Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
The Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is a 150-acre preserve in the remnants of the Palisades Forest. It has 3.6 miles of wooded hiking trails and a nature center building in the midst of a densely populated area of northern New Jersey.
In the 1960s when residential development was booming, the city of Englewood applied for and received funds for land conservation from the state under the Green Acres program. The city began purchasing the land around the Flat Rock Brook, preventing Van Nostrand Avenue from becoming a continuous road and housing development.
The Englewood Nature Association (later renamed the Flat Rock Brook Nature Association) was founded in 1973. The association managed the nature center, educational programs and the trails.
I explored the preserve with Take A Hike NJ. Volunteer Rachel led our group on a 2-mile hike on some of the trails, pointing out some of the different environments.
We first walked the short boardwalk trail through an area that used to be a quarry. The operations here produced crushed diabase basalt, likely used in the construction of Route 4.
There are some resident raptors in an enclosure off the boardwalk trail. The hawks and owls living here are ambassador animals who would not survive in the wild.
We then walked the white and red trails through deciduous forest and wetlands where the center has built deer exclosures to try to get the forest understory to grow back. We passed by the Mystery Bridge (no one knows how it got there…it was just there one day.)
Location: 443 Van Nostrand Ave, Englewood, NJ 07631
Designation: Nature Center/City Park
Date designated or established: 1973
Date of my visit: 11/17/2019