History Trail at Watchung Reservation
hiking

Hiking the History Trail at Watchung Reservation

Recently my good friend, Christine, and I met up at Watchung Reservation for a hike. Christine was one of my first friends in NJ. We’ve been to probably 30 diners together, but never a hike! We always said we would hike, so we finally decided to put the plan in motion.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation

I went to Watchung Reservation once before, but it was a dreary day. The park easily floods and I quickly found that out! The day we went, it was a hot summer day but it wasn’t busy at all. In fact, we only saw about 4 other people while hiking the History Trail at Watchung Reservation. Christine said it does get fairly busy on the weekends with every parking spot full.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation
History Trail at Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation is located in Union County, New Jersey. Most of the History Trail at Watchung Reservation is done on the Pink Trail. The Watchung Reservation History Trail is about 6.3 miles and the most popular trail at Watchung Reservation. As the name suggests it has a lot of history from the old houses to a gorge and copper mine shafts.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation

Starting Off at Watchung Reservation:

There is a Trailside Nature and Science Center with plenty of parking areas. You can visit the visitors center, trailside or Museum to get a trail map. The history trail isn’t the only hiking trail and there are plenty of trails around Watchung Mountain. Christine was telling me about the 10 mile Sierra Trail White which sounds like an adventure.  But there are plenty of shorter nature trails too.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation

Getting on the History Trail at Watchung Reservation:

During the first couple of miles, we passed the gorge. The further along you go, the more breathtaking it gets. You would never expect a giant gorge to be cut out right in the middle of NJ.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation
History Trail at Watchung Reservation Gorge

After the gorge, you hike more on the History Trail with a few climbs.  Next, you’ll see a few abandoned homes, which are also known as the Deserted Village of Feltville. You’ll see old ruins, as well as a historical marker, talking about the Feltville Mill Site. If you look up, you can see the ruins of the Feltville Mill Site in the hillside.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation Copper mine
History Trail at Watchung Reservation Copper Mine

Then you’ll continue to hike up with one of the more steep climbs on the hike. Finally, it will level out, and you’ll find yourself in a cornfield. Ironically, you are also right near route I-78 and can hear and see cars in the distance (literally, you are maybe 100 feet). It looks like a picture-perfect spot but I can imagine during rush hour all you hear are cars.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation

Then you hike back down and head towards Surprise Lake. Lake Surprise is my favorite part of the hike. Maybe because you are almost done? Or just it’s beautiful. It’s a flat and scenic trail and you might see kayakers in the lake. After the Lake Surprise parking lot, you climb back up and find yourself back at the parking lot.

We also passed the “lost and found” which appeared to be all dog leashes?

History Trail at Watchung Reservation
History Trail at Watchung Reservation Lost and Found

I appreciate the Watchung Reservation because there is a lot of history too it. You aren’t just hiking and there is a lot to learn. It’s a relatively easy hike.  There are a few challenging and steep climbs but nothing overly strenuous.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation

If you’re ever in Union County, I highly recommend Watchung Reservation.  I’ve been to Watchung Reservation twice now. While both have been entirely different experiences, they’ve both been enjoyable.

History Trail at Watchung Reservation

You can see more hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to the Watchung Reservation?

Do you enjoy historical hikes?

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