UNION COUNTY, NJ - Get ready, get set, and mark your calendar so you don’t miss the month-long series of Walks, Strolls & Rolls in Union County Parks in April.
As a way of introducing the public to parks they may know little about, Union County Parks & Recreation staff and volunteers will be leading walks, strolls and rolls in four parks, and include everything from birding to a swamp trek.
“The Union County Park system includes 36 parks, with well over 6,000 acres, scattered across the county. But there is a tendency for people to only know the parks near them,” said Bruce Bergen, Chairman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“We would like folks to experience some parks that they may know little about and learn more of what our wonderful Parks system has to offer, from miles of paved paths that can accommodate strollers and wheelchairs, to Nature’s unveiling of spring in the Ash Brook Reservation, where the plants are just beginning to poke their shoots through the ground,” Bergen said.
Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados, who is the liaison to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, stated:
“This is an outstanding opportunity for residents to get to know our County Parks system better through the expertise of our personnel,” said Granados. “This program has something to offer everybody who has an interest in our parks system.”
The April hikes, which will last about an hour, will be on different days and times, depending upon the park. No registration is required and there are no age restrictions. Participants should bring a bottle of water and dress appropriately.
Walks, Strolls & Rolls will be held at:
-- Lenape Park, The Boulevard, Kenilworth. If you’ve ever considered taking up birding, or would just like to spend a morning seeing our winged friends, this is the perfect time of year because many species stop off in Lenape on their Spring migration north. Ed Zboyan, a member of the Friends of Lenape, will lead the walks, which will start from the parking lot at the old skeet range. Walks are scheduled for 9 a.m. and will be held on Saturdays at the beginning of the month, and Tuesdays later in the month, for folks who find their weekends already overloaded. The walks will be April 1,8,15,18,25.
-- Watchung Reservation, Trailside Nature & Science Center, 452 New Providence Rd., Mountainside. Ever wonder what mysteries await in the Res? Join Trailside Naturalist Roslyn Dvorin on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. to find out. These walks are scheduled for April 1,8,15,22. Why no April 29? Because you are cordially invited to come the following day, April 30, for Wild Earth Fest and Touch A Truck, so it will be all hands on deck to get ready.
-- Echo Lake Park, between Mountain & Springfield Avenues, Mountainside. While these Wednesday morning walks at 10 a.m. are open to all, these Stroll & Rolls are open to friends and family who use strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, or any other wheeled conveyance. The path through Echo Lake is paved and part of the County’s greenway system, so participants will get a chance to see some of the beautiful areas in the parks system that are so easily accessible. The meet-up for these walks will be at the gazebo and will be led by parks staffer Nicole DeAugustine, who works with the disabled, on April 5,12,19, & 26.
--Ash Brook Reservation, Raritan Road, Scotch Plains. Boots are advised because of the extremely wet ground in some areas of Ash Brook. The hikes will be on Thursdays, at 10 a.m. and are scheduled for April 7, 14, 21 & 28. Trail Steward Marc Grobman will lead the way through the undiscovered country and explain the amazing environment that also played a role in the 1777 Battle of the Short Hills.
Ash Brook Reservation may well be one of the county’s least-known and most natural parks. In just over a mile you’ll walk up and over forested Horse Hobble Hill, cross Ash Brook Swamp, and suddenly ascend strikingly different Red Hill, an arid meadow reminiscent of the South Jersey Pine Barrens.
Grobman, an Adopt-A-Trail volunteer, has helped maintain the trails here for years and will share much of what he has learned, including the berries that Civil War soldiers used to produce ink for writing letters, a tree once used to make root beer and is still used to make gumbo, and point out the skunk cabbage that produces such an awful smell.