Home Hudson County 10 Ways to Enjoy Nature in Hoboken + Jersey City

10 Ways to Enjoy Nature in Hoboken + Jersey City

by Sarah Griesbach
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All the evidence says that we need more nature. And it goes both ways. Nature needs us too. Despite the incredible density of Hoboken and Jersey City, opportunities abound to connect to our local ecologies in free, fun, and mutually supportive ways. Read on to learn where to dig, plant, splash, paddle, learn, and play within our natural home here in Hoboken + Jersey City.

nature activities

Engaging with our regional ecosystems can make what was once just the background of our lives into places of deep connection. These programs aren’t just great ways to spend time outdoors. There are great psychological benefits to building relationships with community members through dedicated work and learning. And studies reveal countless health benefits of getting immersed in local nature.

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The only impediment to getting in there and becoming aware of and likely enamored by our local ecology is the effort to show up. Any equipment that might be needed is typically provided by the organizers. Dressing the part is essential, but nothing new needs to be purchased. None of these activities require prior experience, and most are free.

Bike the Waterfront + Your Neighborhood

Liberty State Park and the Hudson River waterfront are the most popular places for biking locally. However, every street is a bike path when cyclists unite. Bike JC is a citizen-based advocacy organization that aims to make Jersey City streets safe and welcoming for bicyclists, by promoting traffic law enforcement, bicycle lane creation, additional bicycle rack placement, education, and group rides. The organization’s ward tour fundraisers are beloved for the two-wheeled camaraderie and the great experience of seeing the city in a whole new way.

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Read More: Where to Go Hiking Near Hoboken + Jersey City

Birdwatching

red tailed hawk

Zap Fitness

Photo Credit: Patricia Hilliard

Our wetland park areas provide views to the eagle-eyed of the little bouncy Marsh Wren, the wild walking Snowy Egret, and for the very lucky, the maroon and emerald Glossy Ibis. Join the Jersey City chapter of the Feminist Bird Club or Jersey City Birds to build community with each other and the wild birds that live in area parks. These groups are welcoming to newcomers with members eager to help participants identify the flying dinosaur descendants that they spot and to provide instructions on how to collect data for citizen science projects.

Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse

hoboken cove boathouse

This non-profit hosts New Jersey’s largest free paddling program. Everyone is welcome — even dogs — to try kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and outrigger canoeing in the protected cove. There is no minimum age. Children should bring a grownup with them and those under 16 will paddle in a double kayak with theirs. No reservation is required for the protective cove paddles, just show up. Basic swim skills are a must along with clothes that can get wet. Paddlers check in at the front desk, put on a life jacket, head to the beach for a short lesson, and start paddling. A set of quick-drying clothes can go into the small boathouse lockers for afterward. The two-mile, one to two-hour-long River Trips require reservations and are reputed to be a workout. Those are for adults only. 

This is the organization’s  20th year of river adventure organization The programs are entirely run by volunteers, opening up another avenue of involvement.

Hudson County Chapter of the Native Plants Society NJ

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Join up with this group to get your hands dirty in pollinator gardens all over JC and Hoboken parks — including Lincoln Park West, Canco Park, Riverview, and Pershing Field. New Jersey’s native plants include showstoppers of all colors that bloom from early spring into the start of winter. The group brings wildflowers, plants, and trees to our neighborhoods that support local wildlife with native plants that require less fertilizer and water to maintain than traditional lawns and ornamental plantings. The native plant gardens help filter pollutants in our air and water and naturally sequester carbon. They are also incredible at absorbing excess rainfall during storms.

The Liberty State Park Gardening Crew

Apartment dwellers without a yard can learn gardening skills and help support bees, butterflies, and birds in New Jersey’s most visited state park. Gardens range from flower beds filled with plants and flowers chosen to attract pollinators to tidy semiformal beds of annual daffodil and lily bulbs that reward the volunteers with their brilliant spring shows. Participants learn to weed invasive species, prune, mulch, and plant while enjoying iconic views of Liberty State Park. Volunteers can be any age, though children under 16 should bring a grownup with them. The group meets every Saturday from 9AM-12PM. Group volunteering projects can be organized during the week. For information and to sign up, call or email Maria, LSP head gardener: 201-915-3418, rosemarie.Cuillerier.dep.nj.gov.

 


 

Liberty State Park Kayak Eco-Tours

This is the only activity with an admission fee that made our list and it’s definitely worth the $20. These tours highlight the local wildlife and habitats of Caven Point. Begins with a brief safety and paddle instruction. Anyone 16 or older is welcome to explore the beautiful Hudson River Estuary by kayak and no prior paddling experience is required. Life Jackets (PFDs) are provided for the two-hour tours that leave at 10AM on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June until September. Tours embark from the boat launch located at the south side of Liberty State Park near the Park Office.

Neighborhood Beautification

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Helping to build a more beautiful, sustainable, resilient, and green Hudson County is exponentially rewarding. Neighborhood associations throughout Hoboken and Jersey City regularly organize work days to pick up trash, but also to plant the trees and plants that make a block healthy and lovely. JCleans in Jersey City and the Hoboken municipal Green Team and Shade Tree Commission are just a few of the larger organizations inviting residents to bring nature into the streets where we live.

At least two dozen locations in Hoboken and Jersey City provide opportunities for local residents to garden with and in the community. Uniquely special locations — like the Historic Jersey City + Harismus Cemetary and Holland Tunnel Garden in Jersey City — which serve as monarch waystations are a product of many hands. Community members can help plant edible gardens at many local spots, including the Ogden’s End Community Garden, the Can You Diiiggg It Community Garden on Garfield, and the Community Uplifting Project Community Garden at the corner of Harrison and Communipaw Avenues. Consider yourself forewarned that the rewards of participation in these local garden projects are exponential and can possibly lead to obsession.

River Cleanup

marshes wetlands hackensack river

The Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse organizes Planet Patrol volunteers every week throughout the summer season to collect and remove pounds of trash to keep the shoreline free of flotsam. It’s more fun than it sounds — the group works from kayaks and occasionally finds odd treasures amidst the floating plastic cups and debris. The Caven Point shoreline cleanups in Liberty State Park go on year-round and the Hackensack River waterfront in Jersey City can be revealed as a storied battle for environmental restoration while on an eco-cruise with the Hackensack Riverkeepers.

See More: This Natural Pool in Ringwood Is Worth a Summer Day Trip

Skyway Park in Jersey City

Play ‘Spot That Native Plant’ while exploring Skyway Park in Jersey City. The newest and largest municipal park in the area at 32 acres, is located along the shore of the Hackensack River. Once one of America’s most notorious urban toxic dumps, the remediated site was purchased by Jersey City In 2012. Today, after years of advocacy on the part of the Skyway Park Conservancy, the park is a success story for wetland and habitat restoration. A trail system is coming soon, but in the meantime, visitors can enjoy sweeping views of important pollinator plants like black-eyed Susan, purple vetch, white sweet clover, goldenrod, wild carrot, shepherd’s purse, and peppergrass.

Walk the Morris Canal Greenway

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The Morris Canal operated between 1831 and 1924 as a conduit for industry. It stretched over 100 miles across New Jersey to connect the coalfields of northeastern Pennsylvania with northern New Jersey’s iron industry. It is possible that the canal served as a route on the Underground Railroad. Today, efforts are underway to turn this remnant of our industrial past into a bike, running, and walking path. In Jersey City, a 2.6-mile urban greenway runs from Morris Square Park to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, near the Colgate Clock. Most of the greenway runs alongside the Big Basin of the old Morris Canal, then through Morris Canal Peninsula Park to the Little Basin.

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