Summer, 2021

Warm greetings and best wishes for a year marked by renewed health and sanity. This will be our thirty-first 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.

June 17 - 24

The Longest Day

Busy times in summer gardens!
The summer solstice is on Sunday (June 20), the day with more sunshine than any other! Good thing; you'll need all that sunshine to celebrate Father's Day! Take Dad by the hand and show him all that Northwest New Jersey has to offer this and every day of the splendid season. Choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities throughout the region. Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands; summer starts now!

Picky Dads

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 a Father's Day treat, 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!

Dancing Dads

Music-loving dads won't want to miss the Arts, Crafts and Music Festival on Saturday (June 19) 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 while 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, 908/689-4800.

Fishing Dads

Many of our rivers and streams, seasonally stocked with trout, also support year-round resident populations of smallmouth bass. The Paulinskill, Flatbrook Wallkill, Pequest, Musconetcong, and others are all destinations for smallmouth fishers. Fly fishing for bass in the summer is a great way to get on the water when it gets too hot for trout. Watching a bass explode on your popper is one of the most exhilarating feelings in freshwater fly fishing. Treat your dad to a guided fly fishing excursion!

Aerobic Dads

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!

Outdoor Dads!

Cabins are now available at most campgrounds.
What dad wouldn't enjoy hanging around the campfire, tasting marshmallows and telling stories?
  • Camp Taylor Campground
    Camp Taylor offers a wilderness atmosphere with the security and services that public areas often lack, with access to a swimming lake and trails that lead hikers through strikingly beautiful forest to mountain laurel atop a 1600 foot ridge. Seasonal Sites, Tenters, RV rental, Cabins near the Delaware Water Gap. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve. 85 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Columbia, 908/496-4333
  • Harmony Ridge Campground
    Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest. There are over 200 sites and many activities to choose from; a large pavilion, playground, game courts, swimming pool, paddle boats. The friends and memories you make here will last a lifetime. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973/948-4941
  • Kymer's Camping Resort
    Trailer and cabin rentals and trailer and tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on 200 scenic acres. 69 Kymer Rd., Branchville, 800/526-2267
  • 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

Alive and Well!

Bob Thompson
Feeling your oats? Here comes the sun, so take advantage of a schedule full of intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. How can you complain?

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...

Folk on the water

Preparing a meal aboard a Morris Canal boat. More boat people...
From the earliest timber rafts on the Delaware River, to the sophisticated technology of the Morris Canal, inland watercraft have played an important part in Northwest New Jersey's history.
You can learn more about this fascinating part of our heritage along the Morris Canal Greenway, a continuously expanding project to preserve the 102-mile route of the Morris Canal across New Jersey. By connecting points of interest along the canal throughout local communities and serving as a corridor of open space across northern NJ, the Greenway offers a unique educational, travel, and recreational experience along the historic towpath trail. You can plan your trip by referring to a handy collection of downloadable brochures from the Canal Society of New Jersey, each tailored to a specific destination along the former canal route.

Memorial Day

The graves of fourteen United States Colored Troops at Evergreen Cemetery
Though better known for its role in the Revolutionary War, Morristown has a surprisingly rich connection with America’s “Second Revolution,” the Civil War. When the call for enlistments went out in the North, and Morristown proudly answered, raising over 100 local volunteers to form Company K of the 7th New Jersey Regiment. The regiment’s commander was Joseph Warren Revere, grandson of Paul Revere, and Company K would receive a grand send-off on the Morristown Green before joining the 7th NJ and their sister regiments to form the 2nd New Jersey Brigade which fought on some of the bloodiest battlefields in this country’s history.

There are somewhere around 1,200 historical markers in New Jersey, 500 of them in the Northwest Skylands region. Many are monuments to war veterans from all eras and in all sizes. They all commemorate a part of our history, and often remind us of courageous men and women who have served our country. More...

En masse production

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 spring afternoon of music, dancing, and food. This Sunday (May 30), Na'bodach - The Band, six fabulous musicians, plus electricity, produce Celtic music for the modern masses. And there will be good food for the masses as well! Reserve soon, as attendance is limited to make sure that we can distance comfortably. Please plan to wear a mask while purchasing your food, and bring blankets, lawn chairs, and umbrellas. 4 - 6:30pm. $10. 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.

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, (May 29-30, 1 - 4pm) 82 Delaware Rd., Columbia. 908/475-2730

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!

Old Man and the Pond

These days, even fishin’ from my heavy-duty, extra-large Cabela’s chair is limited to lakes where I have a smooth – and short – path from my truck to the water’s edge. One thing will never change, however — I still love fishin’. Love it, love it, love it!


Planet Jersey

No space for a garden? Not to worry. Lettuce can grow in planters and pots, in a window box, on a roof garden, terrace, “square foot garden,” herb garden, flower bed or raised bed. And it’s packed with nutrients (even Iceberg!) and practically devoid of calories.
Memorial Day is around the corner, as May approaches its verdant peak. Is your garden in? Anyone can grow their own veggies in garden plots, raised beds, deck planters or any small space. It saves money , it's good for you and it's fun! Learn how to get the most out of your earth by examining Mary's best (and easiest) veggie garden primer. How does your garden grow? Or check these tips about growing your own Victory Garden!
When you're done planting, take advantage of a calendar budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or check our Day Trip Map for good ideas for a Sunday drive! For the more aerobically inclined can choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

Count the Ways!

Landscape artist St. Clair Sullivan climbs the Red Dot trail to the top of Mt. Tammany every morning that weather permits.
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!

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 is fighting for survival in our area 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 spring. More...

Slip Sliding Away

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

Earthly Delights

This photograph, entered by Dorota Jansiewicz in the annual Friends of Great Swamp Photo Contest depicts the Great Swamp’s magical landscape and the barred owl (also known as the swamp owl).
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. Friends of Great Swamp was established in 1999 to provide assistance and support to Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge through volunteer efforts and the funding of programs and projects to benefit wildlife and refuge visitors. 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.

Healthy Attitudes

Frank Dale (right) and Len Frank on an expedition to White Lake.
In 1996, Rutgers University Press published a book called Delaware Diary, a collection of episodes in the life of the river over two centuries of European settlement. The book’s author, Frank Dale, was undoubtedly as pleased as I was impressed by a profusion of positive published reviews. I was equally pleased when I shook Frank’s large hand at an event where he was selling autographed copies, and he eagerly offered his writing services for our skinny little magazine. After a long career in business, he had begun to write, mainly about Warren County history and outdoor recreation, which formed the basis for no less than twenty stories for our publication between 1997 and 2003.
Dale was completely committed to his craft. Soon after I met him, Frank suffered a stroke, and I visited him at his Panther Valley home where he was rapidly bouncing back under the watchful eye of his wife, Diana. The subject came up of relocating to Florida, where Diana wanted to move to be close to her children living there. Frank resisted. “Not me,” he said. “People go to Florida to die.” Frank spent several winters later in the environs of a campground trailer, with only a propane heater and thin metal walls to protect against the chilly Jersey winds that so many us yearn to escape at the end of our working lives. At age seventy, Dale was just getting started, rolling out a series of thirty-six booklets that made up the Warren County Chronicles, as well as another full-length book about bridges along the Delaware River. After each booklet was completed at a local printer, Frank would load them in his car trunk and take them to displays he had placed at dozens of stores and shops where patrons could buy them. They are all available at the Warren County Library, where Dale spent many hours researching his chronicles.
In between, Frank churned out stories on his vintage word processor for our readers about Warren County, and also about the wild and scenic Walpack countryside, the lower Musconetcong Valley, the, Tewksbury and Oldwick, day hikes on the Appalachian Trail, historic mills, the last of the old-time trappers, and dozens of profiles about historical societies and organizations throughout the region. Dale’s work always reflected careful research from primary sources, but his real talent was making history accessible to most anyone. His well-honed folksy style turned complex and sometimes obscure topics into easy, friendly reading.
In 2015, Frank finally retired to Florida. He passed away the next year at the age of ninety-one.

Walking Points

Jockey Hollow
Len and Erica Frank walked together for more than sixty years; solemates to say the least. They met in 1947 as members of a University of Wisconsin outdoor club called Hoofers, whose faculty advisor was the son of a contemporary of conservationist and Sierra Club founder John Muir.
Len Frank, another long time friend of Northwest New Jersey's heritage and outdoor spaces, recently passed away on January 17 at the ripe old age of 96. He introduced himself to the Skylands Visitor back in 1998 when he was about the age of about 72, a stage of life by which a good portion of us have hung up our serious hiking shoes. He wanted to tell the story of how the Paulinskill Valley Trail came to be. Len and his late wife, Erica, were important forces in that effort, and I had a hard time keeping up with them as they illustrated the captivating tale with a brisk walk along the former Susquehanna and Western railbed. Their attitude was infectious.
A few springs later, Len accompanied Frank Dale and I to White Lake for a fascinating exploration of another repository of Skylands heritage in a spectacular outdoor setting. The next winter, Len invited me along on a hike in search of the Peqest Furnace. We found it.
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