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What is the Battle of Short Hills Walk?

The Battle of Short Hills Walk is a one-day, 13-mile distance walk following the Lord Sterling's American troops on June 22, 1777. It starts at the Metuchen Train Station, convenient to rail and other transportation and parking facilities. County Freeholders selected several special events and programs during this week of the celebration of NJ History. FreeWalkers are working with the Union County Parks to create this event and invite the public to join us. The FreeWalkers offer this and over 25 other events each year as opportunities to build awareness of recreational resources, health, fitness and history. We support livable communities and public transportation options.

Paul Kiczek, founder of is the FreeWalkers event leader for this walk. We worked closely with Union County Parks' Gabe Gluck who devoted much effort to the logistics and historical resources for the event. The event is free and open to everyone. 

Can anyone walk the Battle of Short Hills Walk? 

Yes, the walk is open to any individual. Keep in mind that this is not a race and the main group of walkers expect to finish in 4-5 hours (13 miles). This assumes being able to walk at a fairly brisk pace, with time given to some interesting stops along the way. That represents being able to walk at an average of about 2.5 to 3 mph. Since the walk is part tour, we expect most of the starting group to remain together or re-join at a later time. You may choose to walk at your own pace too. Chances are excellent that you will meet walkers with a variety of experience and skill to meet your objectives.
To accommodate various skills and fitness levels, participating walkers can meet up with the walk at various designated points along the route. See the Route Schedule for various suggested intermediate spots where you might consider joining in or tailing off. We post a schedule of times where we anticipate the group will be passing various locations so you can plan ahead. 

You might consider setting a shorter walk. Depending on the scheduled event, you may be able to take advantage of the free van service to the Westfield Train Station..Please see details of the event to see if it is available.

Why are you doing this type of event? 
While we have reprieved previous historical walks, this is a popular style that follows a battle. We believe that it should enhance the participant's understanding and appreciation of the historical event. These events provides a way for the general public to participate together in a large-scale form of exercise while visiting a variety of communities and unique areas from a closer vantage point. In utilizing an available recreational resource, we hope to demonstrate the benefit of these types of resources to the public which we hope in turn will help guide future urban/suburban planning projects. We also hope to benefit the historical places and trails involved by promoting awareness, membership and donations.
In Revolutionary times and the not so distant past, walking and "pedestrianism" was a way of life - and battle. It is as a result of our dependence on automobiles and other forms of transportation that our society has changed the look of its communities. In more recent times, commercial business and roads have marginalized our communities and caused us to limit the use of self-propelled travel. There are health and societal implications to our past policies. Our walking events follow a national movement to consider pedestrian traffic (walking and cycling) in all community and transportation projects.

Why this battle?

The Battle of Short Hills represented an important battle skirmish and demonstrated Washington's strategy of dealing with the British by chosing battles and taking advantage of the natural landscape of New Jersey to hold the English at bay. The battle ended in bloody casualties on both sides and is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Bloody Gap. We may view the area where a creek was said to run red with blood from the soldiers who gave their life for their country.

Does it cost anything to participate in the walk?
No. This walking event is open to the general public and is organized by the Union County Freeholders and the FreeWalkers, a free, social network of individuals interested in long distance walking and related walking events. The FreeWalkers design and provide a rewarding physical experience to the participants and to build awareness of pro-pedestrian issues.

Participants should carry or purchase water and food or energy snacks on their own. There may be refreshments provided depending on the particular event. Historical buildings maybe opened where possible. There may be restroom facilities available but it is best to take advantage of any public or proprietary restroom when necessary. 

To expedite the start of the event and make it easier for you and your guests it is best to sign-up online prior to the event. Registered participants get the latest event information and will be able to set their own walking goals. After the walk, we survey participants and post results for registered walkers and and tally with others for the total miles walked that day. We expect to distribute a souvenir personalized "dog tag" for each participant who completes the survey.You do not have to complete the entire walk distance to qualify for a "dog tag".

We typically request a voluntary donation at the start of the walk that will go directly to help stage similar events or to benefit related non-profits. Donations are not required.

Isn’t walking in certain areas dangerous? How can I be sure that I’ll be safe if I walk? 
The route that is planned for the walk has been deemed safe but reasonable care should be taken. This walk will be on sidewalks, streets and on natural trails and walkable paths and parks, There are some crossings in particular that may take walkers briefly onto busy roads. Always exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings and be visible to traffic. Most importantly, walk with others if you can. You will not only feel safer but enjoy the day even more. Also, consider taking a hat, appropriate clothes for the weather, water, sunscreen and some light snacks. Although support for each event can vary it is best to be self-reliant.

How long does the walk take? Where do I start and finish? 
The regular 13-mile battle route will start from the Metuchen Train Station and will typically finish at the Deserted Village in the Watchung Reservation or at Oak Ridge Park (where the battle took place). From there we expect most walkers to walk to a train station - either Westfield, Fanwood or back to Metuchen. Walkers can then take the train to Newark/NYC and Southeast Corridor trains south to Metuchen and toward Trenton. (Metered parking is available in Metuchen (see parking information). 

This should accommodate the trains from the north and south. We expect the regular 13-mile group to finish in about 4-5 hours (assuming stopping at several popular spots along the way). If you would like to walk a shorter distance we will have various other opportunities to join in along the route as mentioned above. 

What if I can’t make it all the way? 
Walkers should plan in advance. A train stations are always within 3 miles on this route.  Busses also run in the area and the distance is within a reasonable taxi or Uber ride back. There will be no formal support for the walk since it is a moderate distance and there are plenty of resources available along the way. But, we strongly advise that you have a contingency plan to call someone you can rely on to pick you up if you need assistance as a back-up plan. Remember, that walking even 13 miles, can be difficult physical task if you have not prepared for it.  If in doubt, you should consider one of our shorter distance goals and have a contingency plan.

What happens if it rains or we experience other bad weather conditions? 
There is a rain date set for this event. The event may be cancelled if the weather is bad. At this time of the year, heavy rain may cause a cancellation. Check back at the event website or for final details near the day of the event. We'll also keep in touch right to the last minute via email.

Who do I contact to find out more and to keep up to date as the event progresses?

Visit this website for the most current information about the walk. 
Be sure to sign up for the battlewalk This will provide you with ongoing current information.
For general questions on the event email