Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Unofficially, the Best Unofficial Dog Park

Posted by The Jill Smith Team at 11:59 AM

If you have dogs and live in the area then you likely know that Short Hills is home to the best “unofficial” dog park. Off of Old Short Hills Road is, conveniently named, Old Short Hills Park. This beautiful park is a bucolic setting for picnics, kite flying, playing catch or reading a book. Adjacent to the park is Greenwood Gardens, a 28-acre public garden listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But to those of us with dogs, the true gem of this park is the access afforded to the South Mountain Reservation, a utopia for canines to run happily off leash over two large tree lined fields and miles of wooded trails.

Old Short Hills Park, the manicured field at the front (pictured above), does not allow dogs on or off leash as it is home to grade school soccer practice. To access the dog-friendly section, park on the gravel area up in the back beyond the paved parking lot (don’t block the dirt road though, maintenance crews need access). Walk down the dirt road to the first of the two fields (pictured below). From here, you can do a lap around the two fields divided by several rows of pine trees or follow the main trail into the woods where you can take any number of smaller trails.

Although, not officially organized as a dog park, for decades area residents have enjoyed the reservation for long walks with their canine companions in a serene setting far from roads. The regulars certainly don’t want to lose the privilege of enjoying this area with their dogs so if you are new to the park please only bring friendly, well behaved dogs that are good off leash. You can keep your dog on a leash but please understand this is a haven for those who want their dogs to be exercised off leash so if you are uncomfortable with other dogs running up to you, you may want to try another park. It is also requested that you pick-up after your dog though unfortunately there is only one garbage can and it is located in the parking area.

So, bring your dog, enjoy the park and meet local pet owners at this fabulous community offering…and don’t forget the Frontline!

Area Dog Friendly Links:

If you prefer a traditional fenced-in dog park you can try the South Mountain Reservation dog park located in South Orange. For more information click here.

A very pleasant on-leash place to walk is Loantaka Brook Park in Chatham Township. View the park’s website here.

If you are considering adopting a dog please visit the Jersey Animal Coalition in Maplewood. You can also find dogs for adoption in your area at

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