Berry Picking in Local Parks

Berry Picking in Local Parks

Most Woodland Hiking Trails in Central NJ
Includes Baldpate Mountain, Fiddlers Creek Road, Titusville, NJ
Season usually peaks in early to mid July
(609) 989-6559  

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Special notes for parents
You can simply walk along the path, stopping to pick berries and eating them on the spot, OR you can make it the focus of the outing and bring containers with you. A quart, wide-mouth Nalgene bottle works well and will take most of the day to fill, even if you’re diligent. Note the warnings in the main text about wearing long pants. The brush is thick and prickly.
The result of an hours’ work at the peak of the Wineberry season.

Berries from Heaven

Ripening raspberries next to a Baldpate trail. The one on the lower left is ready to pluck (and was).

Every July, usually a week or two after the 4th, the “wineberries” (wild raspberries) start to ripen in open shade along the wooded slopes of local mountains.  Baldpate Mountain and the Sourland preserve are two such areas.  The wineberries are actually an exotic species, originally from Asia, but now growing wild across much of eastern US.  When ripe, the berries make fantastic eating.

A week or two after the wineberries are at their peak, the wild blackberries come into their own.  While wineberries do best in open shade, blackberries prefer full sun.  A prime location for these bushes is the gas pipeline right of way that cuts through the center of Somerset County’s Sourland Mountain Preserve.  Once you’re on the summit ridge, you’ll pass bush after bush right along the path: many more if you’re willing to push your way into the thick brush.

If you do that (to harvest either blackberries or wineberries), keep in mind that 1) these bushes are prickly… nothing like a rose bush, mind you, but something unpleasant against bare skin, 2) there’s poison ivy in those places, mixed among the bushes and other brush, and 3) the odds of picking up a tick go up enormously plowing through brush compared to walking on a wide path.  So wear long pants and sleeves, wash your hands and any exposed skin with Tecnu or other anti-poison-ivy soap within a couple of hours, and strip down, shower, and check yourself for ticks as soon as you can.

One of the first blackberries of the season on Sourlands Mountain…

I’m not necessarily suggesting you need to go for a big harvest.  My wife and I love hiking this time of year, just scanning the sides of the trail for ruby-red raspberries.  In the course of an hour or so, we might pick 20 or 30 little morsels one by one.  They are bursting with so much flavor they put commercial raspberries to shame.  As the season goes on, you need to explore ever more obscure trails to find a good supply, but that’s part of the fun anyway.

The “season” usually lasts a few weeks, depending on elevation, and especially the pattern of sun and shade on any given bush.  The sunnier spots ripen first, the shadier spots later.  It’s a lot of fun, and the supply of ripe berries keeps renewing itself for while.

3 Responses

  1. Don C.
    | Reply

    Wow – thanks for the tip. You are so right about two things: 1. Baldpate Mountain is an amazing place. A real undiscovered gem. I had no idea it was there. Actually, I knew it was there, but I had no idea it was such an extensive property with a huge network of hiking trails. Finally, there is a place to go for REAL hiking within an easy drive of Trenton.

    2. The raspberries were awesome. Sweet, perfectly ripe, plentiful, easy. Just reach your hand out while walking on the white ridge trail in spots and pick a berry as you go by. Looking forward to blackberries in a couple of weeks, and exploring more trails in this park. How did something this large stay hidden for so long?

  2. Patrica Hagerthey
    | Reply

    There use to he a big bush in Washington crossing I miss that

  3. Mary Rigby
    | Reply

    Does anyone know of a wild raspberry patch in Hamilton, NJ?

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