County of Essex Essex Park Branch Brook Park Alliance Prudential

Park Information

Volunteers in Branch Brook Park

When are the park hours?
Open 365 days a year, the park welcomes visitors from dawn until 10 p.m. Admission to the park is always free. Click here for a complete list of park rules and regulations.

Do any park activities require permits?
Most passive activities, i.e., strolling, jogging, cycling, birdwatching, etc. do not require permits. Barbequeing or open fires are not allowed in Branch Brook Park. Information regarding obtaining permits for use of playing fields for organized sports as well as other activities such as special events, filming and picnics can be found by clicking here.

How large is the park?
The park's 360 acres include vast lawns, playing fields, winding paths, and miles of streams, pools and lakes. Its expanse stretches nearly four miles - from US Route 280 in Newark to Mill Street in Belleville, New Jersey - and averages one-quarter mile in width.

What are the park's salient features?
Each spring, more than 4,000 cherry trees produce a panoply of blossoms - celebrated annually in a festival attracting many thousands of visitors from home and abroad. In fact, the park has the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees in one location in the United States.

The landscape features an extraordinary system of water bodies: open lakes in the south; a sinuous flow through the middle; and, in the north, ponds and streams. Nineteen unique bridges traverse the park's miles of waterway. Branch Brook Park Lake covers 24 acres and is stocked with trout.

How old is the park?
Conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. in 1867, work on Branch Brook began in 1896. It was the first county park to be opened for public use in the United States. Today, it has been placed on both the New Jersey (1980) and National (1981) Registers of Historic Places.

Why is the park named "Branch Brook"?
The original parkland encompassed the shallow valley of the Branch Brook, a tributary of the Passaic River. At its southern edge, the brook emerged from the marshy floor of the valley to form a channel punctuated by ridges and falls, which in turn flowed into the First River. The Branch Brook formed the basis for the necklace of streams, ponds and lakes that now define the park.

What is there to see and do?
Visit historic sites such as the Prudential Lions, the Octagon Shelter and the park's unique bridges. Bike, walk or jog on miles of pathways. Skate at the roller rink, or play baseball, bocce, tennis or softball on new and improved fields and courts. Enjoy concerts, movies or dancing under the stars. Delight in each season's unique activities and special beauty.

What else is there to do when I visit the park?
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, one of the largest Gothic-style churches in the country adjoins the park. A variety of dining experiences from fast food ethnic eateries to white linen restaurants can be found along Bloomfield Avenue that bisects the park between the Middle and Northern Divisions. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Newark Museum, the Newark Library and the Prudential Arena are minutes away in downtown Newark.

One of Branch Brook Park's historic bridges