Searching for Waterfalls in New Jersey

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One of things that I have enjoyed the most about blogging since I started was sharing what I discovered in my everyday life with my kids. Somehow, I lost a little bit of this – the joy of the everyday discoveries. Granted, it has been because we’ve traveled to places further away, but there is something so nice still for me in the adventures closer to home because these are the ones we can do over and over without too much demand on our time or budget.

Today was such a day, with the kids home from school I needed to get them outside. Lucky for us we live less than 5 minutes from the beautiful South Mountain Reservation and often go there for walks. But till now, we’ve discovered but a small tidbit of this over 2,000 acre wooded area. Today, I decided we would find Hemlock Falls, the often talked about waterfall of the reservation.

Everyone knows about it, but few know how to get to it – well, few who have lived here for such a short time as we have. So I looked up the map, got the boys ready, and out we went.

The entrance was way easier to find than I expected, and I had driven past it several times, but because it is next to an underpass along South Orange Avenue, and not really marked with any signs, it’s easy to miss.

It’s a perfect time to go hiking in the reservation. The leaves are falling and changing colors, the weather is not too hot, nor too cold, and on a weekday, there weren’t too many hikers around.

The boys delighted in walking into the heavily wooded area, their imaginations immediately running wild. We stopped to read the sign with it indicating that the falls were only a few steps away.

It was easy to follow because alongside the trail is a rocky creek, low from the lack of rain in the area. At one point the boys decided to cross it. The 5-year-old hesitated, unsure of how to do it. “You can do it!” I reassured him. He thought for awhile, than started walking stating, “We can walk on the rocks, just like in Costa Rica.” It made me proud to see how the last time we searched for waterfalls – while in the rainforest in Costa Rica – has stayed with them and works as a moment of reference when needing confidence to move forward in other challenges. Such is the beauty of travel.

We continued to walk, coming upon a family of squirrels hiding in their nest, poking their heads out to the delight of my children who had never seen such a thing. Another first was seeing several Daddy Long-Legs walking around a log. “I can’t wait to tell daddy I saw a Daddy Long-Leg! Get it? Get it?” said the 7-year-old cracking himself up.

We came upon the falls – a very short and easy hike from the main parking area, but yet seemingly a world away, and though it wasn’t raging like most waterfalls we’ve seen thus far, the rock formations were pretty cool to look at and the kids loved throwing rocks and jumping puddles.

You can continue your hike up some rocky stairs to get a better view of the surrounding area, benches readily available for those wanting to sit and take it all in…or steal a kiss or two.

We continued our a hike picking up leaves, throwing more rocks, looking at bugs, listening and trying to find birds, at one point sitting on the edge of a small boulder to watch a family of deer nearby.

It reminded me of how much I love these moments with my kids, these discoveries so close to home – all the reasons why I started this blog in the first place.

Searching, and finding, waterfalls in Costa Rica with my children was amazing. But, I have to say, going on a hunt for waterfalls here in New Jersey with them was pretty awesome too, and the smile on their faces when we found it was priceless. And to me, those are adventures of the best kind.

NJ Family has a nice list of waterfalls in NJ, and I have made it my mission to check each of them out and report back to you about our experiences here.

In the meantime, make sure to head out and discover what your hood has to offer and never miss an opportunity to create a memory of your own.


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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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