Summer, 2018

Warm greetings and best wishes for an exciting season! This is our twenty-eighth year of exploration among the hills and valleys of Northwest New Jersey. We hope you keep the personality of the New Jersey Skylands near and dear when you need to freshen your horizon!

Here are some highlights from the region's calendar of events, along with some other suggestions for you and your family.

July 12 - 19

Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands this and every week this summer. Don't wait; the days are already getting shorter!

Crafts in the Country

Wilbur's Country Store has been hosting craft fairs for 38 years. This weekend, July 14-15, 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.

Tune Up!

Lee Rocker at Centenary University in Hackettstown on Saturday.
Strut your stuff this Saturday (July 14, 8pm) as Centenary Stage Company's Summer Jamfest gets a rocking lift-off with Lee Rocker. This Bass Player Hall of Famer had much to do with the Stray Cats popularity, as his fanatic following of rockers and rebels will tell you.
Next Saturday (July 21), the George Gee Orchestra packs a lot of swing into compact songs and tight, well-organized sets: long enough to catch a groove, and short enough to catch your breath! The Jamfest continues with performances scheduled through August 11 at Centenary University's Lackland Center, 715 Grand Ave, Hackettstown. Call 908/979-0900 or click for tickets.

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-four 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 13-15) 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. Email with questions or concerns.

In Morristown, the Schuyler-Hamilton House is where Alexander Hamilton courted Betsy Schuyler during the War for Independence. Next Saturday (July 21), Patricia Sanftner, a member of the local D.A.R., and curator of the Schuyler-Hamilton House, will guide a walking tour through Morristown visiting sites associated with Alexander Hamilton’s stay here in 1777 and 1779-80. The tour is one of several planned for this summer by the Morris County Tourism Bureau.

Short Walks on the Long Trail

The Appalachian Trail, which stretches over two thousand miles from Georgia to Maine, enters New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap, heads north along the Kittatinny Ridge to High Point, then east through the Pochuck Valley. The 72-mile New Jersey section is mostly undeveloped, and striking panoramas -- comparable to those in the Blue Ridge, Berkshire, and White Mountains, even the fabled Great Smokies -- are not uncommon along this rugged and remote section of trail. You can explore the midsection of New Jersey's Appalachian Trail as it traverses two of our most celebrated state parks — High Point and Stokes Forest — and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, along a 45-mile route along the Kittatinny Ridge through Sussex and Warren counties. Country lanes or park roads every few miles intersect the entire stretch so that you can plan any number of modest day hikes along the AT. Or take a couple of days to walk the whole distance. Elevation in this section ranges from 350 to 1,685 feet, and, if you prefer to walk downhill most of the time, hike north to south. You can conquer the Trail this summer by taking these suggested day hikes.

Twilight Time

Craters of the moon, photographed from 238,855 miles away at the UACNJ site in Jenny Jump State Forest by Wolfgang Damm, NWJAA.

What better occupation on a serene summer evening than to star gaze? The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey (UACNJ) facilities in Jenny Jump State Forest, near Hope in Warren County, are 1,100 feet above sea level, one of the few dark sky locations left in the state. And at Voorhees State Park in Glen Gardner, the New Jersey Astronomical Association has installed a 26-inch Newtonian reflector telescope, one of the largest privately owned telescopes in New Jersey.
But there's more than stars in the sky. How about fireflies? Experience their magic at this Friday's Firefly Festival at Duke Farms! It's free, but please register in advance.


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.

Forward Thinking!

   
   

Tickets to ride!

       

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 Summer Music at the Barn series kicks off this Saturday evening (June 30, 6pm) with the Eric Mintel Quartet featuring Nelson Hill. Come enjoy this ensemble of accomplished jazz players as they make the old barn sound great again. 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.

And look forward to Saturday evenings, July 14 - August 11, when the Centenary Stage Company brings Summer Jamfest to Hackettstown with four shows that feature all facets of popular music. First up is Lee Rocker.

On Sunday evenings, bring lawn chairs and a picnic supper to Oxford for free Shippen Manor Lawn Concerts. This week, The Lost Ramblers bring the acoustic sounds of Appalachia to NJ.

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.

The beautiful historic gardens of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown will be the backdrop for a superb line up of musicians on Sunday afternoons at 2pm. This week (July 1), The Kootz will kick up the summer heat with your favorite Rock 'n' Roll. 973/538-2404

Every other Tuesday at 12:30pm, Music Beyond Borders graces the Green in Morristown with sounds from around the world. On July 10, BALAM Dance Theatre promises an especially delightful lunch hour. 973/285-5115

The Hunterdon Symphony opens the 42nd annual Music Under The Stars series, tonight (June 28). 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. Next week, (July 6) the Richard Reiter Swing Band will entertain.


Ash at the Edge

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

The Longest Day

Summertime adventure is easy to find on a back country road.
The summer solstice is today (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!

Your Neighbor's Cow

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

Paradise Lost, and Found

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

Go Daddy Go!

Dads love to paddle, and the Delaware River is the place to do it! Islands of the Delaware are markers for the miles traversed on a float down the river, and for centuries of human history along its banks. By canoe, kayak, raft or tube, river trips are about perfect this time of year. The water is high, the flow is brisk, and the summer crowds have not yet arrived.
In the Delaware Water Gap area, Adventure Sports is a great choice for a canoe, kayak or raft trip. (Click for a discount here.)
Or Chamberlain Canoes for one or multi-day trips for individuals and groups of any size. (Click for a discount here.)
The river becomes more tranquil as it continues south. Just south of Frenchtown, Bucks County River Country has provided family fun for more than fifty years -- kayaking, canoeing, and rafting and tubing! (Catch the deal of the day here!)

Camp Skylands!

Cabins are now available at most campgrounds.
Campgrounds in the Skylands account for a huge amount of fun. Over 500,000 campers relax and enjoy the rural character of Northwest New Jersey each year. Most of these visits come in summer; short overnight or weekend camping trips. But many families make a Skylands campground their own vacation home, renting seasonal sites or bringing their own RV to rest at a lovely -- and well-serviced -- spot somewhere up in the New Jersey countryside. These facilities are a long way from generic trailer hookups and tent sites. Take a drive or click away and check one out soon; the Fourth of July is just around the corner! What dad wouldn't enjoy hanging around the campfire, testing marshmallows and telling stories
  • Camp Taylor Campground
    Camp Taylor offers a wilderness atmosphere with the security and services that public areas often lack, with access to a swimming lake and trails that lead hikers through strikingly beautiful forest to mountain laurel atop a 1600 foot ridge. Seasonal Sites, Tenters, RV rental, Cabins near the Delaware Water Gap. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. 85 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4333
  • Harmony Ridge Campground
    Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest. There are over 200 sites and many activities to choose from; a large pavilion, playground, game courts, swimming pool, paddle boats. The friends and memories you make here will last a lifetime. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973-948-4941
  • Tall Timbers Campground and Recreational Community
    The private campground community offers central water and sewage disposal, two pools with certified lifeguards and a private stocked lake perfect for fishing, and an exceptional recreation program and activities for all. The northern Sussex County location is close to High Point State Park, Action Park and Mountain Creek Ski Area. 100 Tall Timbers Rd, Sussex 07461, 973/875-1991
  • TripleBrook Family Camping Resort
    Park yourself on a 250 acre farm tucked away in the legendary Kittatinny Mountains. Spend the season steps away from an Olympic size pool, heated whirlpool spa, private lake, tennis courts, and fully stocked camp store. You'll have time to explore all the natural attractions in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation a few miles away, or the Pocono Mountains. There's also an open air pavilion available for weddings, picnics, retreats. 58 Honey Run Rd., Hope, 908/459-4079.
  • Kymer's Camping Resort
    Trailer and cabin rentals and trailer and tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on 200 scenic acres. 69 Kymer Rd., Branchville, 800/543-2056
  • Delaware River Family Campground
    Enjoy raft, canoe, kayak or tube trips, trailer and tent campsites as well as trailer and cabin rentals. 100 Route 46, Columbia, 800/543-2056
  • Panther Lake Camping Resort
    Camp on a private 45-acre lake on 160 scenic acres where you can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing or just relaxing on a sandy beach. 6 Panther Lake Rd., Andover, 800/543-2056
  • The Great Divide Campground
    Private, family friendly campground with amenities for tents, RVs and seasonal guests. Fully furnished cabin rentals available. Heated pool, fishing & boating lake, playground, planned events and activities. 68 Phillips Road, Newton, 973/383-4026

Plan Ahead!

       

Stranger in a Strange Land

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

Packed to the Rafters

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

Major Scales

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

Power Plants

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

Take a Float on the Wild Side!

Heading upstream through the Refuge from Bassetts Bridge, the Wallkill is a corridor of beauty.
The Wallkill River shares with great rivers like the Nile and the Rhine the peculiarity of northward flow. From out of Lake Mohawk, it spills over a dam then becomes a stream, bubbling and rushing fast, seeming most determined to be free.

Big Bucks

If you like to hike in New Jersey, chances are you know Worthington State Forest. But few of the hikers, campers, canoeists, and nature lovers that visit Worthington realize that industrial pumps are responsible for the preserved wilderness and natural wonders that they enjoy there. Charles C. Worthington, a prominent and very wealthy New York socialite, sportsman, fisherman, and skilled rifleman, assembled this park in the late nineteenth century. He called it Buckwood Park. More...

Hacklebarney Heaven

Hacklebarney State Park is 892 acres of glacial valley, with gorges carved by the Black River and two tributaries that feed it, the Rinehart and Trout Brooks. The dogs play and we talk in celebration of meeting in these Robin Hood woods. We stand on outcrops jutting over the river and gaze in awe at the grass, moss and seedlings living in the rocks brought here long ago. Walk on...

On A Beach

Tomahawk Lake
Don't miss the 66th opening weekend at Tomahawk Lake Waterpark in Sparta. Visitors have always loved the immaculate sand bottom sloping gently out to floating rafts. Since those old days, the park has added a mountain of water slides including the “The Apache Plunge”, a 610 foot mammoth flume raft ride for four people along with “Sitting Bull“, a serpentine double flume body slide and “Crazy Horse” racing slide. Back ashore you can visit a large refreshment stand, outdoor beer garden (with live weekend entertainment), an ice cream trailer, a novelty trailer, an arcade, an 18 hole miniature golf course, a putting green and a ball field. For information call the lake office at (973) 398-7777 or check their website.

Visit The Wild Woods This Summer!

The Flatbrook-Roy
Got the secret desire to be an explorer? Envy Indiana Jones? Ever yearn for the excitement of bushwhacking through uncharted lands? Adventure is yours, right here in New Jersey. Discover over 305,000 acres of little known forests, meadows, streams, and lakes collectively called Wildlife Management Areas - all public property, all owned by the people of New Jersey. This land is your land!

Planet Jersey!

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

Whole Lotta Love

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

Wedding Bell Bliss

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

History You Can Taste

Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum.
Although they produce varieties of just about any fruit or vegetable you can think of, heirloom seeds are probably best known for the great tasting tomatoes that they grow. Heirloom seeds, which have been passed down over generations, not only produce the same delicious produce that your forbears ate, but also preserve the natural variety essential to a healthy system. Modern agriculture has already resulted in the loss of 75% of the world’s edible plant varieties. You can learn more about heirlooms and New Jersey's glorious farming past with a visit to the Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum, open this weekend! 82 Delaware Rd., Columbia.