1 Parker Road
Chester, NJ 07930
Phone: (908) 879-5100
Fax: (908) 879-8281
Chester Township Parks
The Township of Chester currently owns eight fine park facilities that are available for use by Township residents. The Township continues to try to meet the needs of the community for open space and recreational facilities as well as resource protection for the long-term health of the community. The Township's successful open space acquisition program is funded in part by a dedicated property tax levy of .02/ $100.00 of assessed value. The funds collected have been used in conjunction with grants from the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund and the State of New Jersey's Green Acres Program. The Township's parks are administered by the Parks Advisory Committee, an appointed volunteer group, which is responsible for developing park facilities, setting park rules, and governing park use by groups. Groups interested in using park facilities may obtain an application form and a schedule of fees for use from the Township Municipal Building.
General Park Rules and Regulations
Donated to the Township by the Chubb Family, this 85 acre facility is the Township's busiest park. It is located on Route 24, 1/2 mile West of Route 206 and has the following attractions
The tennis courts at Chubb Park are open for use from mid-March through mid-December, weather permitting. The Ice Skating Pond is monitored by Township volunteers for safe skating conditions. No skating is permitted on the pond until a minimum thickness of four inches is achieved. When the ice is safe for skating, a green skating is permitted sign is placed at the Ice Skating Shelter. Unsafe ice conditions are signified by red no skating sign at the shelter.
The athletic fields and show ground facilities at Chubb Park are available for group reservation each year. Most athletic programs serving the Chester area use the park during their seasons. Groups are required to present an application for reservation of the park and a Certificate of Liability Insurance for the organization.
Athletic groups serving Chester area youth must complete criminal history background checks for all administrators and volunteers.
Applications are reviewed for approval by the Park Advisory Committee at their monthly meeting. Groups seeking to reserve facilities at Chubb Park should file applications a minimum of sixty days prior to the event or season start-up. Some events require the payment of a fee and damage security deposit as well as evidence of insurance.
Chubb Park is the site of several annual events. The Chester Volunteer Fire Company's annual Carnival & Fireworks is held each year during the last week of June. Each July, the Morris County 4-H Fair takes place and in late September, the Chester Lions Club hosts their annual Octoberfest.
Tiger Brook Park
Purchased with the assistance of the New Jersey Green Acres Program in 1980, this 270 acre preserve contains a ten acre reservoir. The Park is located on Cooper Lane, 1/4 mile east of Route 206
A parking lot was constructed in 1992 to accommodate increased visitors to the area. The lot, located immediately adjacent to Cooper Lane, provides access to the preserve's service road and to a system of trails within the park. A map of trails is available from the Township Clerk's office.
Black River Park
This park is located on property leased from the West Morris and Chester Township Boards of Education. Two tournament quality multi purpose fields complete with an underground irrigation system were constructed in 1995 and were opened for use in 1996.
A permanent concession building with bathroom facilities has also been added. The building was constructed and funded by the Chester Police Athletic Association. A little league baseball field was completed and a small picnic area is available. The park is located on Route 513 (North Road) 1 mile east of Route 24.
MacGregor Preserve consists of 159.51 mostly wooded acres on Old Chester-Gladstone Road. The property was purchased in January 2001 for $3.2 million from the Estate of Samuel C. MacGregor. This property was purchased through the combination of a Morris County Open Space Trust Fund grant, a grant from the State Green Acres Program and money from the Township Open Space Trust Fund.
The MacGregor Preserve is adjacent to the Township's existing Tiger Brook Park and together, the two parks provide 430 acres of contiguous open space. Peapack Brook, a major tributary of the North Branch of the Raritan River and a state classified Trout Production stream flows through the park.
Hiking trails connect the MacGregor Preserve with Tiger Brook Park. The entrance to the property is located on Old Chester-Gladstone Road, just south of Route 206 where a gravel parking area for 8 cars is provided.
Evans Family Forest Preserve
The Evans Family Forest Preserve was purchased in December 1999 with a combination of funds from the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund, a Green Acres Grant from the State of New Jersey and funds from the Chester Township Open Space Trust Fund. This 110-acre tract is primarily wooded. It is traversed by Ayers Brook, which is classified as a Trout-Production Stream. This park is available for passive recreation. A trail system for hiking is currently under construction.
Future plans are for the addition of an interpretive nature trail and Scout Camping Area. Catch-and-release fishing for trout in Ayers Brook is permitted but restricted to artificial lures with barb-less hooks only.
Evans Preserve can be accessed at the Trailhead located at the end of Willow Drive where parking area is available or at the Trailhead on South Road where there is a gravel parking area that can accommodate 2 cars.
Highlands Ridge Park
The newest addition to the Township's parkland, the 113 acre Highlands Ridge Park (formerly Bell Labs' Telcordia Tract) was purchased in July 2004. Directly adjacent to the Evans Family Forest Preserve, the two parcels combined provide a total of 223 acres of contiguous parkland. Locally known as the "Telephone Pole Farm", the park was formerly a long-term test facility for AT&T.
The Township is in the process of developing a long range plan for the use of this park. Telcordia provides a connection between the Evans Preserve and the remainder of the permanently preserved open space in the Township. Currently, the system of hiking trails in the Evans Preserve is being expanded to provide access to Telcordia for hikers. The property was purchased for $6 million which was paid for with a combination of Township funds, a grant from the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund and a State of New Jersey Green Acres grant.
Allen & Knight Tracts
Chester also owns two large wooded parcels in the southwest portion of the Township. The Knight property and the Allen property were acquired in 1998 as part of the Black River Greenway project. These properties provide connections between Morris County’s Kay Environmental Center and Bamboo Brook and Willowood Arboretum. Management of these properties is handled under an agreement with the Morris County Park Commission.
Combined these properties consist of almost 400 acres of heavily wooded land. Well marked hiking trails connecting Willowood with the Kay Center and the Cooper Mill cross the properties. The properties were purchased through a combination of State of New Jersey Green Acres Program low-interest loans and donations of value by the former land owners.
Morris County Parks
For more information, visit the Morris County Park Commission web site.
The Cooper Mill
This mill is the oldest existing mill in Morris County and is on the National Historic Register. Built in 1826 and renovated in the 1980's, it provides visitors with an opportunity to see how grain was processed in the 1800's. The mill is part of Black River Park containing 578 acres used for fishing and other passive recreational activities. This park is located on Route 24 and State Park Road 1-1/2 miles west of Route 206.
Bamboo Brook and Willowwood Arboretum
This facility offers programs in environmental and natural sciences. The gardens at Bamboo Brook were developed over a thirty-year period by Martha Brookes Hutcheson, a noted landscape architect during the early 1900's. The Willowwood Arboretum, containing 3,500 species of native and exotic plants, was acquired by the County from Rutgers University. These areas are located on Longview Road in the southern portion of Chester Township.
Mount Paul Memorial Park
This park, located off Route 24, consists of 285 acres of wooded and undeveloped land.
Kay Environmental Center
The center, located on Pottersville Rd., is home to the New Jersey Office of Nature Conservancy. There are numerous walking trails on the property leading to the Cooper Mill. A map is available in the parking area.
New Jersey State Lands
Hacklebarney State Park
This park was established in 1924 when 32 acres of land were donated to the State by Adolph E. Borie. In 1967, the eastern portion (113 acres) of the original natural area of the park was donated by Anita Morle-Smith Knight. Through Green Acres acquisition, an additional 380 acres were acquired from 1964 to 1974. Additional acreage was obtained through donations and capital purchases bringing the current park size to 890 acres. Of the total acreage, 708 acres are located in Chester Township off State Park Road. Hacklebarney State Park is primarily wooded and provides passive recreational opportunities, such as picnicking, fishing, and walking. The Black River, which bisects the park, is one of the premier trout fishing streams in New Jersey.
Black River Fish and Wildlife Management Area
This area consists of 3,020 acres in the northern portion of the Township. It was purchased under the Green Acres Acquisition Program for passive recreational activities, including fishing, hunting, canoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking along the abandoned right of way of the former Chester Branch of the DL&W Railroad. Morris County's Patriot's Path hiking trail crosses through the Black River WMA. This area is heavily used during the hunting season and non-hunters should check with the park office on Route 513 before using this area in the fall and winter.
The Chester Township and Chester Borough Environmental Commissions, along with Conservation Resources Inc., are pleased to present the Chester Integrated Trails Plan, created with funds granted by the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. This Integrated Trails Plan makes recommendations for how to link trails, parks, open space, library, schools, and shopping with neighborhoods and regional trail networks. The plan also includes themed hikes such as a history hike and geology hike. To learn more about this plan and to find trail maps that can be downloaded, please visit www.ChesterTrails.org.