Public Info

Explore Union County’s first of its kind Sensory Friendly Trail during Rockin The Reservation on September 30th

All visitors attending the Rockin the Reservation event on Saturday, September 30 are welcome to walk the new Union County Sensory Friendly Trail located in front of the Trailside Nature & Science Center in Mountainside. Rockin the reservation, formerly known as Harvest Festival will run from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., featuring musical performances by Copperline Shine and October Rose.

“The Union County Watchung Reservation Sensory Friendly Trail is specially designed for park visitors of all ages and abilities and provides a way to safely experience the outdoors with opportunities to interact with nature,” says Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados.

The Sensory Friendly Trail, which officially opened in August, is a 0.3 mile ADA accessible loop with a central gazebo.  The trail winds gently through the woods with guide ropes and features multiple interpretive signs to learn about the local flora and fauna with 3D reliefs and Braille for the visually impaired. There are two talking audio kiosks highlighting the natural and human history of the Watchung Reservation, a 2,142 acre preserve and the largest park in Union County.  

The central gazebo offers a sensory play area to attract children and encourage exploration and discovery.  Sensory stimulation is provided through sensory gardens, musical components and nature-themed play structures designed to meet the physical, social and cognitive needs of different age groups. All of these elements on the trail provide tactile experiences and create opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.    Raised garden beds add color and beauty to this multi-dimensional experience, providing the visitor the opportunity to use their sense of sight, smell and touch. 

To further engage children, creative projects will be offered under the new gazebo on September 30 sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited in Scotch Plains.  Decorate a bird feeder and fill it with seed to take home and hang for your backyard birds.  Make a butterfly craft, meet a turtle and visit the Trailside Touch Table.  There is no fee for these activities.

In addition to music, Rockin the Reservation will feature art demonstrations, interactive art and music, a petting zoo, pony rides, scarecrow building, a pumpkin patch, multi-cultural dancing, music demonstrations, food trucks and instruments to play.   

Admission to Rockin the Reservation is $5, with children ages 7 and younger admitted free of charge. For more information, call 908-789-3670 or visit

Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside and is a facility of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation.