Watchung Reserve - NJ Travel Blog› entry 764 of 1090 › view all entries
Watchung is a borough in New Jersey. The name always gives me the feeling that I have to be really careful. Probably because it sounds like a combination of the English word "Watch (it)" and the German word "Achtung" (attention!). The origin of the word, by the way, comes probably form the Lenape Indian language in which Wachunk means "high hills".
Watchung Reserve is situated within the urban Watchung area and is a nice 7.8-km² (1945 acre) nature reservation that shows what the hills of this area looked like in the past. The Reserve is located, like a kind of Central Park, next to the houses.
Although it comes close to an untouched area, the area itself has been affected by man in the past. There was (and still is) quarry activity, agriculture, activity in a water powered paper mill, there has been a complete village (Feltville), and there is still a cemetery.
The ghost village of Feltville drew my attention of course. It was founded in 1844 by business man David Felt. Felt built a mill in this area and in order to house his workers he constructed several houses that grew into Feltville. Felt also built a church and a school. The village prospered for 15 years. Then Felt sold the property and the village got deserted. In 1882 it was bought and transformed into a vacation resort. But after the invention of the automobile vacationers preferred the Jersey Shore. The village got once more deserted and got added to the Watchung Reserve.
I hiked almost the whole Sierra Trail, the longest trail in the reserve. This trail leads along the entire reserve and its special places. Although the maximum valley-summit height difference is only 90 meters (295 ft) the fact that you keep walking up and down makes it still a challenging hike! I spent almost 4.5 hours in the Reservation and arrived back at the car almost half an hour after sunset. Just in time for the complete darkness.
More pictures below!