Full Guide for Visiting & Hiking Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation is a unique spot in Union County that spans a few towns, boasts a lake and deserted village, and is even the home of fossils. What else do you need to know? Put on your hiking boots and get outside to explore this outdoor spot.

Lake Surprise

The Lake Surprise Loop is one of the most well-traveled hikes in Watchung Reservation. It loops around the lake, with a few off-shoots of trails if you want to make your hike a little longer. Be careful of mud in the spring and fall, though!

Feltville Deserted Village

On the north side of the park you can access the parking lot that leads you to the deserted village. 

Feltville Deserted Village


Back in 1736, a family settled in the area now known as Watchung Reservation and opened a sawmill. After failing, another man, David Felt, bought the land in 1844 and built a mill. After 15 years of operating (and again failing to bring business to the area), it was again deserted. In 1882, the land was bought again and transformed the area into a “summer resort.” It failed for a final time in the early 1900’s and has since been said to be “haunted.” Read more on WeirdNJ.

You can visit a few abandoned buildings (not inside!), the visitor’s center, and the graveyard. People still live there, so please be respectful of their space.

Nature Center 

Visit the Trailside Nature & Science Center for programs and nature walks in Union County. This nature center also boasts the county’s first sensory friendly trail, as well as children’s programs, workshops, and more.

Other Hiking Spots in Watchung Reservation

The Sierra Trail is one of the most popular in the park — it spans 10 miles and loops around the entire reservation. You can also take shorter loops around the Nature Center or cut through the middle of the Sierra Trail for a shorter jaunt through the park.

Want more nature in this area? Check out these guides:

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