Halsey Frederick Park
The Tourne/Birchwood Lake Area
On a clear day, hikers who climb to the top of the Tourne County Park will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the New York City skyline. Appropriately, the name Tourne is derived from the Dutch word meaning lookout or mountain. A total of 545 acres comprises this ruggedly beautiful park, located in the Township of Boonton and Denville, and the Borough of Mountain Lakes. The park was opened for public enjoyment in 1960.
The Tourne is the only remaining undeveloped fragment of the Great Boonton Tract, purchased by David Ogden, Colonial Attorney-General of New Jersey in 1759. McCaffrey Lane, which serves as the main entrance to the park, was created in 1767 by Samuel Ogden to haul iron ore from Hibernias mines to his iron works in Old Boonton. Within this historic region, cannon balls were manufactured for use by the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
Clarence Addington DeCamp (1859-1948) inherited and acquired during his lifetime much of the land now preserved as Tourne County Park. Using hand tools and levers, Mr. DeCamp built two roads to the top of the Tourne and encouraged the citizenry to enjoy the forests and fields with him, thereby becoming one of the first conservationists in Morris County.
Visitors can see interesting features such as a wildflower trail and bird sanctuary. The park offers opportunities for hiking and cross-country skiing as well as pleasant family picnic sites. There is also a ball field area which can be reserved for group outings by calling Park Police headquarters at 326-7631.
Interesting things to see in the Tourne/Birchwood area include:
Briarcliff EIC Projects on the Tourne
In the 6th grade Environmental Integrated Curriculum project on the Tourne, each student picked a topic and did separate sub-projects on that topic in Social Studies, Science, Math, and English. These are high grade research projects on interesting aspects of the Tourne.
- Ancient Stone Wall (Nina Simon)
- What do you know about the Trails in the Tourne (Michelle Deitrick)
- Maintaining The Trails At The Tourne (M.W.)
- How did Mountain Lakes become Tree City, USA? (Julia Chambers)
History of the Tourne
For a fascinating history of the Tourne including the story of its famous murder, click here.
Trails in Mountain Lakes:
- Halsey A. Frederick Park
- Maple Way Woodlands
- Richard M. Wilcox & Tourne Parks
- Emilie K. Hammond Wildflower Trail in Tourne Park
Other great hiking trails close to Mountain Lakes include:
- Boonton Falls
- Pyramid Mountain
- Farny Highlands Trails
- Mahlon Dickerson Reservation
- Patriots Path
- The Great Swamp
- Jockey Hollow
For more information, try the Morris County Parks Commission web site. This site lists the county parks in Morris County and a calendar of scheduled events but unfortunately gives detailed descriptions of only a few “featured” parks.
Northern New Jersey
Slightly further way, great hiking can be found at:
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area,
- High Point State Park,
- Stokes State Forest.
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail, the legendary hiking path that runs nearly 2100 miles from Springer Mountain Georgia to the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine, has a substantial section in New Jersey. It crosses into New Jersey from Pennsylvania at the Delaware Water Gap and continues northward along the ridge of the Kittatinny Mountains through Stokes State Forest and High Point State Park. It then turns right and continues eastward until it crosses into New York state near Wawaywanda State Park. The New Jersey section covers 73 miles.
Former Mountain Lakes resident, Roland Mueser, was a nationally renowned expert on the Appalachian Trail. Mr. Mueser has now unfortunately passed away but his book, “Long Distance Hiking, Lessons from the Appalachian Trail” [Ragged Mountain Press, Camden Maine, 1998] remains a fundamental reference work on the Trail, covering everything from blisters to backpacks and is full of trail-worn wisdom earned the only way that counts — one step at a time. The book is available at the Mountain Lakes Library.