Despite the fact that it is located in the midst of suburbia and surrounded by private homes, the Celery Farm Natural Area 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 Natural Area was owned in the 1800s by Henry J. Appert, who cultivated onions and celery on land surrounding what was then known as Wolf Lake. The area remained a working farm until the 1950s. The land was subsequently 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 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 250 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 (with a bench) at the south end of the pond and then head north between the pond (on your left) and a wide ditch (on your right). Along the way, you’ll pass two more viewpoints along the eastern shore. The first viewpoint has a bench; the second viewpoint has a raised observation platform, known as the Pirie-Mayhood Tower. When you reach the northeast corner of the pond, you'll come to a fork, where you should bear left to follow the main trail around the pond. The area on the right has been fenced in to exclude deer and thereby protect the native vegetation.
Bear left again at the next fork. After crossing a marsh on a footbridge 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 Pauline Oxnard 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.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
Take N.J. Route 17 to the Allendale exit. Proceed west on East Allendale Avenue for 0.5 mile (0.9 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 a sign for the "Borough of Allendale - Celery Farm Nature Preserve." (If the parking area is full, cars may be parked on Pittis Avenue, the next street on the left.)
TRAIN TRANSPORT :
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.
Thanks for a great description. It was really very helpful.
This is a nice family walk indeed, very easy. I went on a hot and muggy day and it was a shourt enough trip around that it wasn't too bad. The trail is cleared enough that I was able to push a stroller on it (A big wheeled, off road stroller - a lot of strollers probably wouldn't be able to handle it).
Saw lots and lots of Turtles too, which was really nice.