Tourne County Park is a general purpose park comprised of 561 acres with 10.7 miles of trails. This park offers recreational opportunities throughout all seasons: hiking, fishing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding. There are reservable picnic sites and a shelter, and to complement your outing, you can reserve an athletic field. What makes this park so appealing is hikers who climb to the top of the Tourne are rewarded with a panoramic view of the New York City skyline. The highest elevation is 897 feet. Other points of interest include Denture Rock and Mouse Cradle Rock. You can also access the Rockaway River for canoeing and kayaking. Digital trail maps are available online.
The Park Commission acquired its first parcel of land on July 24, 1958 and opened the park for public enjoyment in 1960. The name ‘Tourne’ is derived from the Dutch word meaning ‘lookout’ or ‘mountain.’ The Tourne is the only remaining undeveloped fragment of the Great Boonton Tract. It was originally surveyed by John Chapman in May 1715. It is likely that the early surveying crew had cut bridle paths over the narrow footways made by earliest inhabitants of the nearby plantation, and current trails may follow those made more than 300 years ago by Native Americans.
The land was purchased by David Ogden, Colonial Attorney-General of New Jersey in 1759. McCaffrey Lane, the main entrance to the park, was designed in 1767 by Samuel Ogden. It was used to haul iron ore from Hibernia’s mines to Samuel Ogden’s ironworks in Old Boonton. Within this historic region, cannonballs were manufactured for use by the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
During his lifetime, Clarence Addington DeCamp (1859-1948) inherited and acquired much of the land now known as Tourne County Park. Using hand tools and levers, DeCamp built two roads to the top of the Tourne and encouraged people to enjoy the forests and fields. He became one of the first conservationists in Morris County.
One of the many interesting features of the landscape is the Mouse Cradle Balancing Rock. It is a glacial erratic, which rests on the southwestern summit of the Tourne and is balanced on two points of a ledge rock and a hidden wedge stone. This imposing 54-ton boulder was named by DeCamp in 1897, when he discovered a mouse nest in a cleft of the rock. He adjusted the boulder with jack screws so the rock could be tilted a few inches with a lever when a hidden wedge was removed.