Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lost Wonders of Pequannock: Arundel Wilderness Spot

Part three in a multi-part series, Lost Wonders of Pequannock will uncover secret spots, old and new, which make Pequannock a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. 


Hidden between a handful of residential properties and a townhouse development in the upper township is something you'd never expect to see in Pequannock: one of the most beautiful ecological habitats on the valley floor, rivaling in beauty the nearby Weis Ecology Center or many official township parks.


That's right, you won't find the Arundel Wilderness Spot on any list of parks, and the reason for this is surprising:  this beautiful forest of meandering streams, towering beech trees, and sprawling ferns is actually the result of swamps maintained in their existing state to provide ample drainage for the nearby townhouses.


The path follows a meandering brook for a little under a mile, starting at the end of Arundel Rd in Pequannock Township and ending at Mead Pl.  It passes close by a playground where it crosses Bedford Drive.  The forest it traverses is actually part of a larger green-belt extending from Mountainside Park all the way down to Chilton Hospital.


Along the way you'll see a variety of animal tracks including the ubiquitous deer, fox, ground hog, and other residents of the forest.  The usual run of squirrels and chipmunks are there as well and it's even possible to observe crayfish on occasion in the warmer months.  The stream bed itself thrives with several types of algae and it's banks are dense with moss, even in the colder parts of the year.  It's worth noting that while the existing path is well defined and indeed likely far predates any current developments (with a few punctuations of old farmer's fence along the way), one can also veer left at the entrance and follow along the stream as it proceeds towards Rt. 287, Mountainside Park, and its head at Sawmill Pond.  Rt. 287 will of course preclude actually following the stream the entire way.


As always, please obey all posted signs and parking regulations.  Please be sensitive to the residents who live nearby.


When you are done exploring the forest and have worked up an appetite, you can stop in at Gilly's (a historic site in and of itself) on the Newark Pompton Turnpike for a bite to eat or the Pompton Queen Diner on Rt 23.  Of course Pequannock's restuarant quarter is just a little further down past Gilly's and features local cafe's and pizzerias.


One more shot of the forest:






Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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