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South Mountain Reservation covers 2,110 acres in northeastern New Jersey. It straddles the Rahway River in the Watchung Mountains and is part of the Essex County Park System.
Essex County began developing its park system in the 1800s. The county set South Mountain aside as a nature preserve in 1895. The Olmsted Brothers, noted for New York’s Central Park and working with the National Park Service on many projects, designed the reservation.
There are waterfalls, a reservoir and woodland trails galore in South Mountain Reservation. The Turtle Back Zoo lies within the reservation’s boundaries. When I visited on a cold January day with TakeaHikeNJ, we walked the easy Fairy Trail and admired the Fae dwellings.
Later, we hiked part of the Lenape Trail. The Lenape Trail runs for 34 miles, connecting Essex County’s many parks. The section we walked leads up a steep incline. The climb brings you to Washington Rock, Quarry Overlook and Maple Cascades. However, I didn’t make it that far, so will have to return.
Location: 197 Glen Ave, Millburn, NJ 07041
Designation: County Park
Date Designated/Established: 1895
Date of my visit: January 10, 2021