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.

September 15 - 21

Don't Miss a Thing!

As summer officially grinds to a halt, you might consider a drive through the western reaches of the Skylands in search of early autumn flavor this weekend. 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.

Festival in the Borough

The Smithereens (with Marshall Crenshaw) headline at this Saturday's Festival in the Borough.
This Saturday, Sept. 18, Warren County’s largest music and street festival features three stages of entertainment with an array of musical genres. Dozens of vendors, children's activities, rides, and a tasty assortment of food will permeate downtown Washington Borough. This year’s music line-up includes The Smithereens, Kinderhook, Kara Grainger, Southbound, Katie Henry Band, Don Kincaid & The Wait, JerZgirls, Flexible Flyers, and many more. The Festival in the Borough is free to attend and includes plenty of free parking. This event takes place rain or shine, 11am - 10pm. For information, please call 908/689-4800, or click the Washington Business Improvement District website.

Village Vanguard

The Morris Canal at Waterloo.
At this Saturday's Waterloo Canal Day (Sept. 18, 10am-4pm) in Byram Township, the Canal Society of New Jersey will offer tours of the restored canal town, along with a wide range of programming including a narrated canal boat ride, Canal Museum, the recovered Canal Boat exhibit, blacksmithing and historic trades demonstrations, period music. Canal Day recalls the fascinating story of Waterloo Village and the Morris Canal, one that most completely identifies the heritage of northern New Jersey. For more information click or call 973-292-2755.

Crafts in the Country

Wilbur's Country Store will host its annual Fall Craft Fair this weekend (Sept. 18 & 19) as always, on the lawn behind Wilbur's barn-style complex where craftspeople and artisans from four states will set up their wares in a real country setting. For more information about Wilbur's or the fair, located at 735 Route 94 in Frelinghuysen (between Newton and Blairstown), click or call 908-362-8833.

Water Marks

Islands of the Delaware are markers for the miles traversed on a float down the river, and for centuries of human history along its banks. By canoe, kayak, raft or tube, river trips are about perfect this time of year as the high water subsides and the summer crowds have abated.

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!





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 decisions! Keep an eye on our calendar and watch out for our virtual efforts to keep you informed.

The Franklin Marble

The wilds of Sparta Mountain begin at Ryker Lake. (Dan Balogh)
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!

Trails, Tracks, and Taverns

The old mill complex in Little York.
Old roads and new trails in and around Hunterdon County’s Jugtown Mountain offer scenic options for fall explorers as they wander through historic districts, old hamlets, wooded roads, environmental preserves and county parks. The more you look, the more you see! Here are the details...

Carping

A Grass Carp caught by James Dempsey, Jr of Ewing New Jersey on May 12, 2011 is the official state record. The huge fish weighed an astounding 55 lbs. 8 oz.!
No, we are not talking about complaining here. To an angler, in particular, a fisherman from Great Britain, the word denotes someone who is dedicated--no, devoted--to the fine art of seeking and catching what some Americans foolishly call "Trash Fish". Carp! You see, more people fish for carp in the world than for any other species. Here in New Jersey, we have countless lakes, rivers, ponds and streams that hold carp. Go fishin!

Decisions!







Labor Day Weekend!

End of the summer? No worries. With all that's happening in September no labor is involved in the quest to find adventure. Stay tuned to our Day Trip Map for good ideas for a scenic drive! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go, or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website.

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...

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!

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...

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.

Lake Art

Winona Parkway entrance to White Deer Plaza looks much the same way as on this old postcard.
To walk along the Boardwalk at Lake Mohawk in Sussex County is to step back into another time, a time when the pace of life was a tad slower and less complicated. While the Lake, Boardwalk, and adjacent White Deer Plaza are old, they are not ancient. The Lake is, in fact, man-made, dating from the mid-1920s. More...



Three Hundred Years of Solitude

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...

Packed to the Rafters

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

For the longest time

Grey Towers, a National Historic Landmark in Milford, Pennsylvania.
The story of Gifford Pinchot and his virtual invention of the US Forest Service is one worth knowing. His then revolutionary concepts for natural conservation are enshrined, not only in the vast stands of our national forests, but at his family's retreat, now a National Historic Site. Visitors to Grey Towers, in Milford, PA, will come to understand the importance of the Pinchot family influence on America's conservation ethics and natural resource management policies. Although the mansion remains closed for visitation, the grounds are staffed and visitors have access to documentary films, as well as displays and self-guided tours throughout the extensive grounds. Click or call 570-296-9630 for more information.

Step Lightly!

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...



Dog Day Afternoons

Smarter than the average dog, this German shepherd wears RuffWear Grip Trex boots that protect his feet while strolling along hot Morristown sidewalks, training for a career with The Seeing Eye.

The sultry days of mid to late summer are long and lazy. Busy, demanding days are not far ahead; so spend some quality time finding out the best ways to do nothing but relax. Stay tuned to our Day Trip Map for good ideas for a scenic drive! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go, or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. You don't have to rob a bank to have fun!

Nowhere Fast

Have you ever followed a highway sign and gotten nowhere? Follow some directional markers off Northwest New Jersey country roads and that's just what you'll get. Unless of course you slow down long enough to take a closer look. A few older homes clustered together, a crumbling foundation, cemetery stones worn with time: these places tell stories worth knowing. Huntsville, in Sussex County, is such a place. There is no post office, general store, fire station, or church. Yet upon closer inspection, those old buildings hold clues to the town which once thrived. Step back in time, a mere fifty years, and the town of Huntsville exists again.

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!

Double Header

As August progresses, the water on this slow-moving run has become as thin as my aging hairline. Trout that have survived a season of anglers, not to mention mergansers, herons, snakes, and otters, fin in the gin-clear current like specters through a graveyard, mocking any attempt to prove their existence. All the while they grow large on the stream’s abundant insect life as evidenced by this fish, which continues to feed where I lost a trout the previous afternoon. Yesterday, another fish rose through the surface to grab my fly, but when the knot between a 7x tippet and the end of my leader failed to hold, it broke me off. More...

Come and listen to a story...

See the Highlands Canal Boat recovery exhibit at Waterloo!
Waterloo Village, in Byram Township, was approximately half-way along the Morris Canal's 102-mile journey across the state, from Phillipsburg to Jersey City, and had all the components necessary to become a thriving canal town. Today, Waterloo Village is stuffed with stories -- one of the most remarkable is about the recovery of a lost Morris Canal boat which is now on display during Saturday Canal Days with the Canal Society of New Jersey. The Canal Museum is also open along with many of Waterloo's historic structures open for visitors. For more information and to verify each week's event, click or call 973-292-2755.

 


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...

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, campgrounds, state parks and forests, Branchville and its nearby country pleasures are worth a visit.

Never more than on a hot summer's afternoon does the Delaware River's cool, clean serenity invite complete immersion, as the water broadens below the Water Gap all the way down through Hunterdon County. Friends and family enjoy getting down this section by a never-ending variety of methods. Canoe, kayaks, rafts, and the coolest of customers, the tubists. More...
Long lazy days of summer seem like they'll last forever. Don't be fooled, make a splash while you can! Find a way by checking these selected summer stories. Or stay tuned to our Day Trip Map for good ideas for a scenic drive! For the more aerobically inclined, the Outdoor Map shows the way to go, or choose among dozens of natural attractions or outdoor activities suggested on our website. Choose your own adventure!

Skylands By Saddle

On the Paulins Kill Valley Trail
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!

The Mighty Musky

The restoration of the Asbury Mill as an interpretive center for the Musconetcong Watershed Association is nearing completion.
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.

Camp Skylands!

Make memories for a lifetime at Harmony Ridge Campground! Outstanding family facilities near Culver Lake and Stokes Forest include over 200 sites on 160 acres, cabins, trailers, tent sites, camp store, laundry, hot showers and full range of on-site activities. 23 Risdon Drive, Branchville, 973/948-4941. Where the road ends, camping begins!





Ye Olde Lake

Lake Hopatcong is central to the New Jersey Skylands, not only geographically, but also to the many levels and facets of the region's character. Its name derived from the language of the people who first inhabited these fertile grounds along the Minisink Trail, Hopatcong's waters reflect Northwest New Jersey's prolific history of transportation, industry and recreation. If you take a drive around the lake, or if you're fortunate enough to enjoy a boat or kayak ride on the water, we hope that, from this brief account of the lake's evolution, you'll understand a bit more about where you are.

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.

Your Neighbor's Cow

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

Camp Skylands!

Located in Sussex County near the Kittatinny Mountains, Kymer Camping Resort offers park model, cabin and luxury tent rentals as well as trailer or tent campsites with water, electric and cable TV hookups on two-hundred scenic acres at 69 Kymer Road in Branchville. And if you think camping is only for those who own camping equipment, think again. Kymer's offers exciting rental options for those families that want to enjoy the camping experience without having to purchase their own camping equipment. Trailer or cabin rentals are also available. And each weekend, there's something special going on. This weekend it's Christmas In July! Create some memories in the great outdoors!



Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands this and every week this summer. Don't wait; the days are already getting shorter!
They're also getting hotter and wetter! People who tend the land have observed physical weather-related changes that affect their occupations. Some had to rethink their direction while others continue on, hoping for the best, but onward thinkers all. Here are a few of their experiences...

Twilight Time

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

What better occupation on a cooled-off and serene summer evening than to star gaze? The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey (UACNJ) facilities in Jenny Jump State Forest, near Hope in Warren County, are 1,100 feet above sea level, one of the few dark sky locations left in the state. The facility offers public presentations on Saturday evenings. Audience size is limited and reservations are required. This Saturday: Reaching for the Edge: James Webb Space Telescope.
And at Voorhees State Park in Glen Gardner, the New Jersey Astronomical Association has installed a 26-inch Newtonian reflector telescope, one of the largest privately owned telescopes in New Jersey.


Paradise Lost, And Found

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

On The Banks Of The Wild Six

When the Jersey sky hangs white in summer haze, head to the woods at Six Mile Run in Franklin Township, Somerset County. The 3,037-acre property takes off from the Millstone River and winds its way through forest, meadow and suburb, with its own renegade offshoot creating the pond in Hidden Lake Park, before ending unceremoniously in a North Brunswick industrial park. But in the park that bears its name, a myriad of trails and habitats alongside this quiet stream are made for easy—long or short—relaxing walks.

Expeditions

In the land of Ringwood, off the highly traveled path, lies a 152-acre gem where all are welcome to learn about nature and experience peace at The New Weis Center for Education, Arts and Recreation. The center is dedicated to giving kids an opportunity to explore and broaden their horizons, as well as offering adult workshops and public programs. This weekend there's even a bit of summer theater!

Camp Skylands!

View of Delaware Water Gap from atop Mt. Tammany - direct trail access from Camp Taylor Campground.
For more than fifty years, campers have been drawn to the Genuine Outdoor Experience at Camp Taylor Campground. Located on 350 acres adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, this family-owned and operated campground offers direct access to the state's most majestic and pristine terrain. That's not to say that Camp Taylor is for rugged wilderness tenters only; there are deluxe cabins, fully outfitted RVs, and "glamping" tent rentals as well. An extra, added bonus: Lakota Wolf Preserve makes its home at Camp Taylor! 85 Mt. Pleasant Road, Columbia, 908/496-4333.

Light From Within

Acorn Hall’s exterior has been restored to accurately represent its 1860-1880 appearance, and efforts continue to restore the rest of the property, including carriage house and grounds, to its true 19th-century country aesthetic.
When approaching a big birthday, it never hurts to discover buried treasure in your own backyard. Better yet, your basement. That’s where the Morris County Historical Society recently unpacked an artistic gem hiding in plain sight — a stained-glass window crafted by the New York studio that once rivaled Louis Comfort Tiffany’s. Read on!

Best of Friends

The area now called Hewitt was once the Long Pond Ironworks, where men took iron ore from the Ramapo hills, burned and extracted it into pig iron and forged it into wrought. Farms and schools and whole support systems sprung up around the ironworks village to maintain this rugged venture. Thanks to The Friends of Long Pond Ironworks it remains a beautiful place to visit, a serene one-hundred-year-old forest now replenished, breathing the enterprise of our past. The Museum and Visitor Center have reopened and tours resume this Saturday, July 10!

Paths of Stories

The upper end of Morris Canal Lock 2 East at Wharton with refurbished lock gates in place and beckoning towpath. Photograph by Joe Macesak, Canal Society of New Jersey.
The Morris Canal always was a good place for a stroll. The canal's 102-mile meander across northern New Jersey, from Phillipsburg to Jersey City, was walked by every mule driver for every team that pulled a canal boat from 1831 to 1924. However, the canal's towpath also served as a route for recreational rambles during its years of operation.
Today, the Morris Canal Greenway is a reassembly of many segments along that route. Partners that include, among others, the Canal Society of New Jersey and the Warren County Dept. of Land Preservation, have gone to great lengths to document the fascinating stories along the way. Take a summer stroll!


The Scenic Route

Pochuck Mountain frames the meadows that are home to the Black Creek Historic Site along the Western Highlands Scenic Byway.
The twenty-three-mile stretch of the Western Highlands Scenic Byway reveals scenic, historic, archaeological, cultural and natural intrinsic qualities of the Vernon area. There are two parts to this scenic puzzle: a straight line from Route 23 through Stockholm to Warwick, New York; and an adjacent loop in Vernon through the Black Creek Historic Site.

Beat the heat with a paddle!

Too hot to handle! 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 and your family with many days of enjoyment this summer.

Easy living!

The broad water on the upper Musconetcong make for an easy summertime paddle.
Summertime and the living is easy! So says DuBose Heyward's poem etched so deeply in our minds with the music of George Gershwin. Well, let's hope so!
Spread your wings and reach for the Skylands. 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. Pay attention, the days are already getting shorter!

Short Walks on the Long Trail

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

Just Plane Fun

The Flight Path Trail in Boonton Township traces the perimeter of what once was the Rockaway Valley Aerodrome.
It’s easy to overlook the rich aviation history in New Jersey’s northwest corner. Way before Silicon Valley and the dawn of the computer age, guys in basements and industrial labs in the Skylands worked on the hot tech of the day— flight Located in and around early Skylands airports, they helped move airplanes from mainly experimental and military enterprises into the heart of American commerce and lives. Make a loop this summer, visiting area airports and discover not only that science and history but also the thrill of flight — from the air if you dare, from the ground if you don’t. 




Beguiling Bridges

The Rieglesville Bridge is elaborately suspended from four towers.
Going places? Cross the next bridge when you come to it, but not without considering its story and its style. A bridge’s context and charm can make your passage delightful.

 

 


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