Ted Stiles Preserve, NJ

For Amanda’s 33rd birthday we drove north yet again to Central Jersey for day of hiking, history, and agro-tourism.  Our first stop was the Ted Stiles Preserve at Bald Pate Mountain.

Who this guy they call Ted Stiles?

At first we arrived at the back entrance to this 1,800 acre preserve, a bit of driving and we found the proper entrance.  Once we regained our bearings and were out of the car we enjoyed a peaceful late winter hike.  Our trail took us through the woods to the dilapidated Kuser farm buildings their start in the early 1900’s.  The farmhouse was boarded up and looked structurally unstable, however the barn with its stout timber beams looked like it would tolerate some exploration.  Especially fascinating to me was the monstrous steel cable and pulley system of the barn elevator.

We continued our walk through the preserve to the top of Baldpate Mountain and the site of the main house, lodge and outbuildings of the Kuser estate.  In 1986, the property was sold to Trap Rock Industries to expand their nearby quarry.  When this business plan failed the land was transferred again this time for luxury housing development.  Through public pressure and a decade of work by Rutgers professor and conservationist Ted Stiles the land was finally acquired by the county.  Thank you for your work Professor Stiles, we enjoyed our visit.

Our next stop was to Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse for a farm tour and samples.  Proprietor Jon White and his wife, Nina, are passionate about local, sustainable, high quality ingredients to make high quality food.  They manage their own herd of naturally raised, grass-fed dairy cattle turning their milk into funky, artisanal cheese.  Nina bakes wood-fired breads using locally sourced heirloom grains.  The cheese and bread are incredible as expected, our favorites were Frolic and the Rosemary Epi.

We ended our night with wine at Villa Milagaro and some food at The Ship Inn.

ceramic tile grain silo
A ceramic tile grain silo at Villa Milagro Vineyards

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