Branch Brook Park

What are the park hours?

Open 365 days a year, the park welcomes visitors from dawn until 10 p.m. Admission to the park is always free.

Do any park activities require permits?

Most passive activities, i.e., strolling, jogging, cycling, bird watching, etc. do not require permits. Barbequing or open fires are not allowed in Branch Brook Park. Information regarding obtaining permits for use of playing fields for organized sports as well as other activities such as special events, filming and picnics can be found under Resources.

How large is the park?

The park's 360 acres include vast lawns, playing fields, winding paths, and miles of streams, pools and lakes. Its expanse stretches nearly four miles - from US Route 280 in Newark to Mill Street in Belleville, New Jersey - and averages one-quarter mile in width.

What are the park's salient features?

Each spring, more than 5,000 cherry trees produce a panoply of blossoms - celebrated annually in a festival attracting many thousands of visitors from home and abroad. In fact, the park has the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees in one location in the United States.

The landscape features an extraordinary system of water bodies: open lakes in the south; a sinuous flow through the middle; and, in the north, ponds and streams. 19 unique bridges traverse the park's miles of waterway. Branch Brook Park Lake covers 24 acres and is stocked with trout.

How old is the park?

Conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. in 1867, work on Branch Brook began in 1896. It was the first county park to be opened for public use in the United States. Today, it has been placed on both the New Jersey (1980) and National (1981) Registers of Historic Places.

Why is the park named "Branch Brook"?

The original parkland encompassed the shallow valley of the Branch Brook, a tributary of the Passaic River. At its southern edge, the brook emerged from the marshy floor of the valley to form a channel punctuated by ridges and falls, which in turn flowed into the First River. The Branch Brook formed the basis for the necklace of streams, ponds and lakes that now define the park.

What is there to see and do?

Visit historic sites such as the Prudential Lions, the Octagon Shelter and the park's unique bridges. Bike, walk or jog on miles of pathways. Skate at the roller rink, or play baseball, bocce, tennis or softball on new and improved fields and courts. Delight in each season's unique activities and special beauty.

What else is there to do when I visit the park?

The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, one of the largest Gothic-style churches in the country adjoins the park. A variety of dining experiences from fast food ethnic eateries to white linen restaurants can be found along Bloomfield Avenue that bisects the park between the Middle and Northern Divisions. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Newark Museum, the Newark Library and the Prudential Arena are minutes away in downtown Newark.

How do I get to the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center?

From South Jersey:

- Garden State Parkway North to exit 145
- Go east on Route 280 to First Street Exit (exit 13) on the left and stay to the left
- At traffic light at the end of the ramp, make a left onto First Street
- Pass through the first traffic light
- As you continue on First Street, the road will curve to the left and there are train tracks to your right
- Make a right at the second traffic light onto Park Avenue
- Make an immediate right into the park
- At the stop sign, make a left
- You will drive through the park, do not leave the park, follow the curves of the road
- To your left you will see a large meadow; at the end of the meadow you will see a split in the road, stay to the right
- Pass through Heller Parkway intersection
- Pass through Grafton Avenue intersection
- You will drive under a bridge
- Make a right into the first driveway you see, this is the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center parking lot

From North Jersey:

- Garden State Parkway South to exit 149
- Make a right at the end of the ramp onto JFK Parkway
- Go to the first light, make a right onto Belleville Avenue
- Proceed to the third light, make a right onto Franklin Avenue
- Turn left at the Mill Street intersection
- Turn right at the first stop sign
- The Cherry Blossom Welcome Center will be on your left, take the second driveway into the parking lot

Using Newark Light Rail:

- take the Branch Brook Park stop
- walk Left, under the overpass and away from the Tennis Courts
Click here for more information: NJ Transit Light Rail Map