54. Tatum Park
Tatum Park is a small, but very impressive, forest preserve in the hilly
uplands of the Atlantic Highlands. The park covers 368 acres and is an
excellent place to go for a walk or a picnic, especially in the late spring
when everything is in bloom and the wild strawberries are ripe! The park
is host to forests dominated by chestnut and red oaks, and to a large
mature grove of tulip trees, perhaps the tallest to be found anywhere
on the coastal plain (Figure 131). The park has several large fields that
are plowed semi-annually to preserve field-type wildlife habitats. The
process of plowing in the hilltop areas, however, turns up an abundance
of ironstone conglomerate, an indication of the presence of underlying
Miocene-Pliocene alluvial sediments. These deposits unconformably overlie
Cretaceous sediments (Wenonah, Navesink, and Redbank Formations - the
Mount Laurel is missing here). These formations crop out along the lower
hillsides of Mahoras Brook, a small spring-fed stream that drains from
the park. Unfortunately, these Cretaceous formations are very poorly exposed
except for small patches of marl along the creek bed.
|Figure 131. A tulip tree grove in Tatum Park (Monmouth County, NJ)
has some of the tallest trees on the Coastal Plain; the hillsides
consist of weathered Late Cretaceous strata.
To get to Tatum County Park, take the Garden State Parkway to Exit 114.
Turn left (east) on Red Hill Road and drive about 1.5 miles A trailhead
parking area is on the left across from the Deep Cut Arboretum (see Figure
128). Be sure to take time to walk the trails through the tulip tree forest
and around the large fields. Keep an eye out for raptors that hunt for
rabbits and other rodents in the fields. Deer are abundant, and unfortunately,
so are deer ticks. The public formal gardens and beautiful grounds of
the Wihtol Mansion of Deep Cut Park are across the street.