Day Trip to Summit, NJ Arboretums

Growing up in Northern NJ, I thought I knew a lot about my home state. There is so much this state has to offer that I have yet to discover. For 2020, I have made it my mission to find hidden gems in the Greater NYC area and share it with you all!

Summit New Jersey is in Northern NJ, but it is on the border of Central Jersey. Yes - for those of you who question or say there is just north and south Jersey. There is a very real difference between North, Central, and South Jersey.

Today I am sharing two amazing spots with you! Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Reeves-Reed Arboretum are the two arboretum options in Summit, New Jersey! Getting off of route NJ-24 you can turn right for one arboretum or left for the other.

Going in May 2020, this was still during the stay at home order, however, restrictions were lifted and you could go out to parks and resume outdoor activities. This was such exciting news! The order of deciding where to start was made easy because Reeves-Reed Arboretum had restricted hours to limit large gatherings.

My Mom joined me for the day and I was so glad we started at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum. It has interesting grounds. When it is fully operational, it seems like they have great resources for outdoor groups. More on that below.

Reeves-Red Arboretum was the highlight for me. Before jumping in, how do you even get there?

Coming from Northern NJ, here is how I got to Cora Hartshorn Arboretum:

  • Take Garden State Parkway South

  • Take exit 142B towards 1-78W

  • Take exit 48 for NJ-24 X towards I-287

  • Continue on NJ-24 W

  • Take exit 9B for Hobart Gap Road/Hobart Ave

  • Take Hobart Ave to Forest Drive

  • Arrive at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary, 324 Forest Dr S, Short Hills, NJ 07078

According to Google Maps, if you’re coming from South Jersey, here is how you get to Cora Hartshorn Arboretum:

  • Take Garden State Parkway North

  • Take exit 142 B towards 1-78W

  • Take exit 48 for NJ-24 X towards I-287

  • Continue on NJ-24 W

  • Take exit 9B for Hobart Gap Road/Hobart Ave

  • Take Hobart Ave to Forest Drive

  • Arrive at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary, 324 Forest Dr S, Short Hills, NJ 07078

Cora Hartshorn Arboretum

Pulling up, there are houses on one side of the street and the arboretum is on the other. Be mindful of parking since parking is only allowed on the one side for the arboretum. When you enter the grounds, there are beautiful flowers and trees at the entrance.

As I mentioned before, I went during the pandemic so the main building which is the arboretum wasn’t open. We made the best of the situation and ventured to the walking trail. The trails are easy to walk that all ages could do it here.

You'll see trails going to the back of the grounds, you'll follow this to the gated walking trails. The walking trails are about 3 miles long.

They do have spots, like this one when you first enter, to teach about the Lenape Indians. They did have a lot of signs for boy and girl scout gathering so this is totally something for elementary age or younger kids. This area below is a space where they teach about the Lenape. According to Google, the Lenape homeland included New Jersey.

Before English settlers came from Europe, the Lenape, which translates to “the people” lived in these lands. People are encouraged to walk the wooden trails to see and learn how the Lenape used the natural resources of the land, what was their food sources, and other things and the Lenape people.

This is great for small kids. If you have young kids or are a grandparent and need a day to get kids energy out but not difficult trails, try this spot! It seemed like the trails had areas where talks can be set up. Again, coming during not fully operational hours, there wasn’t anyone to talk to so I’m going with info from the internet.

It is buggy here so you’re in the woods, I strongly advise you to put on bug spray.

Leaving the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum, it is a 5 minute (1.4 miles) drive to Reeves-Reed Arboretum. You’ll return to the spot where you turned off of NJ-24 and keep straight. The Arboretum’s entrance is about 1 mile away from NJ-24. 

Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Coming from the direction of NJ-24, you’ll pass what looks like an entrance but it is the exit from the Arboretum, the entrance will be next on the left. The gate is automatic, it’s pretty quick! The way is one way. Be mindful of people while driving back! The area has a small parking lot, it can fill up quickly.

I was amazed by the beautiful gardens on the grounds. The photos on the site do not do it justice. They were even under construction to update the walkway, and it did not take away from the experience.

You’ll see some professional photographers come with the telescope lenses to take different photos of the flowers. Seeing that, I knew we were in a good place!

Some background to this location. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum mission is to bring the care of history and garden together. The arboretum is listed on both National and State Registers of Historic Places.

The historical gardens are broken up into different areas. The photos above is at the beginning pathway where you can get a map of the grounds. After leaving here, you look out to the different garden sections. It's honestly amazing how they broke up the first sections!

The first section we came to is the rose garden. There is a private garden area next to the house before the rose garden, but we followed the stones in the grass. After the rose garden, there is a herb garden! The smell of the two together was amazing!

Check the website before planning your trip to see what the grounds have in bloom and what you’ll be able to see. When we arrived there were some peonies at the end of their bloom! The staff is very kind and they do keep the website up to date with what is in bloom.

Another section of the gardens is called the Wildflower Bowl - which I'm looking out to from the back of the house. My visit was in May. At this time the wildflowers are not in bloom. I suggest walking to the houses back porch for pretty views of the grounds.

From here, you can walk a path that is in the back of the house that cuts through the middle of the Wildflow Field and be completely surrounded by wildflowers. The back porch and lawn have great upper views.

There were people with blankets on the grass, having a nice picnic. The website says you are allowed to have small picnics, people can gather 3-4 people. This is not a COVID rule, this is to keep the park clean. The idea, fewer people than less mess. As always, whatever you bring, you’re to carry out.

When looking at the map and planning how to explore the grounds, take it section by section. There are trails on the property, we walked a bit of it since it rounds the one side of the property, however, it was pretty buggy. Wear bug spray!

You don’t need to do the walking trail. You will come across different types of trees which some are marked to identify the tree, which I loved! It can be a great way to get kids involved by identifying the different trees or a game for them to have to find the different trees on the property.

One major reason why I loved this location so much, was a tree! For those of you who do not know, I went on a cross country trip to California to Sequoia National park to see Sequoia trees which were my dream. I still hope to return someday whether it’s a long trip or road trip, but I hope to return.

All that is to say - THERE’S A SEQUOIA TREE HERE! No joke! I was amazed and so happy. If you couldn’t tell by my face.

That only made this spot amazing to me.

Two Spots Wrap Up:

These two arboretums offer very different experiences and are within 5 minutes of each other. Coming from a 29-year-old, if you're in your 20's and 30's and looking for a day out with friends, go to Reeve-Reed. If you're looking for an easy walk but a small escape that isn't a hike, Cora Arboretum is a perfect option.

Let me know in the comments below if you've been to both or either of these locations! Also, tag me on Instagram to see your photos! I love seeing people out exploring.

If you want to make a weekend of the area, here are some cute places to stay:

Save this Pin to remember these amazing locations!

Facts of Attractions of Summit, New Jersey:

  • Trenton is the capital of New Jersey

  • Summit incorporated as a city in 1899

  • American currency is in American dollars and cents

  • The area is known for its climbing, art scene, and breweries

I hope you enjoy this Arboretum itinerary! Enjoy camping here and exploring what New Paltz and the Gunks have to offer. If you have any questions about the area please email me at 

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Copyright  © 2020 by Rebecca Noelle