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Celery Farm Natural Area
This hike loops around a scenic pond on a level footpath.
Take N.J. Route 17 to the Allendale exit. Proceed west on East Allendale Avenue for 0.5 mile (0.8 mile, if coming from Route 17 north) to Cottage Place. Turn right on Cottage Place and follow it to its end at Franklin Turnpike. Turn right on Franklin Turnpike and proceed for about 500 feet to a small parking area on the right (just past Allison Court, on the left) with signs "Green Acres" and "Wildlife Sanctuary." (If the parking area is full, cars may be parked on Pittis Avenue, the next street on the left.) GPS address: 500 Franklin Turnpike, Allendale, NJ.
Take NJ Transit's Main Line/Bergen County Line to the Allendale station. From the east (northbound) side of the tracks, turn left onto Central Avenue and follow it to its end at Myrtle Avenue. Turn left on Myrtle Avenue and continue to Pittis Avenue. Turn right on Pittis Avenue and follow it to its end at Franklin Turnpike. Turn right on Franklin Turnpike and continue for about 500 feet to the entrance to the Celery Farm Natural Area, on the left. The distance from the train station to the park is about half a mile.
Despite the fact that it is located in the midst of suburbia and surrounded by private homes, the Celery Farm is a magnificent oasis which allows one to experience the beauty of nature while looping around a scenic pond. The dense vegetation surrounding the pond largely obscures the view of the surrounding homes, and it is indeed hard to believe that you are in the midst of a developed community! Because of its short length and easy terrain, this is an ideal hike for families with young children.
What is now known as the Celery Farm was owned in the 1800s by Henry J. Appert, who cultivated onions and celery on land surrounding what was then known as Wolf Lake. In the 1940s, the land was purchased by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and in 1981, 60 acres were acquired by the Borough of Allendale through Green Acres funding. Subsequent donations from developers and residents have increased the total acreage to 107 acres. The property is jointly managed by the Borough of Allendale and the Fyke Nature Association.
From the kiosk at the parking area, cross a wooden bridge over a drainage ditch and proceed ahead on a footpath. A short distance ahead, you'll cross another wooden bridge and come to a T-intersection. Turn left to reach a wooden observation platform with a panoramic view over the pond, now known as Lake Appert. The area is a bird sanctuary, and over 240 species of birds have been recorded here.
After taking in the view, retrace your steps to the intersection and continue ahead, looping around the pond in a counter-clockwise direction. You'll pass another viewpoint at the south end of the pond and then head north between the pond (on your left) and a wide ditch (on your right), passing two more viewpoints (one with a raised observation platform) along the eastern shore. When you reach the northeast corner of the pond, several side trails branch off to the right, but you should bear left at each intersection to follow the main trail around the pond.
After crossing a marsh on two footbridges and passing another observation platform, you'll cross an area of cattails and come to the northwest corner of the pond. Here, a trail to the right leads into the Butterfly Garden. At the junction, there is an interesting old piece of farm machinery. Bear left and head south along the trail which, after several turns, begins to parallel Franklin Turnpike. You'll cross a boardwalk over a wet area and, a short distance beyond, reach the footbridge on the right that leads to the parking area where the hike began.
A trail map can be downloaded at www.fykenature.org/cfmap.html
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.