Watchung Reservation Sensory Friendly Trail: Mountainside, NJ

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We visited Watchung Reservation’s Sensory Friendly Trail today with our 2 year old and 4 year old after hearing such wonderful things about it from other local families. Wow, what a cool place! It’s wheelchair accessible, stroller friendly, offers educational signage with audio and Braille, and is a short little 0.3 mile loop just perfect for littles and those with special needs. We learned how to identify poison ivy, why birds sing, and fun facts about chipmunks, eastern box turtles, and other woodland creatures. My little animal lovers ate it up.

With 2 boys, every nature walk inevitably turns into a bug safari, and today was no exception. They left no log unturned, and we happily found the bug treasure trove. Earthworms, ants, centipedes, slugs, and more came out to say hello and my fearless 4 year old graduated from lifting them with sticks and leaves to using gentle bare hands. He was mesmorized by the earthworm’s movements as it tickled his fingers.

If you’re up for ditching the stroller and adventuring a bit more, there’s lots to see at Watchung Reservation. With trails from 0.2 miles to 10 miles in length and varying difficulty, you can find many little kid friendly loops, an historic Revolutionary War trail, a Scout camping area, ball fields, and picnic areas galore. We hiked the short but rocky 0.5 mile red trail and the steeper 0.6 mile orange trail before settling in for a game of tag and a picnic on the grass. We’ll be back for sure, and I’m eyeing the history trail next.

The Park Mama Tips:

  • Parking was a bit confusing for us at first because we just put “Watchung Reservation Historic Trail” in our Google Maps which landed us in a Sheriff’s Office parking lot. You want to go to “Trailside Nature and Science Center” which positions you nicely at the entrance to the Sensory Friendly Trail, several looped hiking trails, as well as the bathrooms which are open and cleanish.
  • Watch out for dog poop in the grass! It’s everywhere. Nothing like cleaning poop out of your 2 year old’s shoes. Yuck.
  • The trails get pretty muddy. If it rained recently, just wear shoes that you don’t mind getting messy.

For more info:

Trail Map

About the Sensory Friendly Trail

Published by TheParkMama

Hi, I'm Janet, a city dwelling nature lover and mama bear of toddler and preschool aged explorers. We love discovering uncrowded green spaces within a short drive of Hoboken, NJ that are little kid-friendly - from botanical gardens and nature preserves to arboretums and parks - there's something magical about adventuring together.

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