August 6, 2020 —
In addition to its outstanding schools, beautiful homes, tree-lined streets, upscale dining and shopping, and convenient midtown direct train service to New York City, Chatham is known for its proximity to extraordinary scenic outdoor spaces for walking, hiking, cycling, and horseback riding.
Here’s a list of some of my family’s favorite places to enjoy during the lazy days of summer, brisk fall days ahead, and eventual snowy days of winter.
For more information about each of the parks I’ve listed,
please visit their websites or click here for TrailLink,
an outstanding resource of information
about the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
Loantaka Brook Reservation in Morristown, NJ
With almost 10 miles of well-kept nature trails, Loantaka Brook Reservation is ideal for walking, jogging, cycling, and horseback riding on its adjacent bridle paths. Although the trails undulate moderately in certain areas, they are mostly flat and make walking and cycling easy and pleasurable at almost any fitness level.
Loantaka’s magnificent canopy of hardwoods
provides dense shade that many exercisers welcome
on a hot summer’s day.
Loantaka’s paved paths are ideal
for kids learning to ride their bikes.
Loantaka’s wide paved paths are smooth and clear of debris. As a result, they are ideal for children learning to ride bicycles. Kids of all ages who enjoy nature also can enjoy looking for birds, turtles, snakes, butterflies, bunnies, foxes, and deer in the reservation.
Known as “one of the finest untouched forests in the nation,”
the Helen Hartley Jenkins Woods at Loantaka Brook Reservation
offer visitors serene trails that wind through peaceful woodlands.
You may access Loantaka’s macadam or gravel / limestone nature trails from:
- The Kitchell Pond parking area on Kitchell Road
- Loantaka Way Trail parking area on Loantaka Way
- Seaton Hackney Stables and recreation area on South Street
Loantaka also has picnic areas, athletic fields, and play areas. It tends to be a popular park, especially on weekends. If you prefer solitude, I recommend visiting Loantaka very early in the morning or on weekdays.
Morristown National Historical Park in Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown National Historical Park includes Jockey Hollow, Fort Nonsense, and the Ford Mansion — historic sites where George Washington and his Continental Army stayed during the American Revolutionary War
A shady trail in Jockey Hollow’s beautiful hardwood forest.
Jockey Hollow National Park is comprised of 11 trails ranging from 1 to 6.5 miles in length. There are routes for almost all fitness levels and ages; but many of the trails include hills. Check the Morristown National Historical Park website for details about each of the trails to choose a path well suited to your fitness level.
If you enjoy hiking with a bit of history in the mix, you will enjoy Jockey Hollow. Each trail includes information about the area’s rich history and leads hikers to special interests, including a farmhouse, herb garden, cemetery, and soldiers’ huts.
Lewis Morris County Park in Morristown, NJ
Morristown National Park is contiguous with Lewis Morris County Park — Morris County’s second largest county park. The park includes 22 miles of walking, hiking, off-road cycling, and horseback riding trails on 2,196 acres.
In addition to its hiking trails,
Lewis Morris Park has a fenced dog park,
picnic areas and shelters, athletic fields,
and group camping areas.
Some of the trails in Lewis Morris Park are rocky and steep, whereas others are easily navigable. Check the Lewis Morris Park website for a map of the trails and information about their level of difficulty.
Swimmers visiting the park can enjoy a refreshing after-hike dip at Sunrise Lake between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Anglers also can fish in the lake. If you prefer to stay dry while enjoying the cheerful lake, you may rent a paddle boat!
Hackelbarney State Park in Chester, NJ
Walkers, hikers, and anglers will revel in the shady trails, ancient hardwood forest, hemlock-lined ravine, and refreshing waters of the Black River at Hackelbarney State Park. Hackelbarney is home to Rinehart Brook and Trout Brook — tributaries that wind through a spectacular glacial river gorge and feed into the Black River.
On hot summer days, Hackelbarney’s dense leafy canopy
and brisk Black River waters will keep you cool!
Bird watchers and nature lovers will enjoy Hackelbarney’s wide variety of birds, wildlife, and rare and endangered plant species.
If you enjoy fall apple picking or would like a special after-hike treat, stop by the charming Hackelbarney Farms Cider Mill just outside the park. Simply put your nose in the air, follow the aroma of homemade donuts, and you’ll be there!
Delaware Water Gap at the Pennsylvania / New Jersey Border
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area separates Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and runs through the Appalachian Mountains. In addition to hiking some of its more than 100 miles of trails, the Delaware Water Gap offers its visitors swimming, canoeing, rafting, fishing, and rock climbing.
Trails at the Gap are suitable for hikers of almost all ages and fitness levels, including:
- Novice hikers and families with young children who may prefer
the 1-mile Arrow Island trail off route 611
- Intermediate-level hikers who will enjoy the Karamac trail at Worthington State Forest
- Fit hikers who will enjoy the challenging and popular Mount Tammany routes,
including the Turquoise trail and Dunnfield Hollow trail
Bushkill Falls in Bushkill, Pennsylvania
Located only a few miles west of the Delaware Water Gap in the Pocono Mountains, Bushkill Falls offers hiking for almost all fitness levels. Known as the Niagra Falls of Pennsylvania, Bushkill falls is home to 8 gorgeous waterfalls that provide a refreshing mist to cool you on hot days. Many of the trails also offer walkers and hikers a dense canopy for much-needed shade during the summer months.
You can walk or hike to the Bushkill waterfalls on 4 main trails, each of which vary in length and difficulty:
- The two easiest trails require no climbing, offer fine views of the main waterfalls,
are suitable for novice or average-level walkers / hikers, and take about 45 minutes to complete
- The Pennell Falls trail is ideal for moderate-level hikers and takes about 75 minutes to complete
- The Bushkill Trails are well suited to advanced hikers who enjoy inclines and rock scrambles. Although they are more work than the other trails, Bushkill Trails allows hikers to see each of the 8 waterfalls in an average 2 or more hours
Round Valley Recreation Area in Lebanon, New Jersey
Located off Route 22, the Round Valley Recreation Area has 3 marked trails and 1 unmarked water trail on its 3,684 acres. The park also offers visitors 85 campsites, 3 picnic grounds, and more than 19 different species of fish for anglers. There also is hunting, boating, swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling at Round Valley.
Round Valley reservoir.
Hiking at Round Valley Recreation Area includes:
- The Cushetunk trail — a 9-mile, steep, rocky, and coarse trail for advanced hikers
- The Pine Tree Trail, a 1-mile loop that connects the day-use recreation area
with the Wildlife property and diving area
- The Family Hiking Trail — a half-mile loop suitable for young children and cyclists
who prefer an easy-to-moderate trail for walking and cycling
- The unmarked water trail — a beautiful 1.5-mile trail for walking along the water’s edge,
which is accessible at the boat launch
Visitors to Round Valley Recreation Area must pay a modest fee to enter the park.
Chimney Rock at Washington Valley Park in Bridgewater, NJ
Chimney Rock Park offers its visitors wonderful walking and bicycling trails. In addition, the nearby Washington Valley Park has more than 700 acres of mountain landscape on which to feast your eyes on including beautiful hardwood forests, open freshwater wetland marshes, rock outcroppings, and a 21-acre reservoir.
Washington Valley Park hiking trails include easy-to-moderate terrain with large, stable rocks underlying smaller, looser rocks. The trails offer spectacular views with safe, but uncultivated terrain.
Kenlockwood Gorge in Hunterdon County, NJ
Kenlockwood Gorge is one of the most picturesque spots
in New Jersey and the Northeast.
Huge boulders and refreshing water falls
are among the many beautiful sights
at Kenlockwood Gorge.
Walkers, hikers, and cyclists visiting Kenlockwood Gorge can enjoy a well-kept, wide, unpaved, and mostly flat path that runs alongside the Raritan River South Branch through a deep gorge growing with ferns, wildflowers, and cushions of moss. Over the eons, huge boulders have tumbled into the Gorge. At times, visitors will pass through steep boulder walls with towering hemlock trees in a gorgeous hardwood forest.
A designated Wildlife Management Area with a 2.5-mile path on 500 acres,
Kenlockwood Gorge is ideal for walkers, hikers, and trail cyclists
who want to enjoy an easy path in a spectacular setting.
Hikers parking in High Bridge can access the gorge at the Columbia Trail, where it crosses the Raritan River on a high rail trestle.
Morris County Park Commission Patriot’s Path
Walkers, hikers, joggers, and horseback riders will delight in the 46.3 miles of well-maintained trails, 27 miles of spur trails, and green open spaces located on Patriot’s Path 291.9 acres. The Patriot’s Path trail system was designed for outdoor recreation as well as the protection of the environmental integrity and aesthetic beauty of its stream valleys and uplands.
Patriot’s Path extends across Morris County from Essex County to Warren County. The main stem of the Path extends from East Hanover, connecting the Lenape Trail in Essex County to Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Sussex County. Patriot’s Path also intersects with the Columbia Trail in Washington Township. It joins many federal, state, county, and municipal parks as well as watershed areas and historic sites.
In many places, Patriot’s Path follows
along the Whippany, Black River, and Raritan River South Branch —
two of the most pristine trout streams in New Jersey.
Patriot’s Path offers its visitors many points of interest in addition to activities, including:
- Acorn Hall
- Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center
- Black River Wildlife Management Area
- Chubb Park
- Cooper Grist Mill
- Ford Mansion
- Fosterfield Living Historical Farm
- Frelinghuysen Arboretum
- Historic Speedwell
- Jockey Hollow National Park
- Kay Environmental Center
- Lewis Morris County Park
- Pocahontas Lake
- Schooley’s Mountain County Park
- Willowood Arboretum
Chatham is the Essence of Location, Location, Location!
Living in Chatham means you can hike in a gorgeous forest by day, splash in a refreshing local pool in the afternoon, enjoy the upbeat vibe of a sophisticated town center and dine at a 5-star restaurant in the evening, and tuck into a wonderful home in a beautiful, friendly neighborhood at bedtime!
If you’re thinking of moving, consider living in Chatham. One of New Jersey’s finest hipsturbias, Chatham offers its residents an extraordinary quality of life.
As a lifelong resident of Chatham,
I am happy to answer your questions
about Chatham, its surrounding areas, and all they offer.
Call or email me today