Sourland Mountain Preserve, New Jersey

For those of you who think New Jersey is all toll booths and rail yards, here are some photos I took today on the Sourland Mountain Preserve near my apartment. This is just one tiny section of the park. We didn’t make it to the ancient glacial deposit at the top of the mountain this time (lunch was calling), but next time I’m up there, I’ll grab some snap shots and post them.

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In a zombie apocalypse, we’ll never want for something to eat in NJ. Geese are everywhere. Like, watch-your-step everywhere, if you know what I mean.

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At the park’s lowest elevation:

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At Sourland, you can explore in the shade:

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Or in the sun:




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In addition to this dude below, we also saw a huge beetle and a big bee writhing on the ground, locked in mortal combat, but they were too well camouflaged for a decent photo. Last week we shared part of a trail with a snake.
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It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this trail is steep. Trust me, it’s a lot easier coming down.

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The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is evident throughout the park, especially at the top (to which we hiked last week). It had been a few years since I was up there, and half the trails were rerouted because of all the crisscrossing tree trunks.

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The Sourland Ghost?


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But in case you forget you are in New Jersey…

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There’s the Manhattan skyline. The tall dude in the middle of the circle is the new Freedom Tower at Ground Zero.


42 responses to “Sourland Mountain Preserve, New Jersey

  • judy

    Good job showing that NJ isn’t just gas tanks! 🙂

  • Arkenaten

    These are smashing shots, Mr. B. A little insight to the world outside your front door.

    • ericjbaker

      Thanks. I thought of you when snapping that dragonfly. I was happy with that shot because I was standing about 8 feet away with the zoom all the way out and no tripod. I expected it to be a lot blurrier.

      • Arkenaten

        The Ark in New Jersey! Even in thought that is cool.
        maybe it;ll help sell a few books?
        I wouldn’t mind visiting the States some day.
        Whenever I think New Jersey I think Tony Soprano! Maybe I have my Jograpfy mixed up?

  • Janna G. Noelle

    That looks like a very nice place for a Sunday hike. And them there’s Canada Geese, eh!

    • ericjbaker

      Please! Take them back! Those critters can clog the highway at times. At the park near my mom’s house, I’ll see upwards of 1000 of them at one time. They hiss at you, and then render the field unusable thanks to their indiscreet bathroom habits. Charming beasts!

  • rawtheblog

    Great photos. Looks like such a peaceful place.

  • Earnest Harris

    That looks like a great place to relax and explore. Definitely another side of New Jersey.

    • ericjbaker

      I’ve gotten lost back there on the flatter trails a few times. The ones going up aren’t so tricky. You can pretty much tell from the pitch of the ground which direction you’re headed!

  • Jill Weatherholt

    There are many beautiful areas in New Jersey, this park is one of those, Eric. Thanks for sharing your day at the park…lovely photos. I love the Freedom Tower in the skyline. I was at Ground Zero five years after 911…I’ll never forget it.

    • ericjbaker

      Thanks. Last week I didn’t think to bring my camera and was kicking myself. Why not let nature write my blog post for the weekend?

      I’ve never been to Ground Zero, believe it or not, except driving through in a car on the way somewhere else.

  • ksfinblog

    Bridge in the woods where someone could teach me dance steps….

  • skywalkerstoryteller

    Looks like fun. Actually, I think every state has places of beauty away from cities. Thanks for sharing your hike.

    • ericjbaker

      We’ll never compete with places like Alaska and Arizona for natural beauty. No pretenses there. But we surely have our quiet places. And some kick-butt beaches for sure.

  • tracycembor

    Makes me sad that all I have seen of NJ is Newark, Maher Terminal, and Jersey City. Who knew there was green stuff there too? 😉

    • ericjbaker

      Indeed. Most out-of-state folks only see the NJ Turnpike and Newark Airport. Such is life. I will do my part to show the unseedy underbelly (our seediness is out in the open here).

  • nrhatch

    Love the shots showing some of what Jersey has going for it.

    What happened to that boulder in shot #6? Did you sever it in two with a zombie?Did Godzilla give it a Karate Kick?

    I’ve never been to Sourland Mountain Preserve, but we used to go to South Mountain Reservation near the Oranges.

    Also have fond memories of Turtleback Zoo and Mayapple Hill. And Deer Lake. And, of course, the Jersey Shore.

    • ericjbaker

      That was an odd rock formation, wasn’t it? I imagine that when the glacier retreated way back in the day, it split the rock and pushed it apart.

      I’m fascinated to watch the little critters who live in an around those rocks their whole lives with no awareness of the rest of the planet, or of time, or how those rocks got there, how long they’ve been there, etc. Humans can be disappointing, but I’m glad I’m one.

  • livelytwist

    Looks like it was a lovely day out. You’ll never want for food and I guess manure 😉 lol@”watch-your-step everywhere”

    The Sourland Ghost? *shivers with fright, posts comments & flees* 🙂

    • ericjbaker

      I mulled over a goose-dropping related reply, but I couldn’t think of anything appropriate in front of a lady. 😉

      That ghost looks quite less like a ghost from any other angle.

  • shelleyhazen83

    Looks like my neighborhood, ‘cept we have no skylines.

    • ericjbaker

      I had to zoom all the way out for that shot, and then I doctored it to highlight those buildings. The background in the untouched image looked white. As the crow flies (or turkey vulture, if we want to stick with the NJ theme), the freedom tower is about 45 miles away. Pretty amazing that one can see it with the naked eye when standing on that ridge.

  • Uzoma

    I see you took some time to be with Mama Nature 😉 The greenness is appealing. Maybe we can shoot a movie there 🙂

    • ericjbaker

      Ha ha! I’m always scouting movie locations when hiking. I’m dead serious! It’s part of my weird fantasy life no one knows about. Always horror movies, because when else do you need trees and fields?

  • seanbidd

    A little natural elevation on a small journey never goes astray, some of the finer wines to natures gifts. Reminds me I need to go take the long route up a local mountain range here, one squeezed between a river and the coast. Best of days for your next adventure, Eric.

    • ericjbaker

      Those little trips into the woods have quite a restorative quality, don’t they? being outside in nature is only existing in our normal state. We don’t get enough of it in densely populated places like NJ.

      Thanks for the visit and the comment!

  • 1WriteWay

    And I thought New Jersey being called The Garden State was just a joke. Thanks for setting me right (and great photos)!

    • ericjbaker

      As George Carlin used to say in his act, “The Garden State? If you’re growing smokestacks.”

      I kid, but NJ has a lot of woodland. it’s certainly not Montana, but I like being 3 miles away from everything.

  • Sourland Mountain Preserve, NJ- PART II | ericjohnbaker

    […] The Sopranos,  I bring you fresh images from the Sourland Mountain Preserve near my apartment. Last time I told you about the glacial deposit at the top, and this time I have […]

  • kartik

    Awesome Manhattan pic! Do you know where in the preserve you got that shot?!

    • ericjbaker

      Thanks. I’m not sure how to describe it other than it’s the steepest trail and the only one without tree cover (I believe there’s a gas pipeline under the trail). This pic was taken from the highest elevation that occurs before any kind of dip. It’s not actually the highest elevation, but after this point, you have to go down again before you get to the even higher point. By then you won’t be able to see the vista anymore.

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