Park System History

Golden Moments | Then & Now | Favorite Parks, Programs & Memories | The 1960s | The 1970s | The 1980s | The 1990s | The 2000s 

50th Anniversary LogoCelebrating its 50th anniversary, the Park System began in 1960 when the Board of Chosen Freeholders acquired the first county park.  The Monmouth County Park System started humbly enough, using 24 acres of surplus land leftover from contruction of the Garden State Parkway to create Shark River Park, Neptune.  An immediate success, 5,971 visitors enjoyed the park’s open space and picnic areas when it opened in 1961.

Today, Shark River Park, now totaling 946 acres, is still popular. On any given day, shrieks of delight can be heard coming from children at the playground while hikers take in the wonders of nature along the trails. Picnickers enjoy the shelter building while a sports program is held in an open field. 

Thanks to the Park System, this scene can be found in locations throughout the county. Stretching over 14,500 acres, the Park System has 38 sites of parks, forests, gardens, wetland/marine habitats, golf courses, historic sites, recreation areas and conservation properties.  Each year approximately 4,000 recreation programs are offered through the Park System.

See How We've Grown!






  1960 - Monmouth County Freeholders assign matters pertaining to county park lands to the Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation

  1972 Howell Park Golf Course opens as the first Monmouth County owned & operated golf course.Howell Park Gof Course continues to be ranked in the top 50 public golf course in America by national golf publications.  1984 Monmouth County Park System begins operation of Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park beaches. In the late 1800's, this site was home to Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show.Presidents from Gran to Wilson summered in the area, hence the name. Today, this 38-acre park is the only county-operated beach in NJ and is a great place to sun, swim, surf or fish.  1990 Manasquan Reservoir Recreation Area opens and is an immediate hit with Monmouth County residents. This 1,200-acre site includes a 770-acre reservoir, a 5-mile perimeter trail, areas for fishing and boating, a Visitor Center, Environemntal Center and draws over 1 million visitors yearly.  2001 Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center opens. Visitors can explore wetland ecology and learn about wildlife protection through interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, wildlife observation areas and educational activities.

 1960 24 acres of land leftover from the construction of the Garden State Parkway becomes Shark River Park and opens in 1961. Today, there are more than 947 acres along either side of the Shark River in both Neptune and Wall Townships.

 1973 First 47 acres for Hartshorne Woods Park purchased. Additional acreage acquired in 1974, including the Highlands Army Air Defense Station from the US Army. Today, Hartshorne Woods Park consists of 787 acres overlooking the Navesink River and Sandy Hook Bay and is a popular park for hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts.   1985 381 acreas are purchased from the estate of Murray Rosenberg, the owner of Miles Shoe Stores. It was his country home and former dairy named Dorbrook Farm. Dorbrook Recreation Area has been developed with active recreation in mind. Today, this 535-acre site includes a 2.3 mile paved trail and there are basketball & tennis courts, an in-line rink and softball field. There is also an universally accessible playground for children of all abilities. There is also a Sprayground which operates seasonally.  1990 Charleston Springs Golf Course established. North Course opens in 1998; South Course opens 2002. Two courses offering 36 holes of championship-caliber golf.  2002 Sunnsyide Equestrian Center opens. This 135-acre site is home to the Park System's equestrian program and has a short, paved, multi-use trail.

 1962 Monmouth County receives first Green Acres Grant in the state to acquire 41 acres to become Holmdel Park. In 1963, the Duncan Farm is purchased and in1964 Holmdel Park opens. The site of the present day tennis courts was once home to the US Defense Department Nike Missle Battery 54 as part of the Cold War defenses for NY City. Sledding & skating begins winter 1967/1968. Historic Longstreet Farm opens in 1971.

 1974 Huber Woods Park opens after a gift of 118 acres of land from the Huber Family and the J. M. Huber Corporation.Along with the Huber Family Haus, today Huber Woods has grown to 357 permanently preserved acres of open space. The Huber Haus has been converted to the Huber Woods Environmental Center which offers nature and environmental awareness programs.     1991 Friends of the Parks established. This not-for-profit charitable organization consists of citizens and businesses committed to supporting the Monmuth County Park System. Membership has grown over the years to over 550 members and fundraising efforts have raised over $2.5 million dollars. 2005 9-11 Memorial dedicated at Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook. The 9/11 Memorial features a timeline walkway recollecting the day's events; a stone base with the names of the 147 Monmouth County residents who lost thier lives and an eagle sculpture clutching a beam from one of the towers.

  1966 Turkey Swamp Park opens. This 2,048 acre park is designed for campers with 64 campsites, 6 groups campsites and 3 reservable group picnic shelters. Facilities also include a fishing lake with canoe, rowboat and paddleboat rentals.It is the largets county-owned park.

 1975  East Freehold Showgrounds hosts the Monmouth County Fair for the first time. Conducted annually every July, the Monmouth County Fair continues a tradition that dates back to the 1800's.  1985 Historic Walnford at Crosswicks Creek Greenway established. After undergoing restoration, this 36-acre site opens to public in 1997. Site features a working gristmill, 18th century industrial village with estate home and out buildings.  1992 Henry Hudson Trail opens. This paved, 10-foot wide, 22-mile trail is a former railroad. The 10-mile North section travels from Atlantic Highlands to Aberdeen. The 12-mile South Section travels from Aberdeen to Freehold.  2007 Perrineville Lake Park opens. While most county parks take decades to expand, this one developed rapidly during the early 2000s. The first two parcels (just over 90 acres) were purchased in 1999 and just ten years later by 2009, the property reached 912 acres.  In terms of size, Perrineville is now one of the largest county parks.
 1968 -  Geraldine L. Thompson bequesths her 19th century horse estate

 1977 Marjorie Wihtol bequeaths her home and 20 acres which opens in 1978 as Deep Cut Gardens. Now at 54 acres, Deep Cut Gardens is an horticulural park dedicated to the home gardener. Deep Cut Gardens is a living catalog of native and cultivated plant species to be observed throughout the seasons.

 1986 Bayshore Waterfront Park acquired. This 227 acre scenic park is home to a 300-foot fishing pier, scenic views of New York City and the restored, historic Seabrook-Wilson House, now an Activity Center. The park is located on the beaches of Port Monmouth and sits adjacent to the Monmouth Cove Marina.

1994 Monmouth County Park System becomes one of only 89 agencies in the nation and the only New Jersey agency to receive accreditation from the Commisssion for Accreditation of Park & Recreation Agencies. 

In 2010, Monmouth County Park  System celebrates 50 years of serving residents of Monmouth County