Hemlock Falls: West Orange, NJ

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hemlock Falls is on a 5.8 mile loop in South Mountain Reservation, but there’s a 1.2 mile toddler-friendly shortcut. It was easy enough for my 2.5 year old and 4.5 year old to do (with snack bribes and plenty of stops to throw rocks in the brook along the way). Big plus: It’s in a great location. The popular Fairy Trail is 6 minutes away, beloved Turtleback Zoo is 6 minutes away, and the epic pirate themed Regatta Playground is just 3 minutes away.

From the parking lot, you’ll see two entrances:

  1. Do you see Yellow/Orange/Green blazes? Follow yellow to the falls.
  2. Do you see Yellow blazes and a brook? You’re headed to the picnic area.

We accidentally went the picnic route at first, had a great time throwing rocks, meandered through a large field, stopped for a snack, and even spotted an eagle (!!), but wound up at a busy intersection without any falls in sight. After retracing our steps, we found the other entrance which was much easier and led directly to the falls.

The kids loved hiding in the teepee.

I loved being surrounded by trees and seeing a burst of green.

And we discovered that fallen trees make awesome balance beams.

Everyone was masked and wide trails allowed us to keep a safe social distance.

We can’t wait to visit again soon!

The Park Mama Tips:

  • This trail is fairly rocky. Baby wearing will be easier than bringing a stroller.
  • The falls are fullest after rainfall. Wear waterproof boots that you don’t mind getting muddy.
  • It gets crowded here. Plan to visit on a weekday or early on a weekend.
  • This post gives excellent step by step directions. Thanks, NJ Hiking!
  • If the brook is the first thing you see on the trail, you’re headed the wrong way! Start where the trail markers show orange, green, and yellow. Then follow yellow.
  • Porta potties are available in the parking lot.

For more info:

South Mountain Reservation

Regatta Playground

Turtleback Zoo

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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