Winter Hiking at Former Greystone Psychiatric Park / Central Park of Morris

I felt ambitious in today’s 8°F temperatures and took a short drive in search of winter birds and outdoors adventure.  After some internal debate, I settled on the Central Park of Morris County vicinity as I thought the diversity of trees and grounds might yield cold weather wildlife sightings.

Central Park of Morris

Upland meadow in Winter.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

The last time I visited this area, the final remnants of the Kirkbride building of the former Greystone Psychiatric Park was still being cleared away.  No public access had been possible due to safety precautions.  Ironically I had been subdued by local police for illegal “urban decay exploration” a couple of years back, which I find humorous because all of my time is spent photographing and studying solely nature.  This incident is story for another time.

Greystone Psychiatric Park nature walk photo

Meadow and Wetlands in Winter.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

As you can see from my mobile photographs, the former “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signage has been removed from the Kirkbride grounds as well as most adjacent lands.  I did observe newly posted signs by the Morris County Park Commission alerting hunters that hunting is by explicit permit only.

Pileated Woodpecker damage hole picture

Pileated Woodpecker cavities.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

I only encountered a few species of wildlife on my walk which is fine with me.  Pursuing wildlife is mostly just a vehicle I drive to get me outdoors.  Today’s sightings included: Red-tailed Hawk, Dark-eyed Junco, Song Sparrow, Gray Squirrel, White-tailed Deer (big bucks).  I also saw a good deal of Red Fox and Cotton-tailed Rabbit tracks dotting the frozen landscapes.

New Jersey hiking nature picture

Uphill meadow in Winter.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

The former Greystone grounds could use some help combatting invasive plants such as Multiflora Rose and Barberry.  However, the wildlife habitat still looked very good to me with mature trees including Pines, Cedar, Spruce, Oaks, and other trees which I have to study up on.  Conifers in particular are of high value in our area as they make for great shelter for various hawks and owls.  Fox and deer also find good shelter and bedding at the bases of some Conifers.

In my home area, central Morris County, we do not have much acreage of intact forest due to housing developments and extensive highways.  Hence, we should conserve each remaining stand of trees and acreage of meadow to provide homes for our native New Jersey wildlife.

X-country skiing NJ

Cross-country Ski Trail in Winter. Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

After doing a bit of internet research, I found this 2017 press release by the Morris County Government. 

“The (Morris County) Freeholders, in June 2016, subsequently approved a long-term management and use agreement with the state to manage the additional 126 Greystone acres for passive recreational, conservation, historic preservation or farmland use by the Park Commission…..”

“Under terms of the management and use agreement, the state would deliver the property to the county in suitable condition for passive public outdoor recreation, such as walking, hiking, picnicking, nature watching, or for conservation purposes. The county could add active recreation uses in the future.”

Active recreation most often means organized sports or playgrounds.  Ballfields and playgrounds mean the removal of wildlife habitat and potentially degrading nearby natural lands by way of herbicides, pesticides, and erosion.  For those of us who find great value, beauty, and of course the diverse health benefits of natural area it is important that we express our opinions to our voted representatives.

Local governments have tough shoes to fill as they must balance the needs of large populations.  However, in the most respectful way possible, nature lovers should “remain voices for the voiceless” and speak up for our trees, waterways, wildlife, and health concerns.  It can never hurt to send your local elected officials an email on topics of concern.  I plan on forwarding this article to both the park commission and freeholders to congratulate them on the public opening of this land and to speak of the high value of wildlife habitat conservation.  Don’t be shy, speak up.

New Jersey wetlands picture

Watnong Brook in Winter. Former Greystone Psychiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

If you would like to stretch your legs and walk these peaceful trails you use Google Maps to navigate to the nearest parking area.

 

For any comments or questions on the photographs or concepts in my article please contact dave@daveblinder.com

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Jonathan’s Woods Red Trail to Green Trail

Located in Denville and Rockaway New Jersey, Jonathan’s Woods is owned in parts by Morris County Park Commission, as well as both townships.

Trails are maintained by Protect Our Wetlands, Water and Woods (POWWW).

New Jersey Hiking

Hiking trail at Jonathan’s Woods in Morris County NJ

Kiosk for Red Trail is located on Old Beach Glen Road in Denville.

Denville Trails

Kiosk at Jonathan’s Woods on Old Beach Glen Road

A Google Maps search for Jonathan’s Woods will get you to the main parking area. Take the Red Trail from the parking lot on Old Beach Glen Road.

New Jersey Nature

Red Trail at Jonathan’s Woods in Denville Twp

Turn Right at the Green Blaze on the old gravel road to head towards the wetlands.

NJ outdoors

Green Trail at Jonathan’s Woods county park

The Beaver Brook marsh is a great place to sit and look for wildlife or just unwind.

NJ nature photography

Beaver Brook marsh with Wildcat Ridge beyond

Wildlife watching NJ

Beaver dam at Jonathan’s Woods

Following the Green Trail will take you across seasonal stream crossings before you return to the parking lot.  You will also pass near the “Cathedral Pine” area which was largely toppled by Hurricane Sandy but has since been re-planted.

NJ hike

Seasonal wetlands on Green Trail

Pine Trees Grove NJ

Former Cathedral Pine Area devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The area has since been re-planted and is being monitored by Morris County Park Commission and POWWW.

For any info on the trails at Jonathan’s Woods contact info@powww.org

Patriots’ Path at Troy Meadows

A virtual tour via cell phone photographs of the Patriots’ Path within Troy Meadows Natural Area.

Morris County NJ hiking

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

The gravel parking lot is located on South Beverwyck Road in Parsippany New Jersey.

Parsippany NJ Nature

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

A wooden kiosk in the parking area lets visitors know they have arrived at Troy Meadows Natural Area.

New Jersey State Natural Area

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

The blue blaze travels beyond a wooden gate from the parking area.

New Jersey outdoor photography

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

A small amount of fine gravel lines this part of Patriots’ Path.

NJ Nature Preserve

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

After turning right, the trail is now following a gas pipeline.

Utility easement

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

A few flowers dot the edge of the gas pipeline.

New Jersey birding

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

Patriots’ Path turns left and diverts from the gas pipeline.

NJ Nature Photography

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

The trail now runs along tall high tension electrical lines.  Red-tailed Hawks often sit atop these towers.

Power lines hiking NJ

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

Looking at the electrical towers. By following these, one gets nearer to the center of the marsh at Troy Meadows. I head that way in winter to view Northern Harriers.

BLU Life One X2 HDR Photography

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

Patriots’ Path now heads into a wooded area and will lead out by Troy Road near the border of Hanover Township not far from East Hanover.

New Jersey Woods

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

I turned around and called it a day because the sun was setting. There is much more of Troy Meadows to explore.

All photos taken on my Blu Life One X2 cell phone with the camera set to HDR mode.  Click above to purchase from my Amazon affiliate link. For ~$200 this 1.4ghz processor and 16 megapixel camera were a good value to me. I have been relying on this unlocked cellular phone for months.

Any questions on Troy Meadows, this trail, or the photographs? Just ask.