A Rich Day at Loantaka Brook Reservation

Loantaka Brook Reservation

Loantaka Brook Reservation

What a day! I recently went to Loantaka Brook Reservation in New Jersey.  A spectacular canopy of FALL LEAVES displayed themselves above as I began this walk.  Nature’s fireworks were ablaze, absolutely beautiful and never-ending that day. Truly awe-inspiring!

Loantaka Brook Reservation's walk and bike path.

Loantaka Brook Reservation’s walk and bike path.

New Jersey had already begun to experienced some cold weather prior to this day.  So, when Mother Nature sent us a gift of a few days of springlike weather, it was a present that was to be immediately enjoyed.  A picturesque warm autumn day after a cold spell is something we all can appreciate.  So, to make the most of this stroke of great weather, I headed out to the Loantaka Brook Reservation, spanning from Chatham Township to Morristown, New Jersey.

This beautiful nature preserve was magnificent with a dazzling kaleidoscope of autumn leaves. The picturesque setting on this sunny, unseasonably warm day in late October was, in a way, indescribable.  It is something that must be felt and experienced in the moment.  Beautiful, gorgeous, inspiring, pretty, enlightening, and even humbling come to mind as words to describe beautiful autumn days.  But, these words are simply too common and they really don’t capture the magnitude, spirituality, and grace of it all.  The never-ending tapestry of colors culminating with the scurrying of mid-autumn forest life lead to a very memorable and exhilarating hike.

The one word that came to my mind as a perfect description of this all-out expression of nature’s love was…WEALTH!  This day offered a very rich way to ignite all five of your senses and truly have a full human experience.

The woods of Loantaka Brook Reserve

The woods of Loantaka Brook Reservation.

Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch– The picture-perfect colors of the leaves turning were a soft welcoming sight right before your eyes. I could hear leaves crunching under my feet, small woodland animals scampering and the warning bell announcing the passing by of an occasional bicyclist.  The air was slightly perfumed by the already fallen leaves, adding a spiciness to the autumn air that you could not only smell but literally taste on your tongue from time to time. I felt the gentle breeze, which was neither too hot nor too cold, brushing against my face and hands as I trekked onward. Truly incredible!

Loantaka Brook Reserve's Autumn Foliage

Loantaka Brook Reservation’s Autumn Foliage.

Also taking full advantage of the outstanding weather were the forest animals. Hearing all the hustle and bustle from them was a reminder that, as nice a day as this was, winter is fast approaching.  

A squirrel taking a break from it's autumn routine.

A squirrel taking a break from it’s autumn routine.

Squirrels were out in full force scurrying around as they collected acorns and ran off to hoard them.  I even caught a quick glimpse of a fox as it ran from one old mushroom-covered tree stump to the next.  And, every so often birdsong filled the air as if to say goodbye before the birds migrate to warmer places.

All this bliss came to a screeching halt for a brief moment.  I heard a loud and startling rustling noise deep in the tall reeds a few feet away from the path where I was walking.  It became louder and louder as it came closer to me!  And, the movements became more thrashing and alarming.  Hearing something like this when you’re in the middle of the woods is a serious reality check.  It reminds you that you are only a visitor here.  This is home to many different animals; humans are really only observers here.  My mind spun up with fear!  What if this was a bear?  Or, even worse, what if it was a mother bear with her cubs, doing what bears do as they get ready for their long hibernation?  Yes, there are bears in New Jersey and, at times, they have been spotted in the towns around this reservation.  So, this was a very real possibility.  Just as my mind started to run wild with all the “what ifs” of this internal bear dialogue, two magnificent bucks leapt into the clearing, each with a majestic set of antlers.  A lone doe quickly dashed behind them.  Apparently they were having some WILD fun!   After all, it was an exceptionally nice day in those woods for them, too. Haha! They stood and looked my way for about 20 seconds. By the time I reached for my phone to take a photo, PRESTO,  they were gone, in the blink of an eye. What a spectacular sight to see up close and so unexpectedly!

Lonataka Brook Reserve

Loantaka Brook Reservation

As I walked further and further, it became impossible not to stop from time to time to touch a berry bush or take a photo of the magnificent foliage unfolding all around me. If ever there was a day this fall to collect your favorite color leaves and get in “touch” with autumn and all its glory, this was it.


Days like this should remind us that wealth is far more than money.  Wealth is being able to have a total human experience and be present, letting us know that we are alive.  We, humans, are all here to enjoy the natural beauty of this remarkable planet we call Earth, not just to work, make money and pay bills.  A break from that routine is of prime importance.  

A brook bridge

A bridge over a small brook.

The changing of seasons offers a perfect opportunity to take a break from the daily grind and have that human experience in the great outdoors.  Loantaka Brook Reservation offers a great opportunity to experience all your five senses in a stunning open-air classroom, full of rich knowledge from which we can all benefit.   And, here’s the real kicker- all this inspiration, motivation, and feelings of exhilaration are free of charge. It simply comes as part of your human inheritance, a wealth that we all possess and are blessed with.  Peace may not be easy to find in our daily lives, but there is a vast wealth of it in nature.  All you have to do is get out and go for a walk in the great outdoors. Who knows – you just might strike some riches of your very own.

Tip: Click here for more information on the Loantaka Brook Reserve.  This quaint oasis in northern New Jersey is only a 35-minute drive from New York City.