DENVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – The Den Brook Trail in Denville has officially opened, offering visitors a one-mile rustic path that runs from Openaki Road in the state-recognized Ninkey Forge Historic District to a small neighborhood park owned by Denville Township on Mount Pleasant Turnpike.
The official opening was marked by a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the local park, which included Mayor Thomas Andes, Councilmembers Glenn Buie and Gary Boroweic, Denville Open Space/Trails Coordinator Jane Garvey, township trail Committee Members Sue Schmitt and Darlene Price, Township Administrator Steven Ward, Morris County Parks Planning and Development Coordinator Denise Chaplick and former Denville Councilwoman Stephanie Lyden, a founding member of the township trails committee.
Construction of the trail, largely funded by the Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program, began in late 2020.
“The Township of Denville has acquired over 1,300 acres of Open Space over the last 25 years and has always hoped to develop a trail system. Several years ago, the Path and Trail Committee working with our Open Space, Recreation and various other groups developed a Trails Master Plan,” Andes said.
One project in the master plan was the Den Brook project, which cost a total of $372,956. The Morris County trail program provided total of $315,876 to the township through two grants that allowed the trail to be built in two phases.
“Denville is very thankful to receive funding from Morris County in two consecutive years to complete the trail from Openaki to the Den Brook Playground on Mount Pleasant Turnpike. This picturesque, one mile gravel path along the Den Brook is a delightful stroll, with a perfect ending at a small playground for young children,” Andes said.
Morris County Commissioner Deborah Smith, a Denville resident and former Denville council president, took a stroll on the completed trail a few hours before the official ribbon cutting.
“This really is a beautiful trail, and I think people will be surprised at how peaceful it is here walking along the brook. This is exactly the type of accessible, neighborhood trail our Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program was designed to create, and we have found over the years that many different trails are connecting from town to town. This trail is very close to other open space areas,” Smith said.
The Openaki Trailhead of the Den Brook Trail is a short distance from the entrance to the Randolph Trail System entrance at the James Andrews Memorial County Park.
The Den Brook Trail is generally flat with a few easy rolling features. There are foot bridges located along the path where the ground becomes naturally saturated, and there are three spur trails that lead into adjacent residential neighborhoods.
Signs also have been placed along the path so visitors can learn about wetlands and the local flora and fauna. Furthermore, the trail passes by a picturesque, abandoned historic mill located in the middle of Den Brook.
The Morris County Board of County Commissioners has issued more than $4 million to build and enhance more than 23 miles of a growing network of local trails since 2016, after voters overwhelming approved dedicating a portion of the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund annually toward recreational trail development. Morris County made nearly $1.8 million in grants available in 2022 for recreational trails, and applications submitted by the July deadline are currently under review.
Trails became a source of refuge during the pandemic, with national trail and hiking organizations estimated usage grew by 200 percent nationwide since pre-pandemic years. The Morris County Park Commission, which has a separate county network of more than 253 miles of trails, reports three to four times as many visitors are making use of the park system’s pathways.