beautiful views along one of the nicest paths in New Jersey.
When the first early spring rains come, thousands of salamanders, frogs and toads emerge from their winter slumber to make short stealthy migrations through the forest to breed and lay their eggs in vernal pools. The journey is often treacherous. (Photo: MacKenzie Hall)
As the season eases into milder temperatures at the onset of spring, all manner of creatures stretch their bodies and move more freely, searching for food and mates while they patrol their home turfs. Among these creatures are some of the most rare, interesting, and beautiful animals in the Garden State. Though they often go unnoticed or are misunderstood, reptiles and amphibians are vital to the balance of our fragile ecosystems—and some of them are in pretty big trouble.
Reporting for Duty
Newborns waste no time getting ready to join the herd at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse
where they (the cows) live outside, eating grass and being milked seasonally, and not indoors
, being fed grain, animal by-products and hormones, and being milked to death. Happy cows make delicious natural cheese, the artisanal cheeses that Bobolink is known for. Take a tour this weekend and you'll find fresh Irish Soda bread at the bakery this weekend, just in time for St. Patty's festivities! 369 Stamets Rd, Milford
(Hunterdon County) 08848, 908/86GRASS