ROCKAWAY RIVER WMA
Jefferson Township, Morris County, NJ


Directions:

Located south of the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation

From the New York City area, take I-80 west to the exit for Route 15 north; drive 2.0 miles and turn right onto Berkshire Valley Road; drive 2.0 miles north crossing over the Rockaway River; the parking area is just beyond the junction with Taylor Road. 

(For maps see: www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/wmaland.htm)


Geology:

Includes Mase Mountain (west of Rockaway River) and Green Pond Mountain (east of Rockaway River).  Located southwest of Longwood Lake.  It also includes Beaver Brook, which arises out of a marsh known as Lost Lake.


History:

The name Rockaway comes from Rechouwakie, "Place of sands" from l'eckwa, "sand" and auke, "Place." 

1997  --  New Jersey’s Green Acres program bought 2,447 acres of Jersey City watershed lands in Jefferson Township that became part of the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area, the state's newest hunting and wildlife preserve. The property protects four miles of the Rockaway River. Many other open space, land preservation, brownfields, and river restoration projects are under way.
(Source:  http://www.nps.gov/phso/rtca/grnmgmt4.htm#rock)

Victory at Mase Mountain (NJ); Legal intervention by members of the Highlands Coalition has helped prevent intense residential development on Mase Mountain, a critical 850-acre parcel in the northwest section of a southwest spur of the Rocakaway River WMA that is part of a Central Highlands greenbelt of unfragmented forest. This greenbelt includes the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Mahlon-Dickerson Reservation, and Sparta Mountain WMA.

The tract's owner, Baker-Firestone, brought suit to compel Jefferson Township to adopt residential zoning inconsistent with the natural resource attributes of the site. Baker Firestone argued that a 1996 Township ordinance changing the zoning from residential to commercial prevented them from developing altogether.

Environmental Defense (ED), Friends of Holland Mountain and NJ Conservation Foundation, represented by ED and the Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic, intervened on behalf of the Township, to make sure environmental issues were considered. In May, Superior Court Judge Reginald Stanton upheld the Township's zoning, and also suggested that it might make sense to preserve the land as open space. The state has long expressed an interest in acquiring the tract.

(Source: Garden Staste EnviroNet ; http://www.gsenet.org/library/11gsn/2000/gs01006b.php)


Trails:

The Farny Highlands Trail Network is a greenway that links large undeveloped areas -- a state park and natural area, two wildlife management areas, watershed lands, county and municipal parks and private lands. The planned Farny Highlands Trail Network will consist of 50 miles of hiking trails that connect with the 150-mile Highlands Trail.

Currently, the Network consists of 3 hiking only trails.

1)  The 19-mile Four Birds Trail travels from Hibernia north, along the west side of the Split Rock Reservoir, to Route 23.

2)  The Split Rock Loop Trail connects with the Four Birds Trail and circles the east side of Split Rock Reservoir. This trail is closed until the State DEP develops a management plan for the area.

3)  The Beaver Brook Trail is located in Jefferson Township. The trail travels through the new Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area, beginning at Berkshire Valley Road, and connects with the NY-NJ Highlands Trail in Mahlon Dickerson County Park.

(Source: http://www.morrislandconservancy.org/FarnyTrailNetwork.html)

The Beaver Brook Trail heads through the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area.  This is a rough trail with ups and downs.  The round-trip to Lost Lake and back  is a 6.2 mile walk. 

4/12/2005.  Dog Sonar and I parked at the pull-off area just north of the bridge and Taylor Road.  There is a white-blazed trail that heads into the woods.  It then starts gradually climbing the ridge.  In difficulty, I guess it would be moderate because I did have to stop quite a few times to catch my breath.  About 3/4s of the way up the ridge, the trail suddenly turns right.  It then heads north up to Lost Lake.  The trail goes along the edge of the ridge.  There are some nice viewing areas. Looking south I could see three or four water towers sticking out above the trees.  The Rockaway River here is located in a valley between two ridges.  I was able to catch through the trees several glimpses  of the river.  There are several pull-offs along Taylor Road where one can explore some interesting areas.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

* = plant found in bloom on date of field trip, 4/12/2005


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple) *
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata. (striped wintergreen)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) *
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Vaccinium sp. (hillside or low bush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaved viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Vines:
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Corydalis sp. (corydalis)
Goodyera pubescens (rattlesnake plantain)
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)
Potentilla sp. (cinquefoil)
Prenanthes sp. (rattlesnake root)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Grasses:
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Lycopodium obscurum (ground pine)
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polypodium sp. (rockcap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)


Some plants from: Glenn Scherer., 1998.  Nature Walks in New Jersey: A Guide to the Best Trails from the Highlands to Cape May. Boston, MA: Appalachian Mountain Club Books.