Welcome the Spring with a Visit to Union County Parks

Union County, NJ – The trails are still soggy, the trees are bare, and the outlook is for snow on Friday, but witch hazel blossoms, songbirds and other signs of spring are already appearing in Union County parks.

“If your favorite hiking trail is still muddy, come and enjoy a stroll along one of our many paved pathways,” said Freeholder Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh. “Several of the facilities in our parks are in the process of an upgrade, so if you’re planning a visit please be aware of some ongoing work.”

Despite the blustery weather, splashes of color are beginning to appear in Union County parks. Bright yellow witch hazel blossoms are one of the first signs that warmer days are ahead. (Photo credit: Linda M. Brazaitis/County of Union, NJ).
Despite the blustery weather, splashes of color are beginning to appear in Union County parks. Bright yellow witch hazel blossoms are one of the first signs that warmer days are ahead. (Photo credit: Linda M. Brazaitis/County of Union, NJ).

Among the parks where construction is still under way, Briant Park in Summit is receiving a new gazebo and other improvements, and the Lake Surprise dam in the Watchung Reservation is being replaced.

Water in the lake is low while work is going on, but Lake Surprise is still a beautiful spot for hiking and bird-watching. County residents looking for an opportunity to go fishing or boating can use other County parks such as Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

Recently upgraded facilities include a newly turfed athletic field at Warinanco Park in Roselle, along with new seating and lights.

“The turf and lights are essential because they enable us to extend the usable period for existing fields,” Jalloh noted. “By upgrading the resources we already have, we can welcome more users to enjoy these public facilities without the costs and impacts involved in building additional fields.”

Rahway River Park is currently in the planning stages for one such upgrade. As with the field at Warinanco Park, an existing multi-purpose athletic field – which is unusable for long periods during and after wet weather – will be covered with artificial turf, and lights will be installed. The existing track around the field will also be refurbished.

In partnership with the City of Rahway, the field will also receive standard aluminum bleachers to seat up to 1200 persons, along with other amenities.

Rahway River Park was built to include nature conservation, organized sports, and passive recreation. The existing multi-purpose field is located within a developed area original to the design of the park, which dates back to the 1920’s.

Along with the field, the developed area includes five baseball diamonds, a swimming pool with related facilities, four combination tennis/pickleball courts, and a basketball court.

“When the upgrade is complete, Rahway residents and visitors will be able to enjoy a new field with modern amenities, without encroaching on the nature conservation areas of the park,” said Jalloh. “This upgrade is fully consistent with the legacy of our historic parks system, which since the 1920’s has had the twin goals of preserving open space while providing the public with ample opportunities for recreation.”

In addition to recreational activities, every year Union County parks host hundreds of community volunteers who participate in cleanup, beautification, and restoration projects. To join in, visit Union County Adopt-a-Park/Adopt-a-Trail online at ucnj.org, or call 908-789-3683.

For more information on Union County parks, including a searchable list of activities, visit ucnj.org/parks or call 908-527-4900.

Please join the County of Union online at ucnj.org, on Facebook at ucnj.org/facebook, and on Twitter at twitter.com/countyofunionnj.