What better time than autumn to explore all the beautiful parks located throughout New Jersey? The leaves on the trees are starting to change colors and there’s a slight chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather to grab a sweater and enjoy time outdoors with your friends and family. Here are our picks for 8 beautiful NJ parks to visit this fall.
Allaire State Park
Location: 4265 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale
Details: Over 200 different species of wildflowers, trees and plants can be found in the 3205 acres of Allaire State Park. Spend the day observing them all as you hike the trails or kayak along the Manasquan River. Don’t forget to stop at Historic Allaire Village, a living history museum showcasing early 19th century life. Or take a vintage train ride on the Pine Creek Railroad and enjoy the sights of fall.
Why I like it: Historic Allaire Village hosts special events almost every weekend, from its fall flea markets to haunted hayrides in October.
More info: www.state.nj.us or call 732-938-2371
Cooper River Park
Location: 5300 North Park Drive, Pennsauken
Details: Walk, run or bike over five miles of loops to see all the beauty that Cooper River Park has to offer. With nearly 350 acres of park situated in Pennsauken, Cherry Hill, Collingswood and Haddon Township, this popular riverside spot boasts hiking trails, bike paths, picnic areas and a children’s playground. It’s the perfect place for an evening stroll while glimpsing the Philadelphia skyline.
Why I like it: If the weather’s favorable, you can rent a canoe or kayak by the hour.
More info: www.camdencounty.com or call 856-216-2117
Jenny Jump State Forest
Location: 330 State Park Road, Hope
Details: In the mood for a good hike? This 4,466-acre state forest offers 14 miles of trails covering rolling terrain as you head to the top of Jenny Jump Mountain. Enjoy scenic views of the mountain ranges around you, as well as Ghost Lake down below. Camping is available and the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey hosts Saturday night stargazing sessions through the end of October.
Why I like it: This area has frequent sightings of black bears, so you just may have an encounter with one at Jenny Jump! Pick up an educational brochure at the park office to learn more.
More info: www.state.nj.us or call 908-459-4366
Location: 425 East Broad Street, Westfield
Details: It’s not uncommon to pass by a photo shoot taking place in Mindowaskin Park when driving through downtown Westfield. Whether for wedding pictures, family shots or an engagement session, this small but picturesque park provides the perfect backdrop. Sit in the gazebo to people watch or stroll around the lake to see the ducks and the fountain. There’s also a playground for the kids to enjoy, making this a fun day outdoors for the whole family.
Why I like it: Mindowaskin Park is just steps away from downtown Westfield, a shopper’s delight with chic boutiques and top-notch restaurants.
More info: www.mindowaskinpark.org or call 908-233-0028
Location: 2 Main Street, Peapack
Details: This Somerset County stunner, formerly owned by the King of Morocco, is home to rolling hills, wooded trails, fields and meadows. Bring the whole family and take in the beauty of fall on a relaxing autumn hike. Stroll along the scenic North Branch of the Raritan River on the 1.3 mile Great Meadow Trail or the 1 mile Upper Field Nature Trail. Visitors can also jog, bike or even horseback ride along the gorgeous trails.
Why I like it: Fishing is available in designated areas of Natirar; check the online map for details.
More info: www.somersetcountyparks.org or call 908-781-2560
Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park
Location: 72 McBride Avenue, Paterson
Details: You don’t have to travel far to find breathtaking views of a spectacular waterfall. Paterson’s 77-foot high Great Falls is one of the country’s largest and well-known waterfalls. The falls are best viewed from Haines Overlook Park on the south and Mary Ellen Kramer Park on the north. Take a self-guided tour or sign up for a guided walking tour, offered daily at at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Why I like it: Kids can join the Junior Ranger program and learn more about the mission of the National Park Service. Pick up an information book at the park’s welcome center.
More info: www.nps.gov or call 973-523-0370
Swartswood State Park
Location: 1091 East Shore Road, Swartswood
Details: New Jersey’s first state park was established in 1915 and remains a historic landmark today. Centered around the state’s third largest freshwater lake, Swartswood Lake, the park offers outdoor activities throughout the year. This is a great autumn spot for hiking, biking, camping, fishing, picnicking and bird watching. The park has ten hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty, perfect for novice and experienced hikers alike.
Why I like it: Want to stay all night? Rent a campsite or shelter for the evening – there are even pet-friendly campsites available!
More info: www.state.nj.us or call 973-383-5230
Wharton State Forest
Location: 31 Batsto Road, Hammonton
Details: The 115,000-acre Wharton State Forest is made up of pinelands and is the largest state forest in New Jersey. Hike to the top of Apple Pie Hill (part of the 50-mile Batona Trail) to take in panoramic views of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Check out historic Batsto Village, a former bog iron and glass making industrial center, or stop by Harrisville, a real 19th century ghost town. Canoeing is also available on the Mullica, Batsto, Wading and Oswego Rivers.
Why I like it: Take a break at the Atsion Recreation Area, where you’ll find a picnic area, restrooms and a concession stand.
More info: www.state.nj.us or call 609-561-0024
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: © hildeanna/Adobe Stock
- Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
- Todd Binger/flickr
- Facebook/Cooper River Park
- Nicholas A. Tonelli/flickr
- Facebook/The Friends of Mindowaskin Park, Inc. Westfield, NJ
- Siddharth Mallya/Wikimedia
- Facebook/Paterson Great Falls NHP