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History Hike

INTO THE WOODS…One of the few places in Union County untouched since Colonial times is Ash Brook Reservation, which played an important role in the 1777 Battle of the Short Hills. The American forces sought to lure the British and Hessian troops through the Ash Swamp to buy more time for Gen. Washington to get his soldiers back up to safety in the Watchung Mountains.

Explore the Battle of the Short Hills Historic Trail to combine exercise with fascinating local history.

Choose a portion of the Trail, or hike the entire 13.5-mile route, which traces the steps of American Revolutionary War soldiers who engaged the British in June 1777 and fought a running battle across what is now Edison and Scotch Plains, before retreating to the safety of the Watchung Mountains—through a pass near Seeley’s Pond that would become known as “Bloody Gap.”

The British hoped that if they feigned a departure from New Jersey, they would lure the Continental Forces down from the Watchung Mountains, defeat them, and finally end the Revolutionary War. Although Washington’s troops of fewer than 6,000 were vastly outnumbered by a combined British and Hessian force numbering about 12,000, the British plan did not succeed.

The Battle of the Short Hills Historic Trail passes several historic sites in Metuchen and Edison, and then passes Frazee House in Scotch Plains. It includes a wooded section of Ash Brook Reservation—perhaps the only location on the entire battle route that remains undeveloped since that time. Here there is a nature trail from which you can view the swamp conditions the troops faced.

Other stops along the route include the historic Fanwood Train Station, Osborn Cannonball House in Scotch Plains, and the Deserted Village in Watchung Reservation. The route takes you through Watchung Reservation, along cross-county and East Coast Greenways to the Cranford train station.

Click Here to View an Interactive Map

Learn about sites along the way on your hike

Four Centuries in a Weekend:

Visit this page in early fall for information about guided activities on this historic trail during Four Centuries in a Weekend, held in October.