Trailside Nature and Science Center – Union County

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by

This is not a sponsored post.

Do you know Trailside?


High up in the hills of the Watchung Reservation is a Union County hidden treasure! The Trailside Nature and Science Center is a popular destination for school field trips and scout programs, but you don’t need to be in a group to experience all that Trailside has to offer.


Trailside Nature & Science Center is Union County’s Environmental Education Center, located in the Watchung Reservation, a 2,065-acre preserve containing woodlands, fields, lakes, streams and more than 13 miles of hiking trails.


This past winter I rediscovered Trailside by taking my son for some of Trailside’s weekly classes. I hadn’t been to Trailside since elementary school field trips and was very impressed with the facility and the quality of the classes. My son learned about skunks, hunted for dinosaur bones, and watched a turtle race. On a recent Saturday our whole family visited Trailside so we could all spend some time exploring the facility.


Inside the newly renovated and bright building, you will first see a huge tree reaching from top to bottom. Go in further and you’ll find live animals, educational displays, a night theater, teepee, and more! Dig for fossils downstairs, look at glowing fluorescent rocks, see a huge tree trunk and learn about Union County’s dinosaur. Keep your eyes open by the bird observation windows, you never know what kind of bird will be stopping by to grab a snack.


Trailside is currently in its Spring programming, and you can find plenty of weekend programs for families free, or at a small cost. There’s also a free story time every Saturday and Sunday at 3. Summer brings the popular camp series, but also a weekly “matinee” that will bring magic shows, animal shows, and more! If night time is your thing, check out their dusk hikes, or star parties/astronomy day.


Dress for the weather and explore some of the trails or the nearby playground, The Loop. You won’t be disappointed with a day out at Trailside!


Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Open daily from 12-5 PM.  Admission is free but donations are welcome.  Classes and special programs are at an additional cost. 908-789-3670.


See more Trailside photos in our Facebook Gallery.

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