Category Archives: Remnant Wetlands

Teaneck’s Tokaloka Park!


Tokoloka Park Entrance at Maitland Avenue and Jefferson Street

Tokoloka Park Entrance at Maitland Avenue and Jefferson Street

Teaneck’s Tokaloka Park is a remnant 10.58 acre deciduous wooded wetland. The preserve is completely surrounded  by dense housing development making the park a true forest island.

Tokoloka Park

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.

Vernal Pool

Vernal Pool in Winter

Below is a picture of the same vernal pond taken in the summer months.

Dried Vernal Pool in summer

Dried Vernal Pool in summer

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.

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Another indicator that wetlands abound is the presence of  several buttressed tree trunks. Trees may develop enlarged trunks  in response to frequent inundation.

Buttressed tree trunk

Buttressed tree trunk

Finally, there were several smaller vernal ponds present in the forest.

Small Vernal Pond

Small Vernal Pond

Trail

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.

Tokoloka Park Trail Map

Tokaloka Park Trail Map

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.

Tokoloka Park Summer View

Tokaloka Park Summer View

Tokoloka Park Winter View

Tokaloka Park Winter View

Flora

In addition to skunk cabbage, the forest features a nice diversity of plants. They include:

Solomon Seal

Solomon’s Seal

Fauna

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!

Directions:

Click here

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!

Exploring Teaneck’s Phelps Park Arboretum!


Phelps Park

Phelps Park

Teaneck’s Phelps Park is a beautiful manicured 15.71 acre urban park that many consider to be one of the finest jewels in the Teaneck park system.

Phelps Park with wetlands shown near bottom right

Map of Phelps Park with wetlands highlighted near bottom

A small estimated .46 of an acre south of the Aboretum is remnant wetlands, which is most unusual to find in an urban park.  At one time a stream flowed through this area on the way to the Hackensack River.

The park boasts many fine amenities typical of urban parks such as baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, picnic area and a swimming pool. But the feature that stands out is the 1 acre Arboretum. Phelps Park is the only park in Teaneck’s park system to feature an Arboretum.

Arboretum Area

Arboretum Area Phelps Park

This section of the park (located in the most northern section of the park near River Road) was designated an Arboretum in 2002.

Arboretum

Bench in Phelps Park Arboretum

It makes sense for this park to contain an arboretum. It is named after William Phelps who once owned half of Teaneck and was fond of planting trees.

The Arboretum features an estimated 150 trees. Most of the trees consist of varieties of Oak such as Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, and White Oak.  Other trees include:

Gray Birch

Gray Birch Phelps Park

Many trees have labels on them (most are placed high on the trees) with the common and scientific name of the tree.

Black Cherry

Black Cherry Phelps Park

Phelps park is heavily used by FDU students (FDU is located right across the street from the park) and local residents and is worth a look for those interested in a museum of trees.

Phelp's Park

Phelps Park

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!

Click Here for Directions!

Check out these great books on urban trees!

The Urban Tree Book

City Trees: A Historical Geography from the Renaissance through the Nineteenth Century

Urban Arboreal: A Modern Glossary of City Trees

Oradell’s Lotus Woods Nature Walk!


Lotus Woods Nature Walk

Lotus Woods Nature Walk

The Borough of Oradell‘s Lotus Woods Nature Walk located in densely populated Bergen County NJ is a 10 acre deciduous wooded wetland preserve featuring a woodland trail next to the Van Saun Mill Brook, a tributary to the Hackensack River.

Lotus Woods Nature Walk

Lotus Woods Nature Walk

The woods were preserved by the Mayor and Council of Oradell in the early nineties. The trail, which follows the Van Saun Mill Brook from Amaryllis Avenue to Soldier Hill Road, has been maintained by the Oradell Boy Scouts since 1991. The boy scouts help remove invasive plants and replace them with native plants. The Lotus Woods Nature Walk is a forest island completely surrounded by dense residential development. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at the photo below.

Trail

The Van Saun Mill Brook flows through the center of the woods. The Van Saun Mill Brook is monitored by the Bergen County Environmental Council further south of the preserve in nearby Van Saun Park three times a year to determine the quality of the water. The Lotus Woods help to protect the Van Saun Mill Brook from non-point source pollution

Van Suan Mill Brook

Van Suan Mill Brook

Much of the preserve is dominated by typical wetland vegetation such as Sensitive Fern and Skunk Cabbage.

Sensitive Fern

Sensitive Fern

The trail is level and is an easy pleasant walk.  The main entrance  to the preserve is on Amaryllis Avenue between Seminole Street and Summit Avenue in Oradell. It’s a nice slice of nature.

Click here for directions

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!

James A. McFaul Environmental Center!


James A. McFaul Environmental Center

James A McFaul Environmental Center

The James A McFaul Environmental Center is an 81 acre nature preserve located in Wyckoff, NJ.

James McFaul Environmental Center

James McFaul Environmental Center

The environmental center was originally a pig farm and was acquired by Bergen County in 1962 with assistance from Green Acres.  It was named the James A. McFaul Environmental Center in 1990 to honor a Bergen County parks director who did much to acquire this beautiful nature preserve.

Pond

Pond

The 2.5 acre pond was created in 1966 by impounding a Goffle Brook tributary.

Goffle Brook Tributary

Goffle Brook Tributary

A boardwalk extends out over wetlands and provides views of the pond.

Environmental Boardwalk

Environmental Boardwalk

The educational center, which looks out into the pond, includes freshwater aquariums, educational signage and live native animal displays.

Life in a Pond Educational Display

Life in a Pond Educational Display

There are outdoor animal shelters which features Porcupine, White-Tailed DeerGolden Eagle, Red Fox, Eastern Screech Owls and Red-Tailed Hawk exhibits among others.

Porcupine

Porcupine

Outdoor Turtle Display

Outdoor Turtle Display

In addition to live animal displays, the James A. McFaul Environmental Center provides much needed habitat to a multitude of birds and other native wildlife such as:

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird

Canadian Geese

Canadian Geese

White Tail Deer

White Tail Deer

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

Muskrat

Muskrat

Near the entrance to the environmental center, there are Rhododendron and seasonal Daffodil gardens to be enjoyed.

Gardens

Gardens

Nature Trail

McFaul Environmental Center Map

Trail map posted above was taken from the Bergen County Parks Department web page.

Welcome

Welcome to the Nature Center!

Trail

The preserve features a 2/3 of a mile interpretive nature trail which loops around a seasonal swamp and upland.

Nature Trail deciduous wooded wetlands

Deciduous Wooded Wetlands

As you wind along the path, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as White-Tailed Deer, Eastern Chipmunks and Red-Tailed Hawks. Frequent signage appears on the trail to help the hiker to identify the surrounding flora and fauna.

Lowland Habitat Interpretive Signage

Lowland Habitat Interpretive Signage

Tree Cavity Interpretive Signage

Tree Cavity Interpretive Signage

Flora includes the below among others:

James A. McFaul Environmental Center

Check out Plant Communities of New Jersey.

NJ’s geology, topography and soil, climate, plant-plant and plant-animal relationships, and the human impact on the environment are all discussed in great detail. Twelve plant habitats are described and the authors were good enough to put in examples of where to visit!

Click here for more information!

Want to check out the James A. McFaul Environmental Center for yourself? Click here for directions (or put this address in your GPS: 150 Crescent Ave. Wyckoff, NJ 07481)!

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!

Check out the latest bird sightings here!

Bonnabel Nature Park at Lachmund’s Bend!


 

Bonnabel Nature Park at Lachmund's Park Sign

Bonnabel nature Park at Lachmund’s Bend

Bonnabel Nature Park

Bonnabel Nature Park

Welcome to Old Tappan’s Bonnabel Nature Park! The park’s 3.26 acres consists of uplands and wetlands and is a pleasant respite from the suburban development that surround it. The park has the Hackensack River and its remnant watershed lands to the west and south, Old Tappan Road to the north, and additional remnant Hackensack River watershed lands to the east.

The land which became Bonnabel Nature Park at Lachmund’s Bend was purchased October 17, 2007 from the Bonnabel family by the borough of Old Tappan for $950,000 with a combination of Green Acres, Borough Open Space and Municipal Bond Ordinance funding for use as open space. The park was established in 2008.

7.03 (38)

The 3.26 acre site is situated next to the trout stocked upper Hackensack River (which is given C1 Status at this location) and Suez watershed land.

Hackensack River

Hackensack River

Bonnabel Nature Park features trails, picnic tables, benches and fishing.

Trout Stocked Water = Upper Hackensack RiverCool Seat

Flora at the park includes:

The property was once the site of a popular hotel called Lachmunds which existed from the late 1800’s until it was demolished in 1954. Today, instead of a hotel, the land is a beautiful nature preserve for the people of Old Tappan and surrounding communities to enjoy.

Ferns

Hay-scented Fern

Bonnabel Nature Park at Lachmund’s Bend is located off of Old Tappan Road near Recktenwald Court by the Rivervale border.

Click here for directions. Please note that Unfortunately, Mapquest does not recognize the park’s entrance as an address. These directions will culminate to Recktenwald Court.  The park is located just southeast of Recktenwald Court on Old Tappan Road. A gravel lot in the park is provided for parking.

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!