If you showed up with your running shoes to run Skillman Park, it would probably look and feel like thousands of other beautiful New Jersey running locations. However, once you set out and begin your run, you will feel the eeriness of this unique location. Years ago, we ran this location frequently when the buildings were still up and we always felt a creepy vibe throughout the facility.
Here and now, Skillman Park is a peaceful, serene, 247-acres in the Skillman section of Montgomery Township with a perfect 2.25 mile paved loop. However the history goes back to 1898 where the park was called “The State Village for Epileptics” and later “The North Princeton Developmental Center” and had a reputation for cruel medical treatment.
The facility was eventually closed down in the late 1990’s. It sat desolate and out of place for several years to follow, eventually becoming a Weird NJ destination and a must-see for urban spelunkers. After years of litigation, the buildings were eventually demolished, the grounds cleaned up and the park now serves as a wonderful, passive park (that still holds a bit of fear & intrigue).
If you want to see great video of what the abandoned buildings used to look like, simply You Tube “North Princeton Developmental Center” as there are dozens to view.
The Bad: Now that the buildings are gone, there isn’t much to look at. The occasional deer or other animal may cross your path, but otherwise, its your headphones and your imagination that keep you fro getting too bored.
Distance: An easy, flat 3.25 miles.
Surface: Paved trail with plenty of open grass fields, if that’s your preference.
Restrooms: Portable ones only.
Scary Factor: 6 out of 10. Although this place has an incredible history (with varying scariness based on who you ask) it is safe and beautiful. Some folks swear they hear noises and see odd things, but others are more skeptical. We’ll let you all decide for yourself.
Bragging Rights/Cool Story Factor: 8 out 10. If you tell any NJ kid of the 1990’s that you ran one of the best Weird NJ sites, they will definitely be impressed.
Specifics: Route 601 in Skillman, Somerset County. The nearest cross street is route 518.