NE New Jersey Somerset Co Duke Farms
History | Rehabilitation | Visiting | Map | Hiking Itineraries

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       Address:  1112 Dukes Parkway West, Hillsborough, NJ 08844. 
         Hours: Thursday to Tuesday 8:30am - 6:00pm. Closed Wednesdays
         Phone: (908) 722-3700  Orientation Center 4
Parking Updates: Twitter @DFParking
Farm Barn Cafe: 11:00 am to 2:30 pm.
   Farm Access: Tram Service Apr 1 - Dec 1 every 15 min on weekends, every 30 min on weekdays
                From the Orientation Center, visitors can access more than
                18 miles of walking trails, or 12 miles of bicycle trails.
     Bikeshare: Free bikes (60 of them) 8:30 - 5:00
           Bikes are usually gone by 9:30 on weekends depending on weather.
           You can bring your own bike.
         Video: A 10 min video on the history and evolution of Duke Farms shows every 15 min
    Geocaching:  11 Geocaches on the property
    See Orientation Center
Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey, was developed by tobacco and hydropower magnate James Buchanan Duke beginning in 1893.

By the time he died in 1925, J.B. Duke had transformed more than 2,000 acres of farmland and woodlots into an extraordinary landscape. He excavated 9 lakes, constructed some 45 buildings, and built nearly 2 1/2 miles of stone walls and more than 18 miles of roadway. He also installed approximately 35 fountains and populated his park with countless pieces of sculpture.
Additional land was purchased in 1969 and later bringing the total to 2,700 acres.

James Greenleaf, who worked in Frederick Law Olmsted's firm, was the first landscape architect.

J.B. Duke sought the finest craftsmen to make statuary for his estate. Duke commissioned bronze, marble and stone reproductions in the first decade of the 20th century, mostly from French and Italian firms that specialized in casting Classical and Renaissance-style reproductions for museums and private collectors.

Doris Duke was a lifelong environmentalist with a keen interest in conservation. When she died in October 1993 at the age of 80, Doris Duke left the majority of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and expressed her wish that Duke Farms be used to drive positive change on a number of key issues regarding the stewardship of the natural environment.

The Lake System:
One million gallons of water per day were pumped from the canal above the Raritan River up to Duke Reservoir, where it would then be controllably released to flow by gravity through the seven-lake system and back into the Raritan River--cleaner than when it was initially removed. This system was used to supply potable water, a fire suppression system, irrigation and the fountains.
In 2013 this was being replaced by wells and a closed loop system allowing the dam on the Raritan River to be removed.
See also:
Officials hope dam removal saves energy | Hydropower

See: Duke Farms - History

Betweeen 2008 and 2010 Duke Farms will transform into an environmental showcase and learning center, with bold new programs and greatly expanded public access.

For the first time since Buck Duke closed the park at Duke Farms nearly 100 years ago, hundreds of acres of trails will be open for visitors to walk, bike and hike on their own.

With a $45 million face-lift that includes a fence to keep out the deer that had overrun the property, Duke Farms has become a haven for wildlife, including 30 endangered species and 230 varieties of birds, the bald eagle and the great blue heron among them. It will offer plots of land for what foundation officials say will be the biggest community garden in the country, as well as 250 acres of incubation space for aspiring organic farmers. In the greenhouses where Duke once recreated international gardens like those she had seen on her travels, the Duke Farms staff will offer classes and seed swaps for amateur gardeners.

Universities are using the land for various projects, including one to grow a hybrid American chestnut tree resistant to the blight that has devastated the species. Municipal officials from across the country have visited to learn how to control flood-prone areas, studying the work Duke Farms has done recontouring and replanting along 4.5 miles of the property that borders the Raritan River.

In 2012 900 acres were opened to the public.
Source: Doris Duke's Farm, Opening to Public - May, 2012

Green Initiatives:
Farm Barn - LEED Platinum, Orchid Range - LEED Gold
Solar Array provides the equivalent of 100% of electrical power used. When sunny it puts power back into the grid and draws it out on cloud days and at night.
Adaptive Reuse of Building
Green Initiatives

A 90 acre area to the east of the Visitor Orientation Center has been returned to wetlands with the $500,000 Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) funded byt the USDA's s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Several lakes have floating wetland islands; Manufactured structures designed to foster the growth of a microbial biofilm as well as wetland / terrestrial vegetation. The island itself is a matrix of fibers made from recycled plastic; from drink bottles which use the most inert plastic available. This "two story" biological community is installed in lakes or ponds as a means of assimilating nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, and limiting their availability for nuisance organisms such as blue-green algae and certain aquatic plants. In contrast, the nutrients are utilized by the island's microbial community, which in turn transfers the nutrients to more desirable organisms such as the plants on the surface of the island or fish.


      Great Falls               Sculpture Garden (Hay Barn)              Orchid Range
 (water released for 10 min at 12:30)

Duke Farms Eagle Camera ( Highlights from this and previous years at (

Duke Farms - Public Programs Birding, Tree ID, Education

Duke Farms Map
Larger Map | Google Map | Original at DukeFarms

Hike/run Distances:
Ironman Walk 6.7 miles 2:45 on Duke Farms map (Note: It comes out 5.1 miles by our calculation)
Hike/run miles 4 mi 1, 4 mi b, 2-3-5 mi, 5 miles, detailed mileages
Miles calculated with

Possible Itineraries:

3.5 miles
Meet 10:00 in the Orientation Center
Tour Orientation Center, Watch a 10 minute video 
Orientation talk
11:00 Pick up a sandwich at the cafe
11:15 Leave to hike/ride to Orchid Garden 0.7 mi
11:35 View Orchid garden
11:55 Leave for Great falls 0.6 mi.
12:15 Arrive Great Falls
12:30 Watch waterfall at Great Falls
           Eat lunch 
1:00  Leave for old foundation 0.25 mi
1:30  Leave for coach barn 0.6 mi
2:00  Leave for Wildflower Meadow  0.25 mi
2:15  Leave for Hay Barn (Sculpture Garden)  0.6 mi
2:45-3:00 Sculpture Garden 
3:00  Return to Orientation Center 0.46 mi
3:15  End
Total 3.5 miles

last updated 22 Aug 2013