Hilltop Reservation


The Hilltop Reservation is a nature preserve located on the Second Watchung Mountain in the host communities of Cedar Grove, North Caldwell and Verona. Various short trails are available that take you along the preserved ridgeline. As the Hilltop Conservancy works to restore wildlife habitat on former demolition sites, parts of the Reservation have now been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a "Wildlife Habitat."

This park contains a segment of the 36-mile Lenape Trail, a unique urban/suburban trail connecting 18 parks and 11 municipalities in Essex County. A guide to the trail, including comprehensive trail maps, has been written by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in close collaboration with the Essex County Essex County Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs and can be found here.

Historic Profile

Hilltop Reservation is a recent addition to the Park System.  It is composed of lands formerly included in the grounds of the Essex County Hospital Center. The land was designated a Conservation Easement in 2001, by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, permanently dedicating it for conservation and recreation purposes, and thereby protecting it from any future development.

In 2003, additional acreage was dedicated, bringing the Reservation’s total to 284.16 acres. This addition to the County’s official NJ Green Acres Recreation and Open Space Inventory brings the current total acreage of the Essex County Park System to 6010.52.

Portions of the land, particularly some smaller parcels which are not contiguous with the main area, will be dedicated to recreational use by the host communities.

Park Map