Whether you’re training for the New York City Marathon, getting some exercise, or strolling on a Sunday, Essex County offers plenty of paths to tread. Much of the county is full of hilly roads, making for a challenging and rigorous workout on local streets. But with an abundance of nature around, there are also many options for those who want softer routes for more leisurely workouts. If you’re on the hunt for more scenic routes, we’ve rounded up a list of local outdoor exercise paths in Essex County.
Anderson Park | 313-359 North Mountain Avenue, Montclair
This Olmsted Brothers-designed, 14-acre park is in Upper Montclair and is located catty-corner from the train station. A 3/5-mile asphalt jogging path encircles the meadow and is wheelchair friendly. If you’re searching for an easier and flatter path, this is a great option. This peaceful neighborhood park attracts all ages and is also an ideal spot for a post-run picnic.
Degnan Park | Alisa Drive + Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange
The path in this small but pretty park is mainly asphalt but has dirt on one side. It passes by a baseball field, a playground, and a small pond that allows fishing. There are also five tennis courts in this park for a post-run game. The park is quiet and not too crowded, offering a tranquil and low-intensity path to walk and unwind after work.
Read More: Where to Go Hiking in the Montclair Area
Eagle Rock Reservation | Prospect Avenue + Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange
(Photo credit: @essexparks)
With 408 acres of woodland, there are many paths to choose from within the reservation. It is known for having fun hiking trails for all ages and hiking abilities. Three popular loops are the moderately challenging 1.3-mile Yellow and Red Trail Loop (which takes about 30 minutes to hike), the longer but easier Red Trail Loop of 3.4 miles (which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to hike), and the easier 1.5-mile Blue Trail (which takes about 35 minutes to hike). The Essex County 9/11 Memorial is also situated within the reservation with a view of the city.
Mills Reservation | Normal Avenue + Reservoir Drive, Cedar Grove
Most of the 157 acres in this reservation have been preserved as nature intended, which was part of the agreement when the Davella Mills Foundation gifted the land to the Essex County Park Commission in 1954. Four main trails were created within the reserve, and the Blue Trail leads to an overlook with a view of the New York City skyline. The path is mainly gravel but can be muddy in parts, so be sure to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. This is a great option for easy and quick trails with beautiful views.
South Mountain Reservation | Cherry Lane, West Orange
(Photo credit: @essexparks)
This reserve is in the center of Essex County and spans through the towns of Maplewood, Millburn, West Orange, and borders South Orange. With more than 2,100 acres, it has six trails ranging from 1/2-mile to six miles. The Orange Reservoir Loop within the reserve is a 1.8-mile paved, mostly flat course around the Orange Reservoir and Rahway River. The trails range from easy to intermediate, and with myriad distances to choose from, you can pick your own adventure at South Mountain Reservation.
Verona Park | Bloomfield Avenue + Lakeside Avenue, Verona
Located along Bloomfield and Lakeside Avenues, this beautiful 54-acre park is the fifth largest in the Essex County Park System and offers a winding but mostly flat 1.4-mile paved path. Many hopeful fishers line the 13-acre lake by the footpath, and picnickers are plentiful in warmer weather. The bridge and boathouse offer nice spots to catch your breath and take in the views of this Olmsted-designed park. Hikers have also pointed out that this is a great spot to bird watch.
West Essex Trail | 201 Fairview Avenue, Verona
This rail trail follows the path of the Caldwell Branch Line, which was part of the former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. The path cuts through towns and wooded areas. Its 23 acres equal roughly a 2.84-mile route one-way: an out and back is nearly a 10k. The footpath is made of cinder and gravel. This is considered an easy hike, though you should plan for the full round-trip journey to take about two hours.