South Mountain Reservation — An Opportunity Realized

Ever since I moved out here in 1989 I’ve kind of marvelled at how such a lovely spot as the reservoir in South Mountain Reservation could be totally off-limits. Fenced in on all sides, dilapidated grounds, and so on.

Two years ago, the county leased the area from the East Orange Water Company, and immediately commenced building a park.

And just two short years later, there’s this full-blown recreational complex. Swan boats, trails, a playground, zip line, benches and picnic areas. It’s actually really nice to walk the 1.7-mile loop around the water.

As before, the north end of the reservoir is anchored by a branch of the McLoon’s chain — a really nice lodge-style place with verandas over the water, roaring fireplaces inside, and a rather expensive menu of so-so food. But even that can be negotiated with either a selection of small plates or their very good burger.

So I’m not complaining. This fall, as the trees changed color and the sun was setting, it was, um, really nice. Funny story: My son came back for a visit a few months ago. The last time he was in the area it hadn’t even been started. He said it was nice, but it wasn’t the same if you didn’t have to crawl under the fence to get there. Kids.

A large body of water like this of course attracts some nice migratory birds.

Being a reservoir, there are fountains set up to aerate the water.

Just for fun, the three of them are lit up with red, white or blue spotlights.

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A nice spot. Some weekend when we’re feeling ambitious, we could actually walk there. It’s maybe an hour away on foot.

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