Posted by: RasmaSandra | October 1, 2018

New Jersey Off the Beaten Path

NJ highpoint

High Point State Park in Sussex in the 1800s was a part of an elegant private resort. There was a carriage road leading up to High Point Inn. From there a short distance away was New Jersey’s highest peak from which guests could enjoy panoramic views of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Years later the inn was made into a smaller lodge and in the 1920s the property was given to the state of New Jersey and opened to the public.

The most prominent feature in the 14,000-acre park is the granite-faced obelisk that rises 220 ft. from the top of High Point. On the inside stairs lead up to the top of the monument from which you can see for some 40 miles. The park has forests, lakes, creeks, glens, swamps and old farm fields. Animals love the park there are white-tailed deer, some black bears and at times a bobcat may be sighted. Several species of hawks and other raptors fly about as well as bluebirds and the occasional wild turkey may be seen.

NJ lake marcia

Lake Marcia

Within the park are nine hiking trails and trail guides are available at the visitor center. The park’s day-use area has spring-fed Lake Marcia which has a beach for swimmers and tree-shaded picnic tables. At Sawmill Lake is a private retreat for campers. The lake is stocked with trout, bass, pickerel and on winter weekends one may come to enjoy ice fishing.

NJ ford-mansion

Morristown National Historical Park – In the winter of 1779 General George Washington needed an encampment for the Continental Army from which a close eye could be kept on the British in New York City. This made Morristown a strategic location. Mrs. Jacob Ford, Jr. whose husband had died during one of the early campaigns offered the use of her home to General and Mrs. Washington. The Georgian style frame mansion is furnished about the same as it was in the general’s time. There are leaflets available for self-guiding tours through the rooms.

NJ wick

About half an hour from the headquarters at the village of Jockey Hollow nearly 1,200 huts were constructed for the soldiers. Today this is a 1,800-acre park with woodlands, meadows, and brooks. The 26 miles of trails are used for hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Behind the Jockey Hollow visitor’s center, one can find open fields, an old apple orchard, a recreation of an 18th-century farm garden and the Wick farmhouse where General Arthur St. Clair was headquartered. There is a park library and museum as well.

NJ redmill

Clinton Historical Museum Village – The buildings comprising this picturesque community date from the mid-18th century to the early 1900s. The Old Red Mill would grind whatever was profitable at the time. The one built in the 1760s ground flaxseed to make linseed oil. In later years grain was ground and then limestone. The mill was finally closed in1920. Today it is a museum on whose top floor is a working model of a typical mill. The other three floors have displays showing early-day life in this area. Visitors can also see an old schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, a general store and post office, a log cabin and the stone crusher and kilns used to process limestone quarried from the cliffs.

NJ sandy hook lighthouse nice

Sandy Hook Unit, Gateway National Recreation Area – For over 200 years this sandpit in lower New York Bay has been identified with military defense and the saving of lives at sea. In colonial times the shallows were known as a graveyard for ships. In 1764 a lighthouse was constructed that could cast a light visible for 15 miles. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, this light was of primary value to the British and the colonists tried to destroy it. However, the light was saved by the enemy. Now the lighthouse is maintained by the Coast Guard and is the oldest working lighthouse in the country. It has been designated as a national historic landmark. Located here is Fort Hancock built in the late 19th century and in operation until the 1970s. Now one can explore the barracks, mess halls, officers’ houses and the other buildings in this old army town.

NJ sandy hook beach

Sandy Hook also offers miles of ocean beach, dunes, and salt marsh home to egrets, ospreys and other protected birds. Trails lead through the dunes and to a unique holly forest on the bay side.

NJ monmouth-battlefield

Monmouth Battlefield State Park – The battle here during the American Revolution on June 28, 1778, enhanced the morale of the Continental Army. It was the first time that the colonials had engaged the British in open field combat and stood them off. At a critical point in the conflict Major General Charles Lee retreated instead of attacking as ordered, and the British, after a day of fighting, were able to move out under cover of darkness and safely make their way northward. General Lee was court-martialed. There is an illuminated diorama in the visitor center showing the sequence of the battle hour by hour. A reenactment of the Battle of Monmouth is an annual event at the park in late June.

NJ Craig_House_fs

The center also provides information on historic Craig House and the Owl Haven Nature Center which can be reached by trails in the park. John Craig’s shingle and clapboard house on the battlefield has been restored. Craig was a paymaster for the local militia. The house which was built in 1710 has seven rooms, three fireplaces, a cold cellar and a sleeping area for slaves. The nature center displays live owls, reptiles, and amphibians as well as mounted birds and other nature-related specimens.

NJ double

Double Trouble State Park – There is a wilderness of woods and marsh in the Pine Barrens. The park’s history goes back to the late 18th century when a sawmill was built and a dam constructed for waterpower. When at the end of the 19th century there was a shortage of timber people started growing cranberries. The land was sold to the state in 1965 but the sawmill and cranberry operation are still in business.

Within the park’s 5,000 acres are a general store, cranberry packing house, one-room schoolhouse, migrants’ cottage, and other early day buildings. There is a self-guiding nature trail which crosses Cedar Creek. The water has a red tint which is caused by cedar bark and iron deposits. The air is filled with the scent of cedar and in season rhododendrons, mountain laurel, sweet bay, and fragrant honeysuckle bloom beneath sassafras trees, pitch pines and red maples. One can see great blue herons, egrets, pigeon hawks and quails. For fishing, there are pickerel and catfish. Cedar Creek is popular with canoeists and canoes can be rented here.

NJ wharton 2

Wharton State Forest – can be found on Rte. 542 of the Garden State Parkway. This large forest has mostly pines, with some cedar and mixed hardwoods. Within the forest are Batsto and Mullica rivers, Atsion Lake, several streams, nature trails, a long hiking trail and a number of campgrounds.

NJ batsto mansion

Mansion in Batsto

The major feature is the restored iron-making village of Batsto. The combination of iron ore from the local bogs and fuel from the dense forests led to the establishment of many small iron-producing centers in southern New Jersey in the late 18th century. Local forges made water pipes, stoves, firebacks, kettles, and other necessities during the Revolution and the War of 1812, they supplied firearms and ammunition. When coal from Pennsylvania became available, the wood-burning forges could not compete. In the mid-1800s glass factories were built but they also failed. Batsto may have disappeared as did similar villages if not for Joseph Wharton of Philadelphia. He bought the property and started redevelopment in 1976.

The 39 buildings include the ironmaster’s handsome mansion, the general store, the post office, sawmill, smithy, shops, barns, and ironworkers’ houses. During the summer various early American crafts are demonstrated in the village. Adjoining the village is a nature area and the 40-mile Batona Wilderness Trail.

NJ atsion

The Atsion Lake area is about a 20-minute drive from Batsto. There one can find a playground, picnic area, swimming beach, and canoes and boats for rent. The forest offers shelter for many birds and other wildlife. One can fish for pike, pickerel, perch, and bass. There are 500 miles of sandy roads in the forest for hiking, horseback riding, four-wheel drive vehicles, and snowmobiles in season.






  1. Beautiful. Loved the animals too

    • Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the tour, Crystal.

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