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A Tour of Chatham Township

by: Sue Adler
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For a great chance to learn about the town of Chatham and its wealth of natural beauty, take a driving tour of  Chatham Township. This incredible location was shaped by the Wisconsin Glacier more than 15,000 years ago. The glacier stopped in the area now known as Madison Avenue. It pushed gravel and sand, and after it melted the Great Swamp, one of the biggest lakes in the area, was formed. The Township sits in the bottom of the old Lake Passaic. The Passaic River is divided from the Great Swamp by the Watchung Mountains.

Take the drive and see for yourself this incredible Township and its amazing surroundings. As you get out of the Town Hall Parking Lot and enter Meyersville Road, you will encounter the Great Swamp passing by Molino, Lisa and Dogwood Drives. From Meyersville Road, you will enter Apple Tree Drive where you can climb a hill and have an unobstructed view of the Great Swamp. Stop there for a couple of minutes and take in the view. The next stop is  Susan Drive. From here, you will be able to see the Passaic River. Keep in mind that the ridge is quite steep, so drive carefully. From Susan Drive take Marion Road and then Henry Drive until you get to River Road.

As you approach River Road, look out for a sign that says Morris County Park. Here, you will have a chance to visit the Passaic River Park. Follow the road, drive through the floodplain and admire the landscape where lots of open areas that protect the river enable unparalleled views. You will come across a steeper section located above the road called the Steep Slope Conservation Zone featuring one property on every two and a half acres. On the right you’ll notice two volunteer fire departments. As you keep driving, you will see the Cardinal Hill Condo complexes, as well as attractions like Briarwood, Coachlight Square, Sutton Woods, Vernon Grove and Condos Heritage Green. Stick to Heritage Drive and then go on Mt. Vernon Avenue and River Road. Along the way, you’ll pass Dixiedale Farms, where you can enjoy a good old fashioned holiday experience cutting down your own Christmas tree.

Next, I recommend you take Steep Snake Hill Road, but use extra caution in wintertime as this road can present hazardous conditions. As you get to the top of the hill turn to Fairmount Avenue, home of the 18th century Little Red School House and the old Historical Society Museum that used to be a Town Hall. On Fairmount there are plenty of things to see, including the Passaic River Valley and the volcanic rock ridge. From Fairmount you can enter an old neighborhood called Chatham Borough. From there on you will travel through the town and the woodlands for a great chance to observe nature,  shopping centers and Hickory Square. You can return on Fairmount Avenue, go on Johnson Drive and Candace Lane and get back to the Great Swamp and Meyersville Road.

A trip packed with history, nature and plenty of good eating.  Have fun!

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