MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Families will have many opportunities to enjoy the autumn beauty and serenity of the Watchung Reservation by participating in any of the numerous family programs and activities offered at Trailside Nature & Science Center in Mountainside. Sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks and Community Renewal, the exciting fall line-up of programs is designed for families with children of all ages.
The Saturday Outdoor Adventures programs give families a chance to take part in theme hikes and nature related talks. These programs begin at 10 a.m., last approximately 45 minutes and meet at the Trailside Visitor Center unless otherwise noted. There is no admission fee but donations are appreciated.
“Saturday Outdoor Adventures are a great opportunity for families to enjoy the beautiful Watchung Reservation and experience the splendor of autumn, while learning interesting facts about our local wildlife and environment,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon.
On Oct. 22, families can participate in a Deserted Village Walking Tour. Families can discover the history of this local treasure in the Watchung Reservation and learn who originally inhabited the village and how it became deserted. Participants should meet at the Deserted Village parking lot on Cataract Hollow Road, off Glenside Ave. in Berkeley Heights.
A Fall Field Walk on Oct. 29 will allow families to explore the rainbow of colors on a hike through the Watchung Reservation. While searching the forest for shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, rust and purple, you will learn to identify trees by leaf shapes and colors.
Trailside Nature & Science Center celebrates Native American History Month on Nov. 12 with “Lenape Lifestyles.” Families will discover who the Lenape Native Americans were and how they lived. Participants will visit Trailside’s Lenape exhibit to learn about their lifestyles and take a walk to look for plants and trees the Lenape used to help cure colds, construct wigwams and build canoes.
Trailside offers a Lake Surprise Hike on Nov. 19, when families can explore the shores of Lake Surprise, the Watchung Reservation’s largest body of water. Hikers will be on the lookout for late migrating birds, animal tracks and interesting insects.
On Nov. 26, families will be treated to an “Enchanted Forest Hike.” While exploring the northwest area of the Watchung Reservation, families will discover the history of this enchanting forest and learn which animals inhabit the Pine Tree Grove and what is happening to these old trees. Participants should meet at the Sky Top Picnic area.
Saturday Outdoor Adventures continue on Dec. 3 with “Nature’s Choice.” Families will want to dress warmly to brave the brisk weather and take a hike to discover the winter adaptations of the plants and animals in the Watchung Reservation.
The autumn series ends on Dec. 10 with “Tree I.D.” Families will work together to use buds, bark and branches to identify tulip, beech, dogwood and walnut trees and learn which tree smells fruity, looks like an elephant’s foot or has bark like an alligator’s skin.
For additional information about the Saturday Outdoor Adventures or other upcoming programs and special events at Trailside, call 908-789-3670 or visit www.ucnj.org/trailside. Trailside Nature & Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road (at Coles Ave.) in Mountainside and is a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
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