Vacations and day trips might be different this fall season, but that does not mean there aren’t some exciting places to explore in North Jersey. One local spot brings a touch of magic to the beauty of nature… South Mountain Reservation’s “Fairy Trail.”
In what feels like it’s out of a storybook, a section of the reservation’s Rahway Trail is inhabited by fairies. Along the path, spanning half a mile, lay delicate “fairy houses.” Found in tree hollows and roots, these magical, miniature homes are made from branches, stones and dried fungi. People of all ages have marveled for years over these special additions that have transformed the path into a hidden gem.
About ten years ago, the fairy houses began popping up on the South Mountain Reservation’s trail. Therese Ojibway, a local artist, created the “Fairy Trail” after walking the trail became a favorite activity for her and her autistic son. After noticing the interesting root formations and hollows, they began to add “fairy things” and ended up integrating fairy houses into the environment. Tiny chairs, tables and swings all become part of the trail, creating a wondrous world for fairies and humans alike.
Says Ojibway, “The Fairy Trail is great for kids to get outside and away from electronics, especially during COVID-19. Going for a walk in the woods is a great way to get together safely with friends. The Fairy Trail provides a good introduction to hiking because children are so motivated to explore the woods to find fairy houses. They get to see lots of plants and animals, as they experience the magic of discovering where the fairies live. I prefer not to have people leave fairy figures, because it’s important for children to use their imaginations.”
Today, the Fairy Trail is still maintained by Ojibway, who volunteers with South Mountain Reservation to preserve the natural environment. In order to keep the trail a sustainable place where families can explore the outdoors, they have a “Leave No Trace” policy wherein visitors leave the environment as they find it. They are also working on implementing other ways to educate visitors about walking on the trail, so they can continue to enjoy its magic.
Ojibway notes that having so many people visit has an impact on the environment. Plans are underway for restoration and improvements along the trail.
“It is overwhelming to see how the trail has taken off since its creations,” says Ojibway. “It can be time consuming to maintain, but it’s worth every minute.”
To find the Fairy Trail, enter Locust Grove Parking or enter 197 Glen Ave., Millburn into your GPS. The Trailhead starts to the left of the parking area along the Rahway Trail. You will see a large Fairy Trail Welcome sign at this point. Remember to stay on the path, where you can see the fairy houses and protect the vegetation!