Explore South Mountain Reservation

The South Mountain Reservation is a nature reserve within the Essex County Park System. It is the largest park in the county and it comprises over 2,000 acres.

Located just a short drive from campus, the park provides plentiful opportunities for people to get outside and relax in nature. The Reservation is located between the first and second ridges of the Watchung Mountains. It features an Olmsted-designed landscape and a variety of easy to moderate trail options, including hiking trails as well as multi-use carriage roads for jogging, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. Many of the walkways and stone bridges were built in the 1930s by the Army Corps of Engineers. The 40 mile-long Lenape trail (yellow blazes) runs for 6 miles through the length of the reserve.

From hours-long hikes to nature walks, the reserve affords visitors a variety of options to engage with nature. So pack a snack and plenty of water and hit the road!

Bridle Paths

Visitors to the reservation are invited to explore its multi-use bridle paths, some of which were constructed over 100 years ago. Records show that by 1920 over 13 miles of trails traversed the park. These older trails generally followed the…

Hemlock Falls

Hemlock Falls is accessible from a variety of different trails with varying distances. You can reach it via the Lenape (yellow), Rahway (white) and River trail loop which totals just under six miles. This route has rugged, rocky terrain in some…

Black Rock Falls

Located just up the trail from Hemlock Falls, Black Rock Falls is a waterfall fed by natural springs located within the South Mountain Reservation. If you visit this area at a less popular time of day, you are likely encounter some wildlife. The…

The Glens

Before the land parcels were purchased to make the reservation, it was used for a variety of industrial needs by the surrounding communities. Not only was the waters of the Rahway River harnessed for local mills but trees were cut down to provide the…

Rock Hole on Rahway River

The West Branch is dammed in several places, forming a reservoir and small ponds. Structures along the Rahway River provide evidence of the region's industrial past. For centuries, local community members have used the river for fishing and to…

Brookside Drive

Brookside Drive runs through South Mountain Reservation's protected deciduous forests and alongside Campbells Pond. Multiple trailheads can be accessed via small parking lots along the Drive, including a trailhead for the Hemlock Falls…

Ball's Bluff

This wooded area is named after a former resident of Maplewood named Philander Ball. In 1896 he sold 3.5 acres of his land to the South Mountain Reservation Commission. This sale was integral to the Reservation's founding as it was the first…

Washington Rock

A focal point of the South Mountain Reservation, Washington Rock is located at the end of Crest Drive, which is closed to vehicular traffic. It is also a short hike from the Locust Grove Parking Lot. Washington Rock is a Revolutionary War historic…