If you are looking for an entertaining adventure in the outdoors, you may want to consider a visit to the Watchung Reservation. With more than 13 miles of trails for hiking in and around the Watchung Mountains, the trails provide ample opportunity to stretch your legs and explore the 2,065-acre preserve near Mountainside if you live in Union County, and are located just off RT 78 and RT 22. You can witness the beauty of natural woodlands, fields, lakes, streams and all the plants and wildlife that surround them.
Within the reservation, you will find the Trailside Nature & Science Center, an Environmental Education Center, remodeled in September 2006, where you will discover 4,500 square feet of interactive, state-of-the art exhibits. Of special note is the immense 34-foot American beech tree exhibit which encompasses the Center’s atrium. You may also enjoy visiting the classrooms for a total glimpse of the reservation at large, and exploring the multipurpose room, children’s discovery room, library, and large, 250-seat auditorium used for special events and trainings. You should also visit the Mastodon Exhibit while you are there to view amazing pieces of ancient history, bones more than 25,000 years old and fish fossils, that are esteemed to be more than 250 million years.
Lake Surprise and Blue Brook are noted as relaxing to travel, as is the trail to the Village of Feltville, an abandones town. However for a longer hike, the western side of the reservation may be more your speed. Basalt ridge lines, forests and pine groves can be found there. As the trails contain many loops, make sure you consult with the Center’s map to ensure your safety and not your location. The map can be seen here if you would like to plan your visit ahead of time.
Classes are offered all seasons on a variety of topics, from yoga and healthy cooking to gardening, photography and birding basics. Pre-school, family, and children’s classes and camps are available as well. To view their 2012 summer collection of classes, please click here. To see a general list of events offered year-round, visit the Trailside Nature and Science Center Website by clicking here.