Connecting the Best of Essex County Outdoors via the Lenape Trail

October 24, 2017
Peter Dolan
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Connecting the Best of Essex County Outdoors via the Lenape Trail
Volunteers building the South Mountain Connector Trail on the Lenape Trail. Photo by Dennis Percher.


The Lenape Trail passes through 19 different parks in Essex and serves as a “highlight reel” of what the area has to offer in terms of hiking and outdoor recreation, from the paved jogging paths of Brookdale Park to the rugged hiking of Eagle Rock Reservation.

The Trail Conference’s work on the Lenape Trail has been reinvigorated in 2017, thanks to support from the Partners for Health Foundation in Essex County.

Through the Partners for Health grant, the Trail Conference has been able to deploy two seasonal field managers to engage Essex County Parks staff and local volunteer conservancies to continue improving this community resource. Some highlights include plans to incorporate the spectacular meadows of Hilltop Reservation, route the trail straight through Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, and bring hikers to a 9/11 memorial overlooking New York City’s skyline for a moment of reflection. Additionally, the grant will allow us to install new navigational signage of the entire trail, thanks to the field managers’ GPS inventory and assessment and the work of our Trail Conference cartographer. This map will be available on and on flyers distributed in places like libraries and historical centers throughout Essex County. To top it all off, we ran three free trail maintenance workshops along the trail this fall.

On Sunday, Oct. 1, the community celebrated the ribbon cutting for the new South Mountain Connector Trail. Members of the South Mountain Conservancy, the Trail Conference, and West Orange government formally opened this half-mile section, which was finished in July after 15 months of work.

The Lenape Trail is in need of volunteers to care for this unique path and ensure the good work continues long after our field managers wrap up their season. If you’re interested in helping to improve the Lenape Trail, please contact New Jersey Program Coordinator Peter Dolan at [email protected].