A great way to get the little ones out and exploring nature, the Fairy Trail is an easy half mile path inhabited by fairies who have built homes along the trail. The rules help to introduce kids to the principles of Leave No Trace.
- Fairy Trail website (South Mountain Conservancy)
- Facebook page
- NY Times article
- Readers’ Digest article
- NJ.com article
Hike Length: 1.2 miles round trip, or turn around whenever the little ones get tired. Most of the fairy houses are located closer to the start of the trail and there are fewer as you go along.
Elevation Gain: minimal
Location: South Mountain Reservation, Millburn, Essex County, NJ
Fairy Trail Parking
Park at the Locust Grove parking lot in Millburn (across from the Millburn Library). Use 197 Glen Ave, Millburn, NJ in your GPS.
Fairy Trail Map
- Lenape Trail South Mountain (South) – Map is designed for the Lenape Trail, but it does show the Fairy Trail and Locust Grove parking area.
- Essex County provides a black and white online map which is very hard to read.
- South Mountain Conservancy sells a great color, waterproof map ($7) and trail guide ($15).
- South Mountain Reserve Interactive Map (Android App only) – $4.99
Fairy Trail Description
The Fairy Trail follows a 0.6 mile section of the white-blazed Rahway Trail in the South Mountain Reservation. From the Locust Grove Parking lot, look for the sign for the Rahway Trail (and a sign about the Fairy Trail).
Over the last several years, small “fairy houses” have been secretly popping up along a half-mile stretch of the white-blazed Rahway Trail starting at the Locust Grove picnic area in the Reservation. These are mostly the work of a local artist and founder of the Fairy Trail, Therese Ojibway. – South Mountain Conservancy
From the Rahway Trail description in the Trail Guide to the South Mountain Reservation:
From the southern trailhead at Locust Grove parking lot and for about a half-mile, almost to Campbell’s Pond, a number of fairy houses have been placed along the (Rahway) trail. The original architect of these houses was Therese Ojibway, a resident of Millburn. For several years, to coax her son out of doors, she created houses with miniature rooms and stairways filled with small replicas of furniture and beds. Some of the houses had two or three stories, with stairs climbing up the rotting logs in which they were located. Made completely from natural materials, the houses blended in with their surroundings and took a little searching to discover, drawing young children into the adventure of finding them.
The Fairy Trail was catapulted to fame by a July 2016 article in the New York Times. This was followed by numerous other articles in local and national publications, including Readers’ Digest. Unfortunately, with increased publicity, others have joined in, sometimes with less imagination and creativity than Ms. Ojibway, often using plastic dollhouse furniture and garish bright paint, neither of which blends in with the natural surroundings. Publicity has also led to the harming of the structures and the environment, due to children running off trail and mistreating the houses.
To encourage respect for the environment and the structures, a sign with the rules of the Rahway Fairy Trail was placed at Locust Grove in 2017 by the conservancy and Essex County Parks with Ms. Ojibway’s input (she still maintains the trail). The rules, which are also posted at www.somocon.org, encourage caring for the structures and recommended houses be built in one’s own backyard using natural materials.