This isn’t a photo of a lake or pond, but a pool. If you look closely, you can see the edging of the pool. This isn’t a pool in California or Vermont but somewhere close by….. New Jersey. That means that this discreet jem is relatively close for Brooklynites which makes it a fabulous day excursion.
Highlands Natural Pool wows me every time. This Olympic size, freshwater pool has a history dating back all the way to 1935, when it was carved out of the hillside. The water is deep and cool and comes right from the stream.
Coming from the South, I especially appreciate the warm welcome you get from every person at the pool- most of whom are annual members.
The pool can be deep (it slopes from 5- 10 feet) and the shallow section increases to 4 feet. There is a fenced-in wading area for babies that is relaxing for parents to watch their children. All kids who want to swim in the deep section of the pool must pass a swimming test first.
What you can do there:
There’s a simple playground too to get those climbing, sliding needs out.
And some fun rocking horses and a sandbox.
You just might catch an arts and crafts activity too- which vary from planting in their gardens to making animals out of clay.
There are nice picnic tables in a shady area and a bbq area which is really lovely and perfect for a hearty appetite after a big swim. There is a snack bar at the pool for chips, soda, water, Amy’s Burritos and Hot Pockets. It can be slightly buggy by the bbq area so bring insect repellent. We love the view from the picnic tables: you can see a large meadow. See photo below.
Since you will need to change into suits and use the bathroom, don’t worry: the restrooms are immaculate. However, there aren’t showers, so plan to wash off when you get home.
You will see wildlife just sitting there. A 7 year old boy came triumphantly out of the water with an intact skin of a small 12″ snake. Hawks lazily circle high over head. The newts and tadpoles grow along the sides of the pool but never get in your way when swimming. This is nature/human interaction at its finest. This last visit we saw at least 5 deer hanging out eating along Snake Den Road.
If you interested in doing some recreational sports- head to the nearby field that has a baseball backstop, volleyball court, ping-pong tables, board games and over 21 miles of hiking trails in the forest.
The freshwater pool isn’t the only interest point when you visit Ringwood, New Jersey. Adjacent to the pool is the Norvin Green State Forest which has over 4,000 acres of sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. There are extensive trails and hikes in the forest for short walks to nice 1,300 foot climbs.
Across from the pool is N.J. Audbon’s Weis Ecology Center where you can relax in the butterfly garden, hike on the property or even camp in tents or cabins.
Highlands Natural Pool is funded by membership fees – but you are allowed a provisional membership for a day visit which allows you to enjoy 3 swims before you are required to join as a full member.
Provisional Membership fee of $10 per adult and $3 per child for a day at the Pool.
To bring a group of 20 or more or other membership information, call the Pool at 973-835-4299.
How to get there:
The drive is realistically 1.5hr from Park Slope. And worth every minute. When we arrived, the parking lot looked full but once we got to the pool there were no more than 10 people in and around it.
Full directions are here.
Saturday May 26th through Sunday June 17th
Open week-ends only, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Summer Season Schedule
Saturday, June 23rd through Labor Day, September 3rd
Open week-ends, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Monday, June 24th through Friday, August 31st
Open week-days, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday September 8th through Sunday September 30th.
Open week-ends only, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Highlands Natural Pool
180 Snake Den Road
Ringwood, NJ 07456
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********Julia Wright is a Professional Organizer and Partner with Genius Organizing, Inc. based in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Genius Organizing provides non-judgmental, hands on home and office organization. Julia is a self proclaimed adventure seeker, world traveler and connector of people.