This weekend we finally went to explore the Orange Reservoir in South Mountain Reservation. We live a short drive away and had heard good things about this place, but hadn’t managed to get here yet. We also weren’t sure if dogs were allowed on the Reservoir path. We brought Gander and had a backup plan to walk some of the nearby trails.
South Mountain Reservation is part of the Essex County Parks system in Northern New Jersey. It is home to the Turtleback Zoo, a dog park, a playground, many miles of walking trails, picnic areas, a restaurant called McLoone’s Boathouse, and the Orange Reservoir.
The Reservoir is surrounded by a 1.75 mile paved walking path. If you prefer being on the water, you can rent a two or four passenger swan boat, in your choice of white or black. They look like so much fun, but James is too little to go in a boat. We’ll have to come back to do the paddle boats when James is older.
We set out along the reservoir path. I was really glad that dogs were allowed because Gander had a great time. There were lots of other dogs and all kinds of exciting sights and smells. There were even designated spots for fishing, but not many people utilizing them in the middle of the day.
James fell asleep as Dan, Gander, and I strolled along in the sunshine. There were benches and brightly colored Adirondack chairs spaced along the path for resting and taking in the sights. The fall foliage is starting to appear, creating a picturesque view across the water.
I can see myself bringing my mother here the next time she comes to visit. We can get coffee, walk, and chat. The French have a word, flaner (flawn-ay), which means to walk around without any real purpose, just to meander and enjoy yourself. When I first heard this expression, I immediately identified with it. I love to walk just for the sake of walking. I get that from my mom. She would love this place and I can’t wait to bring her here.
Several of the other trails in the Reservation connect to the Reservoir path. I’m sure that I’ll come back here to go running. The path looks like it would be well lit, which is important this time of year when the days start to get shorter. And the smooth, level surface would be great for the jogging stroller. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the sidewalks near our house.
The zoo borders the Reservoir on one side. The train ride at the zoo zipped back and forth alongside a short section of the walking path. Passengers waved and the conductor blew his whistle. Gander didn’t quite know what to make of it.
He was much more excited about the many, many birds floating nearby. Dan had to keep a tight grip on the leash to keep Gander from jumping into the water after them. He’s a good dog, but some things are just too tempting.
As we finished our loop of the Reservoir, Dan and I agreed that we would be back soon. The path is open to the public seven days per week. If you’re in the Essex County, I highly recommend that you check it out.