The Somerset Hills is known as the northern region of Somerset County located in the U.S. state of New Jersey and includes the municipalities of Bedminster, Bernardsville, Bernards Township, Far Hills, Peapack & Gladstone. The Morris County communities of the Chesters (borough and township) and the Mendhams (borough and township) are often considered part of the Somerset Hills.
The Somerset Hills is in the northern section of Somerset County that was created on May 14, 1688, from portions of Middlesex County. There are also hills in Somerset in England. Many of these hills are important historical, archaeological and nature conservation sites, as well as popular hiking and tourist destinations in the county of Somerset in southern England.
The term was coined in the early 1800s and references the 2nd Watchung Mountain which crosses Bedminster as well as the Bernardsville Mountain that is the highest mountain in the region.
The high point in the Somerset Hills is on Mine Mountain in Bernardsville, at approximately 860 feet (260 m) above sea level.
Somerset Hills contains the following townships/boroughs:
- Peapack, New Jersey – north
- Gladstone, New Jersey – north
- Bernards Township, New Jersey – east (Includes towns of Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner, W. Millington, Lyons)
- Bernardsville, New Jersey – central
- Bedminster, New Jersey – west (Includes towns of Lamington, Pottersville, Pluckemin, Larger Cross, Lesser Cross
- Far Hills, New Jersey – central
Somerset County borders the following counties:
Climate and weather
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Somerville have ranged from a low of 18 °F (−8 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −16 °F (−27 °C) was recorded in January 1984 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in August 1955. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.84 inches (72 mm) in February to 4.83 inches (123 mm) in July. The county has a humid continental climate which is hot-summer (Dfa) except on Mine Mountain west of Bernardsville where it is warm-summer (Dfb).
The Somerset Hills is the northern section of Somerset County, New Jersey and is part of one of America's oldest counties and is named after the English county of Somerset. Most of the early residents were Dutch, Scottish and German. General George Washington and his troops marched through the area on several occasions and slept in many of the homes located throughout the area.
For much of its history, the Somerset Hills area was primarily an agricultural county. In the late 19th century, the Somerset Hills area became a popular country home location for wealthy industrialists. The area is still the home of wealthy pharmaceutical industrialists.
In the 1960s, townships that were once exclusively agricultural were quickly transformed into suburban communities. This growth was aided by the development of the county's very strong pharmaceutical and technology presence. More recently, there has been an influx of New York City commuters who use NJ Transit's Gladstone Branch or use Interstate 78.
The Somerset Hills played host to a number of events that changed the course of history in the United States. The area hosted three winter encampments for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The first was in 1776 in nearby Bernardsville and Morristown, and the other two were winter encampments in nearby Middlebrook. During the winter of 1778-1779 General Henry Knox and over 1000 artillery troops spent the winter in Pluckemin, New Jersey at what is now known as America's First Military Academy, created 28 years before the founding of the US Military Academy at West Point. Another notable events was the capture of General Charles Lee at the Widow White's tavern in Basking Ridge on December 13, 1776. If it were not for this capture, Lee might have been selected the "father of our country."
In 1779, General Washington wrote General William Alexander, the Earl of Stirling to construct a series of signal beacons to warn the continental army if there was detected movement of the British troops moving west from New York City and Staten Island. This chain of beacons proved effective during the battle of Springfield. These Rev War beacons were remembered during the 225th anniversary of the British Evacuation day on November 25, 2008.
The northern section of Somerset County in the Somerset Hills is rich in history dating back prior to the Revolutionary War.
- Hamilton Farm Stable Complex
- Jacobus Vanderveer House
- Lamington Historic District
- McDonald's-Kline's Mill
- Pluckemin Continental Artillery Cantonment Site
- Pluckemin Village Historic District
- Pottersville Village Historic District
- Bernards Township
- Alward Farmhouse
- Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church
- Brick Academy
- Basking Ridge Historic District
- Coffee House
- Franklin Corners Historic District
- Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead - Bernards Township
- Liberty Corner Historic District (Annin's Corner)
- Lord Stirling Manor Site
- Lyons Veterans Administration Hospital Historic District
- Lyons Train Station - Lyons section of Bernards Township
- Boudinout, Southard, Ross Farmstead - Basking Ridge Section of Bernards Township
- Bernardsville Train Station - Bernardsville
- John Parker Tavern
- Olcott Historic District
- Reynolds-Scherman House
- St. Bernard's Church and Parish House
- Far Hills
Parks and recreation
Somerset County parks include Lord Stirling Park (part of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge), the Environmental Education Commission and the region is one of the largest equestrian areas in the United States. Home to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation next to the Hamilton Farm Golf Club, the area has one of the oldest fox hunting organizations, the Essex Hunt Club in Peapack, New Jersey.
Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster is an exclusive golf club owned by Donald Trump. The facility has also served as the 45th President's Summer Whitehouse. Two other golf clubs are the Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, and Fiddlers Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The United States Golfing Association (USGA) and museum is also located in Bernards Township, New Jersey.
One of the largest equestrian events in the United States is the Far Hills Race Meeting held annually in Far Hills, New Jersey. Known also as "The Hunt" it is one of the most prestigious steeplechase races in the United States. It is also one of the largest events in the county as the borough grows to over 25,000 (5th largest city in New Jersey)  on the October Saturday. In 2020, the FHRM will celebrate its 100th running.
While part of Somerset County, each of the Somerset Hills townships are governed by their own separate government bodies. However, there are a number of shared government services that are shared between townships in the Somerset Hills. Somerset County is governed by a five-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. At the federal level, the towns are all located within New Jersey's 7th congressional district.
With access to routes 287 and 78, NJT rails service via the Gladstone Line, the area has shown a viable rural employment area. Companies that call the Somerset Hills home include:
- Bernards Township
- Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
- Pfizer Pharma
- Matheny Medical & Educational Center
Townships within the Somerset Hills are overseen by individual public schools for elementary thru middle school. The Somerset Hills area is home to two public high schools:
- Ridge High School, Bernards Township
- Somerset Hills Regional High School. Bernardsville supports public school students from Bedminster, Bernardsville, Far Hills, Peapack & Gladstone
Private education facilities:
- Somerset Hills Learning Institute, founded in 1998 and now located in Bedminster Township, is a state-of-the-art program dedicated to educating children on the autism spectrum by utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis.
- The Bonnie Brae School - Bernards Township, New Jersey
- The Matheny School - Peapack, New Jersey
- The Lord Stirling School - Bernards Township, New Jersey
- The Pingry School - Bernards Township, New Jersey
- Gill St. Bernards School - Gladstone, New Jersey
- The Albrook School - Bernards Township, New Jersey
- Far Hills Country Day School - Far Hills, New Jersey
- Somerset Hills Montessori School - Bernards Township, New Jersey
- The Willow School - Gladstone, New Jersey
Municipalities in the Somerset Hills (with 2010 Census data for population, housing units and area) are listed below.
|Township||8,165||4,349||26.30||0.22||26.08||313.1||166.8||Somerset Hills (9-12) (S/R)
Bedminster Township (PK-8)
|Township||26,652||10,103||24.06||0.13||23.93||1,113.6||422.1||Bernards Township||Basking Ridge
|Far Hills||Borough||919||418||4.88||0.08||4.80||191.6||87.1||Somerset Hills|
Roads and highways
NJ Transit provides bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, as well as service to major cities in New Jersey and within Somerset County. Ridewise provides three SCOOT shuttles as well as DASH buses and CAT buses.
- AAUW of the Somerset Hills
- Mr Local History Research Non-Profit Project
- Charter Day, Basking Ridge
- Environmental Education Center (Great Swamp)
- Far Hills Race Meeting
- Hills Development
- Leonard J. Buck Gardens
- Lord Stirling Stables (Riding Lessons/Rentals)
- Natarir County Park and estate
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Somerset County, New Jersey
- Ross Farm Music Series
- Raptor Trust Bird Sanctuary
- Somerset Hills YMCA
- Somerset Hills Country Club
- Trilogy Repertory Community Theater
- Trump National Golf Club of Bedminster
- VNA Rummage Sale
- Bulletin. 1973.
- Snyder, John P. The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey; 1969. p. 221. Accessed October 30, 2012.
- "Second Watchung Mountain". Topozone.
- New Jersey County High Points, Peakbagger.com. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- Areas touching Somerset County, MapIt. Accessed January 19, 2015.
- Clemence, Sara. "Home of the Week: Peapack Palace", Forbes, March 14, 2005. Accessed May 22, 2008. "It was once the country home of some of the 19th century's wealthiest families, and modern-day residents now include pharmaceuticals and chemicals barons."
- Betz, Brooks (25 December 2019). "America's First Military Academy". Mr. Local History project.
- Welcome, Trump National Golf Club. Accessed October 6, 2013. "Greetings from Donald J. Trump: When I saw this beautiful piece of property in Bedminster, New Jersey, I knew that it deserved only the best."
- "Trump's Summer White House in Bedminster, New Jersey". Mr. Local History Project. 8 August 2017.
- "Far Hills Race Meeting History". Mr. Local History Project. 14 October 2019.
- History, Somerset Hills Learning Institute. Accessed October 29, 2017.
- GCT-PH1: Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County -- County Subdivision and Place from the 2010 Census Summary File 1 for Somerset County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed May 14, 2015.
- Locality Search, State of New Jersey. Accessed May 11, 2015.
- Gladstone Branch Raritan Valley Line, NJ Transit. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Transportation Services Archived August 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Somerset County, New Jersey. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- Somerset County Bus / Rail Connections, NJ Transit, backed up by the Internet Archive as of May 22, 2009. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Scoot, Ridewise. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- DASH, Ridewise. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- CAT, Ridewise. Accessed January 19, 2015.
- Mr Local History Research Non-Profit Project
- In the Somerset Hills Vol1 & Vol2
- In the Somerset Hills - The Landed Gentry
- History of the Somerset Hills Country Club
- Somerset County website
- Somerset County National Historic Places
- Somerset County Parks Commission
- Hills List is a local informational website for the Bedminster and Basking Ridge areas
- Tale of Two Bedminsters (New Jersey and England)
- Thinking of Living in Bedminster, New Jersey - NY Times
- Thinking of Living in Basking Ridge, New Jersey - NY Times