Teaneck’s Tokaloka Park!
Tokaloka Park was once part of 50 acres of land owned by Christian Cole who was one of the township’s first council members. The land that ultimately became Tokaloka Park consists of over 70% of forested wetlands and was considered unsuitable for development when suburban sprawl began in the 1930s. The name of the park was derived from a large pond that once existed in the park called Tokaloka. Tokaloka pond may be gone, but a vernal pond still exists near the western border.
Below is a picture of the same vernal pond taken in the summer months.
Many signs exist in this nature preserve indicating that the land is a remnant forested wetland. For example, skunk cabbage is abundant throughout most of the woodland. Skunk cabbage is an obligate plant-meaning that it is found growing in wetlands 99% of the time.
Another indicator that wetlands abound is the presence of several buttressed tree trunks. Trees may develop enlarged trunks in response to frequent inundation.
Finally, there were several smaller vernal ponds present in the forest.
As of this writing the only official trail is a gently sloping path which leads from the entrance to the park at Maitland Avenue and Jefferson Street to its terminus at Dearborn Street. However, future plans, as indicated in the picture listed below, show a possible trail traversing the northern portion of the preserve including a loop around the vernal pond. This trail is recommended to have interpretive signage which would be a real plus in educating the public the value of this remnant natural area.
These changes were proposed in the 2008 Township of Teaneck comprehensive plan for recreation (this plan is no longer available online). The short (estimated .15 of a mile) existing trail only encourages you to really take your time and enjoy the sights and sounds of this unique woodland. The forest is always changing as indicated in the pictures below of the same scene taken at summer and winter.
In addition to skunk cabbage, the forest features a nice diversity of plants. They include:
The most amazing and unexpected event occurred last time I visited. Several White-tailed deer were present near the main vernal pond and took off with their white tail in the air as I arrived near them. What a surprise to find in a forest island completely surrounded by development!
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!