Updated: Jun 9
*Not all activities may be open due to COVID-19
Tucked away in the hills of Essex County is South Mountain Reservation. This nature reserve covers 2,110 acres and features hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and a 25ft waterfall known as Hemlock Falls. Here's all you need to know and more about visiting the reservation!
The reservation holds a vast amount of trails with various terrains and skill levels. One of the top hikes here is the Hemlock Falls Trail via Lenape (Yellow) Trail, Rahway Trail (White) and River Trail. This hike is rated as easy and is about 6 miles in length. As you may have guessed from the name, the feature of this trail is Hemlock Falls. Be prepared as the terrain can get rough at some points, and mud is typical to come by.
If you're visiting with family or small children and looking for an easier stroll, you might want to give the Orange Reservoir Loop a try! This hike comes in at just under 2 miles and is more of a stroll around the reservoir. The paved path with no to little inclines makes it great for little kids, strollers, and wheelchairs. For more hikes in the reservation, you should check out All Trails.com
The Wildflower Sculpture Park opened in 2012 and was initially installed to lure visitors into the wildflower preserve, which is near the sculpture park. Since then, the park has continued to thrive with new sculptures being introduced and changed every year. Currently, there are four new cultures on display by various artists. The Sculpture Park is located just outside of the dog park.
The South Mountain Dog Park was added to the reservation in 2006. The park is about 2 acres in size and is divided into two, a section for large dogs and a section for small dogs.
Located in the West Orange end of the reservation is the recreation complex, which houses a The Water Front, Mini-golf Course, Treetop Adventure Course, and the well known Turtle Back Zoo.
The Waterfront - The waterfront is where you'll find the children's playground, which is the new addition to the Rec Complex. Inspired by the reservoir it features a nautical boating theme. Also, in the waterfront, you'll find the Resivour walking trail mentioned above. This is also where the Paddle Boat Launch is located.
Turtle Back Zoo - Rated as the number one zoo in New Jersey, the Turtle Back Zoo offers a chance to see a variety of animals in your own back yard! The zoo is an accredited zoo and is placed amongst the top zoos and aquariums in the United States. Some exhibits you can find here is African Adventure, Amazing Asia, and The Tropical Currents Aquarium. This is an excellent day trip for adults and kids of all ages!
Tree Top Adventure Course - This world-class ariel obstacle course gives thrill speakers of all ages the chance to climb around dozens of feet above the ground! There is an adult course which takes up to 1.5 hours and a junior course that takes up to 45 minutes to complete.
Mini-Golf Safari - Mini-Golf Safari - Travel around the safaris of Africa while you play a game on this 19 hole mini-golf course.
Photos provided by AllTrails.Com