BAMBOO BROOK OUTDOOR EDUCATION CENTER
Longview Rd., Chester Township, Morris County, New Jersey
Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center and Willowwood Arboretum are adjacent properties owned by the Morris County Park Commission located in extreme southern Chester Township.
00.0 US Route 80
59.? Exit 27A for Route 206s
8.1 pass intersection with Route 513 (sign for Hacklebarney State Park)
3.8 right right turn onto Daly Road
00.7 right onto Longview Road
00.6 left park entrance (you will pass by the entrance for Willowwood Arboretum)
Another way is by passing Black River County Park. Proceed 2.5 miles south of Chester on Route 206 to Lamerson Road, a dirt road, and turn right. After a mile, turn left at the fork in the road, onto unmarked Longview Road (there is a sign for the two parks). The new parking lot for Bamboo Brook will be on the right after three-quarters of a mile.
Facilities and Activities:
Cross-country skiing; hiking and nature trails; gardens
Martha and William Hutcheson purchased the Merchiston Farm property in 1911. Martha Brookes Hutcheson was the second woman to be trained as a landscape architect in the United States. She received her training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, finishing the course in 1901. In 1920 she became a member of the American Association of Landscape Architects and a fellow of the group in 1935. She published her book The Spirit of the Garden in 1923.
Bamboo Brook was the farm and estate of Mrs. Hutcheson. She designed and planted a garden adjacent to her house. She used many classical concepts found in both English and Italian gardens such as pools, stone walls, and an interrupted water course. Also include are near and far vistas.
The Morris County Park Commission acquired the farm in 1972
from Mrs. Hutcheson's daughter. It was renamed Bamboo Brook for
the stream that runs through the property.
(Info from the "Self Guiding Trail" booklet of the Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center. Written by Helen Mageau and Michelle Rice.)
The two parks are in a remote corner of Morris County, almost five miles southwest of Chester Borough. You will drive down several miles of dirt road, some adjacent to state wildlife lands adjoining Hacklebarney State Park, before you reach the entrance to Bamboo Brook. Start the walk from the new parking area off Longview Road.
Follow a stairway from the parking lot toward the main buildings of the outdoor education center and turn right. Head toward the open meadow. There are a number of mowed trails in the meadow -- keep going straight ahead at every fork, until you reach the end of the field.
In summer, the field's flowers attract numerous butterflies. Sharp-eyed hikers in June might also spot wild strawberries growing next to or even right on the trail.
Turn left at the end of the meadow, hiking alongside the woods until the trail continues straight into the woods. You will curve to the right and pass a small dammed pond, often alive with frogs.
Next cross Bamboo Brook. Turn left to walk parallel to the brook. At the next junction, turn right and climb rather steeply into the woods. This path will emerge into an even larger meadow, and continue to the right along its edge.
When this path ends, turn right and head toward a line of trees. Under these trees is a gate that marks the dividing line between Bamboo Brook and Willowwood.
Continue through one last open meadow until you reach the dirt road that is the automobile entrance to Willowwood. Walk to the right a few feet, and turn left on the wide grass path, proceeding straight ahead toward the Willowwood buildings.
There are numerous paths to stroll at Willowwood. I suggest visitors who wish to wander through acres of forest full of many different trails obtain a map of Willowwood from the Morris County Park Commission, 53 E. Hanover Ave., Morristown, N.J. 07960, or pick one up at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum gift shop, before starting this walk, as the visitors center at Willowwood is sometimes not open on weekends.
I cannot describe all the possibilities, or the exact turns to take, because paths are crossing and branching off every few feet, but here are two suggestions:
Be sure to see the beautiful cottage garden and a narrow, streamside trail reminiscent of Japanese paintings. Walk to the left on the paved road when you reach the visitors center building and go right adjacent to one of the private residences to enter the garden.
Go through the gate on the other side, and turn left along a small stream (first look for the large bamboo plants on your right). Cross the road and look for a narrow trail under some large, old trees, labeled as cypress trees dating from the 1920s. The trail goes next to a well-manicured pool, alongside the babbling stream and over a steep, narrow stone arch bridge.
When you are through exploring Willowwood, retrace your steps to the visitors center. Head back on the trail you came in on until you reach the dirt road that cars take into and out of Willowwood.
Turn right, then look on the left for the meadow trail marked "Pedestrians Only"' (with a Patriot's Path logo). This is the way back to Bamboo Brook. For variety, take the right-hand fork on the meadow trail to go through the trees and exit Willowwood at a different gate. Bear right at the next fork, enter the woods and head downhill to the Bamboo Brook.
Turn sharp right at the first junction to cross the brook. Look for large trout and sunnies easily visible in the deep pool by the bridge. Go right again, paralleling the brook.
At the second trail turn left to climb the wide path leading through tall shrubbery to the back of the Bamboo Brook buildings. Walk through the old formal garden until you reach the side of the building, then continue uphill to the parking lot.
Time and Distance: About 1.5 hours is needed to complete the
less than two-mile stroll.
Terrain: A few steeper trails near Bamboo Brook, otherwise very gentle terrain.
Source: DAN GOLDFISCHER of Succasunna is the author of several bicycle guidebooks, including "Ride Guide/North Jersey" and "Ride Guide/Central Jersey."
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Aesculus parviflora (bottle-brush buckeye)
Betula pendula (European white birch)
Cladrastis lutea (yellowwood)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Gymnocladus dioica (Kentucky coffee tree)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Magnolia tripetala (umbrella magnolia)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Pinus resinosa (red pine)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle)
Rosa spp. (rose)
Taxus baccata (English yew)
Clematis spp. (clematis)
Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria)
Forsythia suspensa (forsythia)
Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag iris)