Compiled and Photographed by: Sarah Einhorn of beentheredonethattrips.com for TLS.
I love nature. In my book spending a nice summer day outdoors is ideal. Finding a kosher spot that is not overrun with people dressed inappropriately can be challenging at times. Here are some ideas of nature places in the tri state area that were not especially busy or conducive to attracting the types of people we try to avoid during the summertime.
I was surprised at how amazing the Norvin Green State Forest hike is since I came across it by mistake. We hiked up the mountain and then back down. The view from the top was breathtaking! On a clear day you can even see New York City.
Parking for the trail head is at the Weis Ecology Center on Snake Den Road. We crossed a field with old bungalows on the side and then got to the trailhead. There is a map on a sign post at the trail head.
I cannot recall definitely which trail we followed up, although I do think it was the High Point hike. I am told by the experts that whichever you follow is worth the hike. The hike we took was neither very hard nor very easy. There were times when the path was steep and there were many rocks along the way.
We took the hike in the spring time. Most trees were not in bloom yet. Even so there was a beautiful view up on top. There are many large boulders up on top. It is probably even nicer when the trees are full of leaves.
150 Snake Den Rd
Ringwood, NJ 07456
Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour
Lakewood: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Monsey: 35 minutes
The Saddle River County Park is a 577 acre park which consists of five separate parks, with bike paths, streams and tributaries connecting them. Each of the parks, aside for the Fairlawn Park, has a playground. Some have ponds and picnic areas.
So far I’ve been to the Wild Duck Pond Area, The Dunkerhook Area and the Glenrock Area. Each of the parks is enjoyable in its own right.
The Ridgewood area park, also known as the Wild Duck Pond, has a large playground, pond, picnic area and a bike path that runs alongside a stream. I would suggest visiting this park if you have family members who will not bike. The path from this park connects to the Glen Rock and Dunkerhook areas.
The Dunkerhook Area features a playground suitable for young children, picnic tables and a waterfall a short walk or bike ride from the playground area. There are signs at the bike bath entrance that have the distances of each place and directions posted. The Dunkerhook bike path connects to The Glen Rock Area, The Wild Duck Pond and the Fairlawn Area.
The Glen Rock Area has a pond with a sprinkler in the center. There is a large covered picnic area and a playground more suitable for older kids than the Dunkerhook area. The biking path connects to the Wild Duck Pond Area and the Dunkerhook area.
If you enjoy biking it does not really matter which park you visit as the parks connect easily to each other.
See maps below for addresses of each park. The parks are located in Bergen County, NJ.
Raymondskill Falls: Milford, PA
I never tire of visiting waterfalls. I love watching the water cascade down majestically.
Near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania, right by the New Jersey border, are some magnificent waterfalls. Best part is they are free. Two very large waterfalls in the area are Dingmans Falls and Raymondskill Falls.
Raymondskill Falls, a beautiful three-tiered waterfall cascading down, is only a few minute walk from the through a wide path in the woods down to the waterfall. The hike to the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania is only 0.3 miles. There are two viewing areas. The Upper viewing area offers views of the top section of the waterfall and the pool as well as the top of the second section. The lower viewing area offers a beautiful view of the whole waterfall.
917 Raymondskill Road
Milford, PA 18337
Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Lakewood: 2 hour, 5 minutes
Monsey: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Dingmans Falls: Delaware Township, PA
We were lucky that the maps we used sent us to the parking area for Dingmans Creek Trail instead of to the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center was closed due to Covid during our April visit last year and the walk from the Visitor’s Center to the bottom of the falls is neither especially short nor especially scenic, whereas the walk from the parking lot to the falls via the Dingmans Creek Trail was a relaxing walk through the woods with the creek running alongside us during most of our hike.
After taking an easy hike for about 20 minutes alongside the Dingmans Creek we got to the top of Dingmans Falls where we go our first view of the majestic waterfall cascading down.
We then headed down the many many steps and around to the bottom of the magnificent waterfall. After snapping lots of pictures we sat on the bench across from the waterfall and just enjoyed the view. We were mesmerized by the second highest waterfall in Pennsylvania.
After enjoying the site of the rushing water we headed back up the many steps and retraced our path in the woods back to our car.
I couldn’t believe that there is no entrance fee for visiting Dingmans Falls when many less impressive waterfalls charge an admission fee.
Dingmans Falls Visitors Center:
224 Dingmans Falls Road
Delaware Township, PA 18328
Dingmans Creek Trail:
Parking is at the end of Doodle Hollow Road in Dingmans Ferry, PA
Phone Number-Visitor’s Center:
Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Lakewood: 2 hours
Monsey: 1 hour, 30 minutes
State Line Lookout: Closter, NJ
The state line Lookout is a beautiful hiking spot off the Palisades Parkway. It is set between the highway and the Hudson River.
When we arrived at the Information Center, we walked down a paved street alongside the water and the building, until we saw markings on the right. They lead between the trees to the teal blue hiking trail which takes you down to a splendid waterfall at the foot of the Hudson River.
The path snakes through wooded areas with bubbling streams running alongside. At intervals there are beautiful open areas with views of the Hudson River. The reward is at the bottom of the hike when you reach a large waterfall on one side and the base of the Hudson River on the other. The hike is not very simple and took us an hour and a half each way but it was well worth it.
Exit is off the Palisades Pkwy: Alpine Dr, Closter, NJ 07624. The exit sign says Scenic View. Follow the road until you reach an Information Center.
Brooklyn Bridge: 35 minutes
Lakewood: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Monsey: 30 minutes
The Rockefeller State Park Preserve: Pleasantville, NY
I was pleasantly surprised to see how well taken care of and maintained The Rockefeller State Park Preserve is. After entering the 1,400 acre preserve we passed a few picnic tables in a wooded serene area. We continued on to the parking lot and then once we parked, paid the parking fee, we then headed to Swan Lake. We passed some volunteers tending to the flowers and trees near the visitor’s center.
Swan Lake is a beautiful 22 acre lake with a wide path surrounding it. It is wheelchair/stroller accessible. When we walked around the lake we enjoyed the many turtles that were sunning in the lake. We also spotted frogs, a beaver and the ubiquitous Canadian geese. The lake doesn’t take especially long to circle but there are benches placed strategically around the lake to help visitors enjoy the beauty of nature. We only circled the lake during our visit but I would want to return to check out the popular 13 Bridges Loop Trail, a 1.9 miles leading to 13 bridges on the wandering Gory Brook.
125 Phelps Way
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Parking: $6.00 per vehicle
April – October, daily
November – March, weekends & holidays
Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 50 minutes
Lakewood: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Monsey: 30 minutes