Spring, 2024

Warm greetings and best wishes for a season marked by renewed health and sanity. Join us in our continued 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 13 - 20

Make Room for Daddy

Daddy's home, time for dinner! Photo by Dan Bacon.
It is hard to believe, but its almost Summertime -- and Father's Day already (Sunday, June 16)! So, take that man by the hand and show him all that Northwest New Jersey has to offer. Take advantage of a calendar filled with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or check our day trip map for good ideas for a Sunday drive! The more aerobically inclined can choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands!

Go Daddy Go!

Dads love to paddle, and this time of year is perfect for big time strokes on the Delaware. 331 miles from Hancock, NY, to its mouth at Cape May Point, NJ, the Delaware is the longest free-flowing river in Eastern United States. Knowing the river - its beauty, history, and its hazards - can provide you with many days of enjoyment this summer.
Sign Dad up for a any day plan or all of the 29th Annual Delaware Sojourn, a guided paddling and camping trip full of fun and adventure, educational programs, historical interpretation, and more, from June 14-22. He'll never forget it!

Dancing Dads

Music-loving dads won't want to miss the Sustainably Green Music and Arts Festival on Saturday (June 15) in Washington Borough, a live music, original art, and crafts celebration in conjunction with 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.

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!

Walking Dads

Get lost with Dad in the other world of Hunterdon County, an almost a divine experience. Idyllic farms, narrow roads curving by fast rocky streams, gorgeous residences that seem tucked in a distant land and old movie-set towns blur time and geography. 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.

Father's Day Extravaganzas

Wondering about a last-minute gift for Father's Day? Treat your dad to a guided Fly Fishing Excursion! You can email or call/text 908-878-6289 with booking inquiries. Mention our ad and get 10% OFF!


Spend Father's Day Weekend at Kymer's Camping Resort where a schedule of activities planned just for dads awaits. Or just lay back and enjoy these two-hundred scenic acres located in Sussex County near the Kittatinny Mountains, at 69 Kymer Road in Branchville. Life Is Good When You're Camping at Kymer's!!

May 30 - June 6

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 are 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 captivating ideas for recreational enhancement on our Day Trip Map! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go.

For the Birds

Photo by Dave Zolla
Who has not been enchanted by the mysterious hummingbird? With wings that beat too-fast-to-see, it seems to stand still in midair. If you can get closer you can hear the buzz of drone-like precision, sparkling like a gem in the sun encased by flashes of green, red and gold. Then it suddenly darts like a tiny spaceship to another zone where it may hover again for your inspection—or not. Close encounters of the hummingbird kind don’t have to be rare occasions. You can turn your backyard into a hummingbird paradise, a place where these beautiful creatures will become regular visitors. Don’t let them pass you by!

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!

Big Bucks

This aerial view looking east from Pennsylvania shows Labar Island in the Delaware River and Sunfish Pond at the top of the Kittatinny Ridge. The Worthington State Park headquarters are visible on the river bank.
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...

Garden Glory

Well-Sweep Herb Farm's Spring Open House and Craft Market
Well-Sweep Herb Farm celebrates fifty-five years of herbal expertise with two full days of free lectures and presentations, tours of their spectacular gardens, live music, and a wide selection of curated craft vendors and food! The farm's largest selection of over 1,898 varieties of plants will be available. The Spring Open House and Craft Market takes place rain or shine this Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2 (free admission and parking). Find out more on their website or on facebook, or call 908/852-5390. Well-Sweep is located between Hackettstown and Washington at 205 Mt. Bethel Rd. in Port Murray.

Perspective

A festival featuring some flying fun with balloon launches and drone demonstrations, as well as local artisans and crafters at Warren County Community College June 1-2.
A two-day Hot Air Balloons, Arts and Crafts Festival, Saturday, June 1- Sunday, June 2, hosted by Warren County Community College, will feature hot air balloon launches and tethered rides, drone demos, food trucks, vendors, children's entertainment, live bands and DJ. Check out the full schedule of events here and plan your visit accordingly. To get your tickets online, click here. Warren County Community College is located at 475 Route 57, Washington, NJ.

May 23 - 30

Memorial Day

The Morris County Civil War Monument stands proudly on the Morristown Green, where Company K was given their farewells the before marching to war. The forty-eight-foot, one-hundred-ton tower with its silent sentinel watching over the town was unveiled on July 4, 1871.
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, among them 58,000 New Jersey men who served in the Civil War. With reenlistments, the state would eventually receive credit for more than 80,000 terms of service. The legacies of General Robert McAllister, Charles Hopkins, Daniel Bailey, Henry Ryerson and other heroic figures from the Civil War are told by monuments, museums, and living history groups. Seek out their stories of triumph and tragedy.

This Memorial Day Weekend, take advantage of a calendar bursting with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities. Summer starts now!

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!

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!

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.

Fishing Dads

What better Father's Day gift than a Skylands Fly Fishing Excursion?
You can catch fish on a deep-sea expedition, casting into the surf, trolling a lake or river, or with a worm on a hook, line and sinker. But there's nothing like the challenge and exhilaration of Fly Fishing. The Last Frontier Angler is a team of guides that offers guided Fly Fishing excursions throughout the spring, early summer and fall. Services include lessons, twilight trips and half day guided trips geared for the beginner to the expert.
Wondering about a gift for Father's Day (June 16)? Treat your dad to a guided Fly Fishing Excursion! You can email or call/text 908-878-6289 with booking inquiries. Mention our e-news and get 10% OFF!


May 16 - 23

Yardology

You don't need a team of horses, or even a mule, to turn your yard into an agricultural paradise and wildlife observatory.
Your backyard can be more than just an area you need to mow on Saturdays. Even on a small lot in a congested suburban area, you can grow enough food to put away dozens of quarts of delicious homegrown produce for consumption throughout the year. And it is fascinating to take note of the wide variety of wildlife with which you share your domain. You may even want to invite more!

How does your garden grow?

Shawna Bengivenni grows flowers to protect her organically grown garden in Wantage.
Local gardeners generally consider mid-May the frost-free line for our region -- the target time for getting vulnerable plants in the garden. Everyone can grow their own veggies in garden plots, raised beds, deck planters or any small space. Here are some great tips on how to grow your best garden in Mary Jasch's best (and easiest) veggie garden primer.

Seed to Stem

Roughly seventy true lettuce heirlooms and a mosaic of varieties make this leafy annual of the aster family far from ordinary. It is great for you, delicious, accessible, easy to grow with varieties to harvest in every season in Skylands territory. Start now!

Pollinator Paradise

This pelecinid wasp resting on ticktrefoil is about 2.5” long. But she parasitizes white grubs in the soil (June beetle grubs). She is a beneficial insect who is entirely unaggressive and ignores humans completely.
Insects are critical components of any natural area. Gardeners have become increasingly aware that, if you want wildlife in our gardens, you 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, you help recreate functioning ecosystems to support the wonderful wildlife that, in fact, needs us to survive. Learn more!
You can play a crucial role in enhancing the local environment and supporting wildlife conservation efforts by qualifying your own green space as a Certified Wildlife Habitat!

Edible Landscapes

Asian pears can be a beautiful and delicious addition to your backyard. (Gina Barkovitch)
Add to your backyard menu with an orchard, and your plantation is complete! Begin with a tree or two and learn as you go.

May 9 - 16

Motherly Love!

That's a big mother! Photo by Jonn Parke
New Jersey has of all kinds of moms - more per square mile than any other state in America. And the New Jersey Skylands can supply the perfect place to remind your mom how much you care on Mother's Day (Sunday, May 12). 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! The more aerobically inclined can choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities.

Say it with flowers!

Virginia pennywort is one of New Jersey's rare plants found in the Musconetcong Gorge. (Rachel Mackow)
You can bring your mom flowers, or take her to them! Wildflower hunting is the Greatest Show In Earth! Wooded trails such as those at Musconetcong Gorge Reservation promise a great show of native wildflower displays. And northwestern New Jersey is blessed with extraordinary public gardens where visitors can experience every spring-blooming plant that will grow in the region. Friday, May 10 is National Public Gardens Day!

Historic Moms

After the war, the Hamiltons never returned to the Schuyler-Hamilton house in Morristown, but the home's later admission to the Historic Register was two-pronged—one for its important role in the two winter encampments, but also for its early example of historic preservation in America.
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, in the winter of 1779-80, Betsy Schuyler embarked on the road to Motherhood when she began courtship with Alexander Hamilton, who was, at the time, General George Washington's aide-de-camp at the Ford Mansion in Morristown. Betsy had come from Albany to spend the winter at the house at 5 Olyphant Place. Over the next twenty-two years the Hamiltons had eight children. After her husband was killed in his famous duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, Betsy was left to provide an education for her sons, three of whom were eventually admitted to the bar. She defended and decorated her husband’s reputation for the remaining fifty hears of her life.

Paddling Moms

Take mom on a self-propelled cruise! Quick and tricky or quiet and easy; canoe, kayak, raft or tube; the floating experience in Northwest New Jersey comes in many flavors. A vast river bottomland that collects water from the surrounding mountains in a network of creeks and wetlands in Sussex County's Vernon Township make for a classic canoeing adventure on Wawayanda and Pochuck Creeks.

Adventurous Moms

On the southeast side of the park, a broad and colorless swamp is eerily populated by a host of beaver cut and half fallen, decaying trees. (C. J. Kern)
Rising beyond the eastern shore of the Rockaway River, in Boonton Township, stands the Tourne, a modest mountain known for its rocky terrain and spectacular New York skyline views. Add a wildflower trail, a big-time bog, and miles of historic river valley, and you've got a prime Mother's Day adventure.

Outdoor moms

Take mom camping at Kymer's Camping Resort! Choose from cabin and luxury tent rentals as well as trailer or tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on two-hundred scenic acres located at 69 Kymer Road in Branchville. Mother' Day Weekend includes arts & crafts, special evening activities and a pancake breakfast on Sunday! For reservations or gift certificates, click or call 973-875-3167.

Maternal Instinct

Can't figure out what she'd like? Take her shopping and let her decide. Take a trip to Gallery 23 in Blairstown where an inspired group of more than thirty juried local artists display their work on Main Street. Choose from hand-made treasures by potters, painters, fiber artists, jewelry artists, woodworkers, sculptors, photographers and more. This unique fine crafts and art showroom has gained an impressive reputation and is now a destination point for visitors from all over the country and abroad. 908/362-6865. Open Tuesday - Saturday (closed Sunday), or always online.

May 2 - 9

A Wonderful World!

There's always something to see from the observation area at Merrill Creek's inlet/outlet tower.
As the Merry Month gets underway, Warren County busts out all over with a collection of outstanding events this weekend. Beyond those borders there are many more listed on our calendar, along with dozens of natural attractions, outdoor activities or day trips and tours to grab your spring-feverish attention.
And I think to myself, Explore Warren!

Meet Me in the Borough

Steampunk has remade a name for itself in the funky Warren County Borough of Washington with the annual Steampunk Music and Art Fair which takes place this Saturday, May 4 (10am - 5pm). This is a free-to-attend event! No tickets are required to come enjoy a full day of live music, artisan vendors, street performers, retro-futuristic costumes and general steampunk shenanigans. Live music will be provided by Crash Gordon & Debra Dynamite, Frenchy and the Punk, Walter Sickert and the Victor and the Bully. Routes 31 & 57 in Warren County. Click or call 908/689-4800.

Herbal Essence

Perennial garden and sundial at Well-Sweep
Discover the best ways to invigorate your garden, and your life, at Well-Sweep Herb Farm during this Saturday's Herb Day Festival on May 4 (rain or shine). In partnership with the American Herbalist Guild of NJ and in celebration of National Herb Day, enjoy a day of free informative lectures and presentations, tours of Well-Sweep's spectacular gardens, as well as a Craft Market featuring a wide selection of vendors and food. Featured speakers include founder of Herbalist & Alchemist, David Winston, as well as several of his students and colleagues. A wide selection of the farm's 1,898 varieties of plants will be available. Find out more on their website, on facebook, or call 908/852-5390. Well-Sweep is located between Hackettstown and Washington at 205 Mt. Bethel Rd. in Port Murray.

Flying Objects and Other Fun

Calling all people of earth that are curious about flying objects and other techie things! On Saturday, May 4, Area 57 is all about tech and aviation, a showcase for Warren County College’s nationally-acclaimed curriculum for piloting, design and development, and the maintenance and repair of drones, as well as AI and Robotics.
In addition to Drone Demonstrations, the day's schedule includes a variety of activities as well hot-air balloons and tethered rides ($). Reserve your tickets here: Free for Students & Veterans, Seniors $4, Adults $7. 475 State Route 57, Washington.

Older than the hills...

....at least older than the surrounding forested hills of today. Shippen Manor is an 18th c. iron master’s residence, built back when the landscape was stripped bare of trees for charcoal to fuel the historic Oxford Furnace.
Celebrate the Manor's (c.1754-2024) 270th birthday party on Sunday, May 5, with self-guided tours of the museum main floor along with reenactors and interpreters on the grounds, including the New Jersey Frontier Guard (French & Indian War), 2nd NJ Helm’s Co. (Revolutionary War) and the 27th NJ Baileys Boys (Civil War) as well as other participating historical organizations. 11am - 4pm. Free. 8 Belvidere Ave, Oxford; 908/453-4381.


April 25 - May 1

Calling all ramblers!

Bob Thompson
It doesn't last forever, so take advantage of a schedule budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities. Now's the time, the time is now. Ramble on!

Seeds of Passion

In the Ramapo Mountains of Ringwood lies one of New Jersey’s most exquisite gems, the New Jersey State Botanical Garden. Its ninety-six cultivated acres are a secret to many — for others, a joyous discovery waiting to happen. Celebrate spring with a visit, where you’ll find the beauty of nature and a soothing respite from this busy world, plus many special programs. Click or call 973/962-9534. 2 Morris Rd., Ringwood

History You Can Taste

Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum.
Although they produce varieties of just about any fruit or vegetable you can think of, heirloom seeds are probably best known for the great tasting tomatoes that they grow. Heirloom seeds, which have been passed down over generations, not only produce the same delicious produce that your forbears ate, but also preserve the natural variety essential to a healthy system. Modern agriculture has already resulted in the loss of 75% of the world’s edible plant varieties. You can learn more about heirlooms and New Jersey's glorious farming past with a visit to the Garden State Heirloom Seed Society Museum, open this weekend! 82 Delaware Rd., Columbia. 908/475-2730

Beauty, Peace and Power

Joan Case
The Black River is only about twelve miles long from beginning to end, but on the way it slices through the lives of tens of thousands of New Jerseyans. It hits them where they live, work and play. The river highlights the natural beauty of this corner of the state, and it flows through many of its major controversies about how land and water should be used. In its middle, as it roars through the hemlock groves of Hacklebarney State Park in Morris County, the Black River puts on a show of beauty, peace and power that can make a visitor forget where he is or why he came ­and cease to care.

Steep Devotion

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

April 18 - 25

On the Edge

River bank montage by Melinda Nye.
An artist's eye reminds us that we face critical decisions every day in a fragile and vulnerable world. Perhaps if more of us spent time along the bank of a stream or in a field of wildflowers there would be less strife in the world. If only we could appreciate those simple gifts found just outside our door, we might be more willing to set aside our prejudices, less inclined to dredge up old grievances, make war.
To celebrate the planet from whence you sprouted, choose among dozens of natural attractions, outdoor activities, day trips, or Earth Day events.

Earthly Delights

Wildlife Observation Area in the Refuge. Photo: Arthur Panzer
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.

Now you see 'em

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

Close Encounters

Photo by Dan Bacon
Should you traverse any stretch of woods this spring, or even your backyard, alert eyes are usually rewarded. Bobcats thrive in habitats that merge open lands and forests in the most remote areas of northern New Jersey. Protected under the New Jersey Endangered Species Act, bobcats have settled in large areas of contiguous forest where they were introduced more than forty years ago. But fragmentation, caused by development and traffic, tend to constrain the local populations. Keep your eyes open and you might get lucky!

Restless Natives

A native mountain laurel allee at The Cross Estate Gardens in Morristown.
Native plants (those that lived here before the colonists arrived) make outstanding gardens because they are strong growers, ornamental, require less maintenance than many exotics, and are particularly attractive to birds and butterflies. Some are even rumored to be deer-resistant!

Earth Link

Nina and Jonathan White, whose life mission is to heal the earth, create good, wholesome foods that nourish people in a sustainable manner that harmonizes with nature.
A long-time model for earth-friendly agriculture, Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse is a regenerative, 100% grass-fed family farm. Towards that end, Bobolink products meld old and new, using methods that resemble how things were done over 200 years ago, while ushering us into a healthy and vibrant future. The property is host to a huge variety of birds, insects, and plant life, most notably the ground-nesting Bobolink, a bird that relies on undisturbed grasslands for its reproduction. Equally content are the farm's cows, who live outside, eating grass and being milked seasonally, and not stuck in a barn being stuffed with grain, animal by-products and hormones, and being milked to death. Order online, or better yet, an Earth Week pilgrimage may be in order! 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County), 908/86GRASS.

April 11 - 18

Appreciating Assets

Perseverance eventually led to preservation, and today the oldest building in Phillipsburg may be among its most appealing!
Tax time! We look for credit on the declining value of our assets. But this is a season to appreciate the world around us, earthquakes and solar eclipses aside. Do not allow Spring to further depreciate! Time to dig yourself back into Mother Earth. And what finer place to dig than New Jersey’s Great Northwest Skylands? Take advantage of a calendar budding with intriguing things for you and your family to enjoy. Or use the Outdoor Directory for links to all sorts of hikes and outdoor fun!

High Liquidity

Buttermilk Falls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is bursting at the seams!
There are waterfalls scattered throughout the Skylands region, but nowhere so plentiful than in the Kittatinny Mountains, where streams find their way down steep slopes to the Delaware River. Within the Kittatinny range, which parallels a forty-mile stretch of the river in Warren and Sussex Counties,several waterfalls are only a short walk away from parking areas. Now's the time!

Net Worth

The gouges and cuts that scarred the earth made way for early industrial commerce in Northwest New Jersey.
With a little research and a walk in the woods your town might transform from a collection of ordinary suburban neighborhoods to one of great historical significance. Explore the site of the Elizabeth Mine in Rockaway, one of a number of iron ore operations that comprised the Mount Hope Mine, which produced about six million tons of iron ore and, from its forge and furnace, cast iron products such as Revolutionary War cannonballs.

Accrued Interest

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

Capital Gains

White Township farmer Albert Smith in 1972, photographed by Richard Harpster.
Farms have always been integral to the fabric of Warren County, but farmers have had to adapt to changing economic and community demands. The survivors have diversified their product, and many have ventured into agritourism in order to provide for their families.

April 4 - 11

Thrill of the Rill

For many, spring begins on the day when they once again find themselves along the bank of a rushing river, rod in hand. April streams are overripe and filled with rain, but even the most severe conditions can not deny dedicated fishers their place on Opening Day (Saturday, April 6), when hundreds-of-thousands of stocked trout become fair game. Others prefer solitude along a handful of tiny creeks designated as wild trout waters. In Northwest New Jersey, you'll find a diverse range of fishing environments—from meandering rivers to serene lakes and babbling mountain streams. Whether you prefer the art of fly fishing, the precision of casting, or just a lazy worm and bobber, there's something for every angler, and each season brings its own unique charm to the fishing experience.

The Mighty Musky

Because the Musconetcong River has been federally designated as a National Wild and Scenic River that has outstanding ecological value in free-flowing condition, this favorite fishing hole at Bloomsbury has a dim future. The dam is in the sites of the Army Corps of Engineers, due for removal sometime soon.
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 spring itinerary. The village of Asbury is a good place to begin.

A Stealth River

Opening day of fishing season on the Whippany at Speedwell Dam in Morristown
If ever there was a river that expresses New Jerseyans' attitude toward their state's natural resources, the Whippany River is it. The Whippany rises in privacy in Mendham Township, and ends in obscurity amid a maze of highways in the Meadows of East Hanover, Hanover, and Parsippany, at the confluence of the Passaic, Rockaway, and Whippany Rivers. On the way, it provides us with some pretty views and some good fishing, and slices right through our lives. Mostly we drive, walk, work and live near it, never knowing it's there.

Big River

Ken Lockwood Gorge
If you speak to fishermen who know Ken Lockwood Gorge, you can almost feel the ache in their voices, like they're handing over a family treasure to a stranger. Its not an unwillingness to share, but sincere concern that generates stewardship among fisherman and many others about this 1.2 mile stretch of river. As rough as it looks, the Gorge is very delicate. It's a rare piece of wild water along the Raritan South Branch.

Darkness, Darkness

You can view Jersey's piece of Monday's (April 8) solar eclipse at the United Astronomy Clubs of NJ observatory in Jenny Jump State Forest. Digital cameras will be attached to some of the telescopes to provide a live view of the eclipse. And you'll be in the company of fellow astronomy enthusiasts. There is a waiting list for limited parking registration, so you might have to plan a longer hike through the park in order to attend. 333 State Park Rd, Hope.
Bobolinks and other birds thrive in the farm's woods and grasslands.
Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse produces regenerative and sustainable foods that nourish people in harmony with nature. You'll find 100% grass-fed raw cow's milk cheese; pastured meats and charcuterie; wood-fired rustic breads.
Visit their website to learn more about our farm store, farmer’s markets, classes, events, and shipping. Or take a farm tour this Sunday at 369 Stamets Road, Milford NJ.


March 28 - April 3

Walks of Life

Make your spring break by following any number of paths and trails in Northwest New Jersey. Stretch your legs, breath fresh air and stay strong! You got the action, you got the motion!

Sticks and Stokes

Tillman Ravine (Mary Jasch)
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.

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...

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.

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.

Karamac Candy

You’re likely to be watched as you saunter down this old railbed.
A former railbed just north of the Delaware Water Gap provides a short but satisfying taste of days past in a beautiful setting. This short route is also perfect for those who are not inclined to hike longer, more difficult trails. A perfect spring warm up!

March 20 - 27

Beware Spring!

Melinda Nye
It has arrived; the chaos that is spring! Incessant noise, obnoxious odors, persistent temptation, and relentless optimism are upon us. Keep our calendar close! It's filled with events that will help navigate this most irritating of seasons. And here's your essential survival guide to the treacherous time ahead.

Noise Complaints

Bob Thompson
It's tough to sleep late theses days with all that racket up in the trees where things are getting noisy. But look at the good side. Learning and identifying hundreds of species on the fly challenges the intellect and intensifies awareness. And for photographers and illustrators, there is no better subject. The concentration of ridges, valleys and wetlands in our area holds a fortune of interaction with the avian experience any time of year, but especially in spring.

What's That Smell?

The "fresh" liberating aroma on a walk through the forest in early spring is, for a biologist, the odor of gases emitted by billions of tiny organisms in the newly thawed earth, releasing nutrients vital to the approaching bloom of wildflowers. The first to pop above the layer of wet, dead leaves is always skunk cabbage, able to spontaneously generate enough heat to propel it through the frozen ground.

Attitude adjustment

Trish Romano
Most of all, beware the contagious epidemic known as "spring fever," where everyone suddenly becomes unbearably cheerful and optimistic about life and the promise of the season. Go vernal!

Call of the Mild!

Superbly camouflaged against the dormant meadow floor, the woodcock probes the soil with its long bill in search of a meal.
These mild days stir the blood, along with the sound signals that the new season is upon us. The surest sign that warmer weather is here to stay is the mating call of the Spring Peeper, a tiny tree frog with a big, jingle bell voice fills the forest. Or, wanna go see some male woodcocks show off for females by creating loud, nasal "peent" calls and performing dazzling aerial displays struts and launch into the air for a spiraling, zigzagging flight? Whaddya think? Go take a walk, it's spring!

Rare Herps

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.

Tavern Tracking

Frenchtown’s National Hotel retains a precious old-time elegance.
Early settlements in northwest New Jersey typically grew around a mill, which provided sustenance for the body; a church, which offered sustenance for the soul; and a tavern, which delivered sustenance for both. In Hunterdon County, hundreds of the oldest taverns are now mostly forgotten. Many remain however, some hidden in plain sight, having been incorporated into later additions and renovations, evolving into establishments still in service. So, in celebration of spring's arrival, it would certainly be sensible to do your own research by visiting some of these places.

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!

Digging Deep

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

Foggy Mountain Breakdowns

Although there may have been as many as ten plane crashes along the Kittatinny Ridge in Sussex and Warren Counties, few people are aware of them. Due to the very rugged nature of the area's mountainous terrain, some of the wreckages have never been completely salvaged, and pieces still lie there. For example, the scant remains of an old airframe, possibly from an early Army biplane trainer, rest close to the Appalachian Trail near the top of the mountain, overgrown with brush. Without modern instruments, the ridge could be treacherous for aviators. Read more!!

My Eduvacation

Peters Valley
The serene atmosphere at Peters Valley invigorates a diverse community of artists.
Are you looking to explore your creative potential? How about a class or workshop at Peters Valley Crafts Center? One of only six craft schools of its type in the country, and unique to Northwest New Jersey, it has grown from a small artists' collective in the early 1970s to a nationally recognized center for craft education. Here's what happened one summer...

Run of the Mills

The restored grist mill at Millbrook Village.
Grist mill technology came to our country with the earliest settlers. Streams flowing from the New Jersey highlands made the geography of the northwestern section of our state ideally suited to the early mills, and by the middle of the 19th century the area was dotted with these self-contained, water-powered, grain-grinding factories. More efficient power sources and mass production quickly overwhelmed the small local grist mills and working mills were a rarity by the mid-20th century. The mills, however, remain prominent in our landscape.

Best of Friends

The farmhouse and barn at the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead are busy making people happy.
Friends groups, as we know them in relation to many of our parks and precious historic sites, are surely bound by their commitment to community and stewardship. Always not-for-profit and volunteer driven, with the occasional paid executive director, Friends groups connect people to natural places, as well as to our heritage, while enhancing the role of public lands in local communities. If you’re looking for things to do this spring, investigate the event schedules of dozens of Friends groups in Northwest New Jersey. Better yet, look into joining!
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