Nature in the City: A Fall Foliage Walk Through Liberty State Park

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The buildings of downtown Jersey City (left) and lower Manhattan (right) can be spotted from near the park office and picnic area. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

Residents of Jersey City, Hoboken, and other nearby towns often ask in Facebook groups where they should go for a hike or nature walk. Some suggest Palisades Park or Hacklebarney, but there are easily accessible options that aren’t so far away, including Liberty State Park in Jersey City, which offers nature walks, history talks, and new activities for adults and children for each season.

The park has free parking but also can be reached by walking or biking over a footbridge downtown (a bridge for cars has been promised for 2021), or by taking the light rail to the Liberty State Park light rail stop and walking back to park facilities.


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Sara the naturalist begins the walk. While some parts of the Northeast experience peak foliage early in October, New Jersey has been peaking toward the end of the month. But a rainstorm at the end of the month blew some leaves off the trees. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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The northern red oak is the state tree. The carotenoids in it create shades of orange and yellow after the amount of chlorophyll (to turn it green) decreases in autumn. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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Northern red oak. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

The park was dedicated in 1976. Efforts to create the park began in 1957 when Jersey City businessman Morris Pesin took his family to visit the Statue of Liberty and realized the only way was a long trip through New York. Jersey City gave 156 acres to the state for the park in 1965. The historic former CRRNJ Terminal was added after a cleanup. The park contains privately run facilities such as Liberty Science Center, the Liberty Landing Marina, and the Liberty House Restaurant. Ferries run to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

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Phragmites are found in temperate and tropical wetlands. But one of those shapes is not a phragmite – it’s the Statue of Liberty. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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This is poison ivy – yellow and (more commonly) red this time of year. You can identify it by the three leaves and the fuzzy-looking vines. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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You’re going to need an ocean of calamine lotion if you touch this. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

Upcoming activities at the park include a bird walk, an architecture talk about the CRRNJ Terminal, volunteer events, and a New Year’s Day walk that’s always popular.


On Saturday, November 2, the park ran a fall foliage walk to help residents identify the various leaves changing color in their yards and parks. It drew all ages, from children to seniors to a young man who rode his bike from downtown Jersey City. Sara, the naturalist, identified red oaks (the state tree), cedar, various types of pines, mulberry, American holly, fox grapevines, and (beware!) lots of poison ivy.

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Did you know squirrels live in nests made of leaves? This is a squirrel’s nest. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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This is most definitely not a squirrel’s nest – it’s a hive. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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Boughs of American holly. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

Here are some scenes from Saturday’s walk. To find out more about upcoming nature activities, click here.

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A heron. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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A maple leaf, used in a child’s leaf-rubbing activity at the end of the walk. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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Liberty State Park holds activities for each season. This year started with a New Year’s Day walk that took attendees to Caven Point Beach. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.
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A trail to Caven Point beach through Liberty State Park. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

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