Autumn, 2017

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

October 19 - 26

Glory Days!

The Kittatinny ridge near Crater Lake.
Indian Summer is sweet and short. Chilly days and barren limbs are not far ahead, so get out your camera and hit the road, lined with good things to do and colorful panoramas for leaf peepers. Check our calendar for local tricks and treats.

The Franklin Marble

The wilds of Sparta Mountain begin at Ryker Lake.
The sustained productivity of the Sparta Mountain iron mines, which began in the late 1700s, attracted the attention of Thomas Edison, who built a massive experimental plant to process iron ore and a namesake village in 1889. Today, the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) includes thousands of acres managed cooperatively by the New Jersey Audubon Society and the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife. The result is an extensive network of trails that beckon outdoor lovers in search of birds and other wildlife, hikers looking for challenging terrain, hunters and fishers, photographers pursuing remote panoramas and seasonal color, or explorers tracking the signs and scars of historical endeavors. Gear up!

Trickle Down

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

Big Skylands Country

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

Learning Hibernia

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

Fields of Fun!

      




Foliated Again!

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

Harvest Kings

The Fall Harvest Festival at Country Fresh Farm is right on time this weekend (Oct. 14-15). This long-established family farm knows what kids like, with pumpkin picking, hayrides, farm animals, games, prizes, special costumed guests both days, noon - 4pm. And there's plenty to eat with apples, cider donuts, burgers and hot dogs, and more mums and fresh produce to take home. The farm is located just south of Washington at 70 W. Asbury-Anderson Road in Hampton. 908/537-9009 or check their Facebook for complete details!

Friday the Thirteenth

These stately buildings may be best known to many as the setting for the 1980 horror film that, for millions of movie viewers, made Jason Voorhees Blairstown's most famous resident. But this triumvirate—the National Bank, Water Works and Old Mill—lends a certain gravitas to the village of Blairstown in keeping with the prominence of its namesake, John I. Blair. Despite his accomplishment as one of the world's wealthiest men, Blair, known to townsfolk as "plain John I.", sustained a simple, unembellished lifestyle in his beloved village. The area's extraordinary heritage is in large part due to the fact that his ambition, and his ideas that flourished throughout America originated here in the New Jersey frontier. You can follow this virtual trail through the places where John Blair learned to make his way!
As on every Friday the 13th, the town will celebrate its cinematic notoriety this Friday with multiple showings of the film. But if you really want to know a thing or two about Blairstown, as well as a treasure chest of movie memorabilia, the Blairstown Museum would be the place to start. A fun and creative endeavor indeed, especially this Friday, at 26 Main Street. Click or call 908/362-1371
More spirits will be in attendance at the Madison Garden Club's 95th anniversary event on Friday the 13th: the memories of the people who made Madison The Rose City!

The Hunt For Orange October!

Van Campen Inn on Old Mine Road in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
A casual stop at the Isaac Van Campen House (or Van Campen Inn) blossoms effortlessly into a full day of exploration and discovery. The Inn is among the most prominent "official” destinations along the Old Mine Road, but it is not at all apparent how many features actually wait here for discovery. You can find out this Sunday (Oct. 15) during Van Campen Day when costumed re-enactors and the demonstration of Colonial crafts such as spinning, woodworking, blacksmithing, chair caning, lace making and cider pressing will revive those old days. You'll also be able to tour a former fort and cemetery, as well as the Van Campen Inn itself. A special day in a special place!

Roadside Attractions

The restored Nesbitt's Mill in Mendham is open for public visitation.
By the time the mill at Ralston squeezed its first drop of cider, the brandy industry in New Jersey was more than 130 years old, having begun in Morris County in 1773. Of all the cider mills in New Jersey, Nesbitt's is the only survivor. The mill is open for public visitation and demonstration on October weekends. More...


Find Your Way

The American tradition of discovery is on display this Columbus Day weekend, with eyepopping events all over the region. Check our calendar and take your choice! No better time than this weekend to pay your road dues, stuffed with good things to do and colorful panoramas for leaf peepers. Sometimes the quickest way to find something new is to jump in the car and Get Lost! Let those fall colors guide you to good times!

Love Story

The everyday appearance of the Schuyler-Hamilton House, located next to a gas station in a plain Morristown neighborhood, belies the spirit of American legend that thrives inside.
In Morristown, the Schuyler-Hamilton House is where Alexander and Eliza Hamilton met and courted during the War for Independence. The huge success of the Broadway play, Hamilton, has made the house a very popular place to visit. You can sidestep the crowds and enjoy a special lecture and house tour this Saturday (Oct. 7) and next (Oct. 14) 10 - 11:30am. Find out more and reserve your spot with the Morris County Tourism Bureau.

Harvest Kings

Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, where they produce grass-fed beef and make artisanal cheeses and wood fired breads, is also a wonderful place for a late summer afternoon of music, dancing, and food. You can take a guided tour of this multi-faceted farm and see how it's done! The full tour takes about an hour, and includes a cheese tasting. Reserve your spot here, and look forward to an informative trip to 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.


The Hunt For Orange October!

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

Stay and Play!

      

OctoberFest!

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

Paths of Honor

The Farm In Harmony and a new corn maze.
What would October be without a walk through a corn maze? But just think about what farmers need to do to make one! Plant the right kind of corn, with high strong stalks. Plant later than usual and don’t crowd the plants. Fertilize so you minimize actual grain (corn) production. Plan and cut the pathways. Then if everything works out, get pople to the gate!
There’s a new corn maze in town, a little off the beaten path at The Farm In Harmony (Warren County). Seven acres big (that would be about 140,000 corn stalks), the maze has almost four miles of trail to get lost on. The most interesting part is it’s military theme, cut in the shape of the familiar POW/MIA flag emblem. Here is a birds eye view.
There’s also a mini-maze for the little ones that highlights six different characters or events of the Revolutionary War. Read more about the maze here and plan a visit soon! Always discounts for veterans. The Farm in Harmony is just of Route 519 at 231 Brainards Road. Click or call 908-386-2925.

Island Paradise

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. River trips are about perfect this time of year, especially since the weather has been so warm, and the summer crowds have dispersed. Have a picnic!
In the Delaware Water Gap area, Adventure Sports
or Chamberlain Canoes are great choices for a canoe, kayak or raft trip. The river becomes more tranquil as it continues south. Just south of Frenchtown, Bucks County River Country has provided family fun for fifty years -- kayaking, canoeing, and rafting and tubing!

Pequest Pilgrims

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

High Maintenance

Overshadowed by traffic, the tall iron arch at the foot of the high hill along on Route 53 signals something special. It announces a name in bright letters: Mount Tabor. For many passersby what lies beyond remains a mystery, but, as it turns out, there’s a reward for the curious. Above that gate, perched on a hillside, a tiny treasure hides in plain sight. Named for a biblical mountain near the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor is an architectural adventure—full of Victorian cottages sporting period paints and gingerbread, with a colorful history to match. Anytime is a good time for a walk through Mt. Tabor. But this Saturday's Annual House Tour makes it extra special.

Explore the Wonders!

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

Ready, Get Set...

      


Down To Earth

The fluorescent minerals, second- to-none in the world, are one of the feature attractions in the Franklin Mineral Museum. You'll understand why Franklin is known as the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World!
When operators in the first Franklin zinc mines turned on the power, miners noticed that the rocks around them burst into color. It was the spark that emitted from the switch’s contact, rich in ultraviolet light, that exposed their fluorescent quality for which Franklin would become world famous. By the late 1950s, collectors had begun to gather at mineral swapping events sponsored by the Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society. In 1960 the Franklin Kiwanis Club decided to install a permanent exhibit in an old powerhouse. The exhibit was the beginning of the Franklin Mineral Museum, which opened its doors in 1965. More...

Denville Detour

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

Both Sides Now

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

Rooms With A View!

Camping doesn't have to end with the summer. In fact campgrounds make a perfect home base for most outdoor fall activities such as leaf peeping, bird and wildlife watching, hunting and fishing, simply because they've got "location, location, location."
  • Camp Taylor Campground
    Camp Taylor offers a wilderness atmosphere with the security and services that public areas often lack, with access to a swimming lake and trails that lead hikers through strikingly beautiful forest to mountain laurel atop a 1600 foot ridge. Seasonal Sites, Tenters, RV rental, Cabins near the Delaware Water Gap. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. 85 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4333
  • Harmony Ridge Campground
    Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest. There are over 200 sites and many activities to choose from; a large pavilion, playground, game courts, swimming pool, paddle boats. The friends and memories you make here will last a lifetime. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973-948-4941
  • Triple Brook Family Camping Resort
    Park yourself on a 250 acre farm tucked away in the legendary Kittatinny Mountains. Spend the season steps away from an Olympic size pool, heated whirlpool spa, private lake, tennis courts, and fully stocked camp store. You'll have time to explore all the natural attractions in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation a few miles away, or the Pocono Mountains. There's also an open air pavilion available for weddings, picnics, retreats. 58 Honey Run Rd., Hope, 908/459-4079.
  • Kymer's Camping Resort
    Trailer and cabin rentals and trailer and tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on 200 scenic acres. 69 Kymer Rd., Branchville, 800/543-2056
  • Delaware River Family Campground
    Enjoy raft, canoe, kayak or tube trips, trailer and tent campsites as well as trailer and cabin rentals. 100 Route 46, Columbia, 800/543-2056
  • Panther Lake Camping Resort
    Camp on a private 45-acre lake on 160 scenic acres where you can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing or just relaxing on a sandy beach. 6 Panther Lake Rd., Andover, 800/543-2056

Plan Ahead!

      


Don't Miss A Thing!

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

Bushels of Fun

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

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 fall, 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...

Skylands Prime

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

More lodging and dining...

Plan Ahead!

      


Primetime!

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

Three Hundred Years of Solitude

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

Hikes, Bikes, and Tykes

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

Eyes Wide Open

A bobcat prowls the wilds at Crystal Springs. (Phone pict sent by Cathy Weeks.)
Should you traverse any stretch of woods, or even your backyard, alert eyes are usually rewarded. Coyotes have become commonplace, and more and more people are reporting bobcats in their presence! Check the reports at the end of our story and you'll see how widespread they've become, thanks to persistent conservation efforts. Or, to follow the Wiley One, click here. And watch out below for turtles!

Pick Your Own!

      

 


Field Guide

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

Path to Discovery

Stonebridge Road in Stillwater.
Strolling along the Paulinskill Valley Trail is a fine way to spend a late summer day. With access points and parking spaces in many places along this 27-mile soft dirt-cinder path, you can stroll at leisure or pick up the pace as you wish. You can also explore off trail and discover hidden gems of nature, history and the early culture of coal, commerce and railroads. The trail is flat, easy and comfortable for walkers, bicyclists, horse-back riders.

Meant For Meandering

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

Skylands Prime

Built in 1905 by the Justice of the Peace of Stanhope, the Whistling Swan Inn, a Queen Anne Victorian home, was restored to its original glory and converted to a bed and breakfast in 1985. Beautiful tiger oak fretwork and columns frame the two Victorian parlors, and perfect craftsmanship continues throughout the inn's nine luxurious guest rooms. A variety of romantic packages make the Whistling Swan the perfect getaway, close to Waterloo Village, Lake Hopatcong, Chester, Andover and Lafayette, horseback riding, hiking and biking. 110 Main Street, Stanhope. 973/347-6369

Wings and a Prayer

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

Wildlife Tracking

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

A Bubblin' Crude

Discovering oil in New Jersey is not usually the happy occasion it may be in other parts of the world. Most often, it means trouble. But the problems discovered a few years ago in Newfoundland, had an interesting history. The first major oil pipeline in the United States, built by the Standard Oil Company, ran from Olean, New York to Bayonne, crossing Sussex and Morris Counties in the New Jersey Highlands, with a total capacity of over 50,000 barrels a day. More...

The Shape You're In

AT hikers look out over Warren County.
Got a couple of days coming to you? How about walking the Appalachian Trail through New Jersey? You can do this!

Bringing it all back home

Smadar English, Judy von Handorf, Hannah Hobbs, McKenna Oettinger, Sister Miriam MacGillis, and Linda Keirnan at Genesis Farm in Blairstown
Women make up twenty-two percent of New Jersey's 15,936-plus farmers, and their rate is steadily increasing (USDA Census). They come with ideals and energy to make the world a better place. They earn a living being outdoors doing what they love, and they come to educate. They all come with grit, knowledge and spirit. Meet a couple...

Farm and Function

Main gallery and event space downstairs in the farmhouse.
Adaptive reuse of historic structures that otherwise may have long disappeared from our landscape is gratifying. Farmstead Arts, located on the grounds of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead, is much more than a vestige of Bernards Township’s rural past. Today, the eighteenth century farmstead, which is listed on the Federal and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, is a vibrant arts center and serves as a model for adaptive reuse of an historic treasure. The schedule of concerts, theater, workshops, and other special events is sure to provide ample reason for a visit! 450 King George Road in Basking Ridge, 908/636-7576.

Rock A Bye Baby

The Rockaway Valley Railroad was about 25 miles long and lasted for about 25 years. It was constructed primarily to ship peaches, and although it also saw other freight and passenger traffic, Hunterdon County orchard owners were responsible for the railroad's commencement in 1888. Record peach crops kept the railroad afloat in the 1890s, even as the financial picture for the company clouded. Unfortunately, before the little railroad had an opportunity to turn a profit, the peaches were infected with blight, and the Hunterdon orchards passed their prime. The Little Railroad That Couldn't lives on, if only for hikers, cyclists and patrons of local lore. Take a walk and imagine the slow moving locomotive rocking back and forth on its way through the countryside.

Skylands Prime!

A Bedminster destination for 31 years (formerly Lamington General Store) located in a restored 1890's general store, Lamington Lifestyles offers two floors brimming with home decor, unique gifts, women's apparel, baby gifts, jewelry and artwork... some designed by over 80 American artisans. The store specialty is custom farm tables. 285 Lamington Rd., Bedminster, 908/ 439-2034.

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. In Morristown, the Schuyler-Hamilton House is where Alexander Hamilton courted Betsy Schuyler during the War for Independence. On Saturday (July 15), 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.
For the past forty-three 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.

The nature of preservation

The eight miles of trails at the Schiff Nature Preserve in Mendham Township are generous with beautiful vistas, challenging terrain, and a variety of natural habitats. The preserve, which encompasses over 300 acres in this historic river valley, has a history as vast and expansive as its terrain. Knowing the stories of those who walked these trails before - from Native Americans, to Revolutionary War heroes, to Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America - will embellish your trip. And visitors can be confident in the stewardship at the preserve that will usher it into the future.

Skylands Prime

This magnificent sculpture, entitled Migration of Golden Plovers, is carved from walnut, and 37 inches long. The carvers, Dave and Mary Ahrendt of Hackensack, Minn., are two of dozens of world-renown wildlife artists represented at the Decoys and Wildlife Gallery in Frenchtown. The hundreds of original paintings and carvings that reside at the gallery comprise a collection that invites personal presence, rather than casual on-line review. Skylands Prime! 55 Bridge Street, Frechtown, 1-888-996-6501

Northbound

Father and son look out from Sunrise Mountain.
Chances are, you're going to find yourself traveling on Rt. 206 through Sussex County on the way to your favorite campground, park or event sometime this summer. Slow down long enough for a brief detour through the old-time borough of Branchville, a bit above Newton. Just one-half square mile large, it is packed with history and interesting people -- where contemporary meets traditional. Surrounded by mountains and glacial lakes, farms, wineries, campgrounds, state parks and forests, Branchville and its nearby country pleasures are worth a visit.
The restored Jacobus Vanderveer House
The Pluckemin Cantonment tells one of the great overlooked stories of the American Revolution. Hidden atop Shley Mountain, in Bedminster until the summer of 1966, the story of General Henry Knox and America's first military academy is now documented in his restored former home, the Jacobus Vanderveer House. Read more...

The Mighty Musky

The Asbury Mill will soon be restored as an interpretive center for the Musconetcong Watershed Association.
The Musconetcong River runs forty-two miles down from Lake Hopatcong to the Delaware River. But in that brief distance, the river and its valley describe, for better or worse, the evolution of modern American culture in the advance of agriculture, transportation and industry. Exploration of the valley is never short on delightful surprises, and deserves to be on your summer itinerary. The village of Asbury is a good place to begin.

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 by taking these suggested day hikes.

Skylands By Saddle

Riding is a partnership!
In a land crisscrossed by interstates, punctuated with traffic lights, and clogged with cars, it’s easy to overlook how much northwestern New Jersey territory you can still cover on a horse. Through warm summer months and into fall, you can explore rivers, streams, fields, and hills and enjoy remote views and vistas—all from the saddle. Across the Skylands region, a horse can take you where no car can—faster and sometimes farther afield than your own two feet. Exercise? Certainly. But also the pleasure of working with a 1,000-pound companion who can handle the footwork. Saddle up!

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...

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...

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.

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.

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.

In the mist

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.

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.

In the Zone

The immense Boehm Barn, too large to move to Millbrook Village for preservation, still stands in the woods above Old Mine Road, just northeast of Poxono island.
Since the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA), observed its fiftieth anniversary in 2015, the park staff has been busy soliciting public comment in order to formulate operational parameters for the future. The plan to address the fate of seven-hundred historic structures that still stand within the park's boundary is now underway, establishing priorities for those that hold any promise for the coming years. DEWA has made a list and map available to help the public evaluate those sites, which also makes a great planner for early spring hikes. Download the map and bring it along to search out some of these places; most won't make the cut. This time of year is perfect, before the prickly invasive multi-flora rosa completely chokes the woods. But take all protection against ticks if you get off the beaten track.

Find Your Furnace

It is not difficult to track down the Andover mine's location. But beware that the property is private and that trespassing is prohibited.
What's in a name? As far back as the early 1700s the name Andover was used by the Penns, owners of a large tract here granted to them by the Proprietors, to refer to the whole general area in Sussex County. Over the years, various sites have borne the Andover name, including local iron mines, forges, furnaces, factories and settlements with a connection with these early iron interests. More...

Landmarks

Bill's Luncheonette, the repository and symbol of Ironia’s heritage.
In "Lower Ironia", Main Street still exists today. It is a small residential roadway to nowhere... unless one is familiar with the history. Today, the former railroad bed, from the location of the Ironia station and through to the Chester station, is part of the Morris County Park System's Patriot's Path. Additional trails connect through the Black River Wildlife Management Area and up to Bill's General Store. More...

A Silk Purse

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

Along the Western Front

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

Learning Lenape

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

Comments

b krauss
24 Mar 2016, 13:44
You are my all time favorite local magazine & newsletter!!!!! Loved each issue. Such a feeling of community, nature, and wonder.
We've moved out of the area & are passing along copies of your magazine to the new owners of our home.
Please remove my name from your email list for the newsletter.
Much success in the future.
Thanks so much for the glorious entertainment !
Barbara.











Rebecca Seamon
09 Jun 2013, 07:49
Blairstown Dog Park in Warren County NJ to hold Grand Opening.\r\n\r\nThe Blairstown Dog Park located on Lambert Road in Blairstown plans to have a Grand Opening Celebration on June 22 from 10am until 12pm. Rain date is June 23. \r\n\r\nThe Grand Opening Celebration will feature a dog costume contest, giveaways, food, fun and instant membership with completed form and proof of vaccines.\r\n\r\nWhat began as a small idea in November 2010 has finally turned into a reality. With a land donation from the township, the Blairstown Dog Park is a large, 1-acre fenced in area where people can bring their dogs to socialize and run off leash. It was completely funded and run by volunteers and generous donations.\r\n\r\nOpen to anyone, members must first complete a membership form and show proof of license and vaccines. A membership fee also applies.\r\n\r\nThe Blairstown Dog Park is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. For more information and forms- www.blairstowndogpark.com. Membership forms are also available at the Blairstown Library and Municipal building. \r\n
Ray Kleban
26 May 2013, 04:35
Hi, how do I reach out to someone at skylands to post a notice of an event - a fundraiser in sussex county? Is there a charge?\r\n\r\nthank you in advance \r\nray kleban
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