Eagle Rock Reservation

Eagle Rock Reservation is a 408.33-acre forested parcel of property on the peak of Watchung’s First Mountain in Essex County, New Jersey. Bald eagles were supposed to nest among the steep cliffs on the mountain’s eastern border in the early 1800s, giving it its name. The area is mostly undeveloped, with bridle routes and hiking trails crisscrossing it. Visitors may enjoy a beautiful view of the New York skyline from Lookout Point. More interesting reads.


The initial land acquisition was made in 1895, and the whole track was completed in 1907. In the early 1900s, the Olmsted Firm refined a tentative plan for the reserve produced by Frederick Law Olmsted.


The original casino, completed in 1911, was a historical edifice situated on the summit. This was a masonry shelter with a series of arches exposed to the elements. The Highlawn Pavilion restaurant has subsequently taken its place. The building, which had been vandalized and was about to be demolished, was preserved due to this. (A “casino” is a country home or summer residence in the Italian style.)


The trolley line to the foot of Eagle Rock Avenue was put into service in 1894. This line was an extension of Orange Crosstown’s Washington Street terminus. It extended from Washington Street to its right-of-way via Watchung Avenue, Chestnut Street, Oxford Place, Cherry Street to Harrison Avenue, and then to Eagle Rock Avenue. The Eagle Rock line was built to provide inexpensive transportation to Eagle Rock, which had become a Mecca for Sunday picnickers due to its high height and spectacular views of the burgeoning metropolitan region. However, because of the steep incline, the Eagle Rock line’s proponents knew that operating a trolley to the top of the hill would be impracticable. So instead, they relied on their customers to climb the last hundred feet up a zigzag trail built along the cliff’s edge.


The park was a popular hangout for weekend revelers. Visitors would board a trolley in New York, transfer in Newark, and then board another trolley through the Orange line to Harrison Avenue. Then, they could either hike to the top of the mountain or transfer to the Eagle Rock line.


Automobile enthusiasts of the time organized races up Eagle Rock Avenue, which ended at Eagle Rock Park, on cobblestones.


The Eagle Rock Reservation, situated between West Orange, Montclair, and Verona, is a 400-acre park along the ridgeline of the Watchung Mountains. The park’s eastern side is skirted by the 40-mile Lenape Trail (yellow blazes). Hikers of all ages and abilities may enjoy the park’s hiking routes and walkways, crisscrossing the park’s forest (and often marshy) regions.


The park’s main entrance, on Eagle Rock Avenue, has a vast green, the Essex County 9/11 Memorial, and an overlook to the east with spectacular views of the New York City Skyline. For more information, contact them at 973-268-3500.