Escape from the daily grind into nature at South Mountain

South Mountain Reservation is a nature preserve spanning sections of South Orange, Millburn, West Orange and Maplewood that provides individuals with an opportunity to retreat from the intensity and demands of college life and into the woods.

The reservation has many hiking trails for students and Essex County residents. South Orange Avenue divides the reservation in two, with the entrance from South Orange laying directly off South Orange Avenue on the left.

South Mountain Reservation is roughly half an hour’s walk from the Seton Hall University campus or a five to ten minute drive.

According to senior Michael Lombard, South Mountain Reservation further serves as a way to reinvigorate students in the middle of their day.

“I frequently travel up to South Mountain to recharge my batteries (mind) in between classes,” Lombard said.

Junior Katie Leininger remarked about how relaxing she found her walk through the forest.

“I was surprised that there was something like it so close to Seton Hall,” she said.

While students do not require any outstanding gear to hike South Mountain Reservation, it is recommended to wear long pants and long sleeves, especially during autumn and spring.

Also, for those who get lost easily, a map is provided on the Essex County Parks website.

Hikers should plan on bringing along a snack, such as a bagel, as most excursions last roughly half the day.

One of the most recent excursions sponsored by Housing and Residence Life was entitled “The Green Mile,” led by sophomores Matthew Pennington and Zachary Daukshus.

For Pennington, part of South Mountain’s appeal is its proximity to Seton Hall.

“It is the only place to hike and backpack around here that you don’t need a car to get to,” he said.

Aside from the hike, “The Green Mile” also featured information about the outdoor ethics of the “Leave No Trace” program, the ecology of New Jersey and also a talk on sustainability efforts at Seton Hall University.

Personally, when I had found my way out upon a rock in the middle of the Rahway River in in the reservation, the rushing of wind through the trees and flowers resonated within me.

Simply watching leaves fall from the trees was a moving and thought-provoking experience.

In an increasingly interconnected, and, at times, interdependent world, rife with various obligations and responsibilities, it is frightening how easy it is for people to lose a sense of themselves.

The repetitiveness of everyday interactions can, at times, be equally debilitating.

One way I found to achieve a sense of inner tranquility, and to regain that sense of self, is to search for oneself within a larger, exterior world.

The South Mountain Reservation provides such a therapeutic experience.

Ed Millar can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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