New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey Conservation Foundation Menu
NJCF Homepage Contact Us Donate Events Search NJCF
New Jersey Land Conservation Organization
Donate to New Jersey Conservation Foundation
State We're In New Jersey Conservation Foundation Blog
Welcome spring in a county park
3/22/2018 Volume XLVIII, No. 12

In spite of another snowstorm on the first day of spring, it’s impossible to ignore that spring is here. And lots of snow-weary New Jerseyans will be heading outdoors to explore new places.

Where to go? You could visit state and national parks. But how about following a different path? Check out the county parks in this state we’re in!

County parks are the Garden State’s hidden treasures: uncrowded places known mostly to locals. Some are compact neighborhood gems, some are large and rustic, while others are packed with recreational amenities. Here are some great places in each county:

Atlantic – If you’re looking for a scenic spot for fishing, kayaking or watching bald eagles, try Lake Lenape Park in Hamilton Township. The county owns 2,000 acres, including the lake and land along its east and west shorelines. You can mountain bike, hike nature trails, camp, picnic and even do in-line skating!

Bergen – Located in the rugged Ramapo Mountains near the New York state border are two great county parks in the town of Mahwah. The Ramapo Valley County Reservation has over 4,000 acres with hiking trails and canoe/kayak access to the Ramapo River, and the Campgaw Mountain Reservation offers downhill skiing in winter and trails and a disc golf course in warm weather.

Burlington – If you like to mix history with outdoor recreation, Historic Smithville Park and Smith’s Woods in Eastampton is a great park. Tour Smithville village, a restored mill town listed on the state and national Registers of Historic Places, and enjoy hiking, biking and picnicking, as well as fishing and paddling in Smithville Lake.

Camden – The centerpiece of Camden County’s park system is the 346-acre Cooper River Park, which runs through Pennsauken, Cherry Hill, Collingswood and Haddon Township. This gorgeous park hosts many prestigious rowing events, thanks to a narrow and sheltered straightaway on the Cooper River.  Rent a kayak or paddle boat, enjoy a stroll or bike ride on the park’s paths, or enjoy the playgrounds and miniature golf course.

Cape May – At over 1,700 acres, the Fishing Creek Wildlife Preserve in Del Haven is the largest of the county's parks. Most of the park is wetlands, providing habitat for diverse plant and animal life in the Delaware Bay estuary. There’s a small beach on the Delaware Bay, where you can soak in the scenery or take a leisurely stroll. Active recreation includes basketball courts, barbeque grills, a picnic pavilion and a playground.

Cumberland – Cumberland County is one of only two counties without a park system, but there are plenty of beautiful places to visit. Try the 5,000-acre Union Lake Wildlife Management Area  in Millville, where you can walk along the lake edge and spot bald eagles and ospreys.   

Essex – The first county park in the nation was Branch Brook Park in Newark, which has become famous for its spring cherry blossoms. There are more cherry trees in Newark than in Washington, D.C.! And a gorgeous landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, ballfields, public art, an urban farm, a great new playground and a children’s garden.

Gloucester – At over 1,000 acres, Scotland Run Park in Clayton is the largest in Gloucester County’s park system. You can fish and boat on Wilson Lake, explore the trails behind the nature center, and sign up for guided bird walks and nature hikes.

Hudson – For incredible views of the Newark Bay waterfront and New York City skyline, try Stephen R. Gregg Park in Bayonne. This century-old park has a half-mile waterfront promenade with spectacular views, plus 100 acres of recreation facilities including athletic fields, running track, cross country course, horseshoe pit and tennis and bocce courts.

Hunterdon – Point Mountain County Park in Glen Gardner has a real "Highlands" feel to it, with an Appalachian rocky precipice overlooking the pastoral Musconetcong Valley.  A trail winds northeast along the forested ridge, then dips down the other side, across wetlands and a tiny stream, and descends via dirt road to fields of corn or sunflowers before reaching the Musconetcong River. 

Mercer – The Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain in Hopewell Township has over 12 miles of marked trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. A walk to the grassy summit of Baldpate, the highest point in Mercer County, offers a spectacular view of the Delaware River and the City of Trenton.

Middlesex – Located on the banks of the Raritan River in Piscataway and Highland Park – across from the city of New Brunswick - Johnson Park is filled with activity all year long. In addition to trails and picnic groves, the park has an animal haven and a restored 18th century village, East Jersey Olde Towne.

Monmouth – You may think of the shore area as flat, but Hartshorne Woods Park in Atlantic Highlands is anything but. A hilly, forested 794-acre site overlooking the Navesink River, this park is among the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast and features prominently in area history as a former coastal defense site.  Hartshorne Woods is a popular spot for area hikers, bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

Morris – Tucked in the woods at the southern end of the county, the adjoining Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center in Chester Township are two parks in one – over 200 acres connected by trails, including part of the county’s vast Patriots’ Path network. The Arboretum is especially beautiful in the spring when trees are in bloom.

Ocean –"The Gateway to the Pines," Jakes Branch County Park in Beachwood offers both active and passive recreation. Breathtaking views of the Pine Barrens can be enjoyed from an observation deck perched five stories atop the park’s nature center. The park also has over eight miles of nature trails for hiking and biking, a picnic area, playground, and playing fields.

Passaic –For a rugged hiking experience amid gorgeous scenery, try the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford. This 576-acre park includes the Butler Reservoir at its center and miles of hiking trails winding past a waterfall, an old dam and historic remains of an old water treatment plant.

Salem – For wildlife viewing in the Salem River area, try Camp Crockett County Park in Pilesgrove Township. Walking paths lead to the Avis Millpond, a favorite of local paddlers and bird watchers. The park also includes a playground and a covered pavilion for picnics.

Somerset – Many county parks are compact, but Somerset County’s Sourland Mountain Preserve in Hillsborough and Montgomery townships covers more than 6,000 rocky acres in the heart of central New Jersey.  Enjoy scrambling over boulder fields in the Devil’s Half Acre and Roaring Rocks sections.

Sussex – Sussex County doesn’t have a park system, but that may be because the area – home to the fabulous Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area - is already so rich in recreation.

Union – The gem of Union County is the Watchung Reservation, which covers parts of four towns.  Lake Surprise offers canoeing, kayaking and fishing; there’s a network of nature trails is connected to the Trailside Nature and Science Center; and Watchung Stables has miles of bridle trails.

Warren – For history and outdoor buffs, Port Warren Park is located along the historic Morris Canal greenway and is home to “Inclined Plane 9 West,” the longest on the canal. In use from the 1820s to the 1920s, the Morris Canal stretched 102 miles from the Delaware River in Phillipsburg to the Hudson River in Jersey City. Overcoming a height elevation of 914 feet, it became known as the “Mountain Climbing Canal” and was a major engineering feat of its day.

There are so many more county parks to choose from, you’ll never get tired of exploring. Enjoy spring and check out our county parks!

And to learn about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at



NJ Natural Lands Trust celebrates 50 years

Must love bats!

Move and improve your health!

Renewable energy: Save money and our land, water, air and health

Speak up for endangered species!

Save the bugs!

Check out New Jersey's fall bird migration

A little bit of respect...for native plants!

Explore New Jersey's wildflower meadows

All aboard floating classrooms

Catch the Perseids meteor shower!

Check out the 'fun' in fungi

Too hot to think? Studies shows heat affects your brain

Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley


October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011


New Jersey Conservation Foundation on FacebookNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on TwitterNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on FlickrNew Jersey Conservation Foundation YouTube ChannelShare      
New Jersey Conservation Foundation           Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931           908-234-1225 
home  | nj statewide eventscontact us  |  sitemap  |  privacy policy  |  DONATE