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 seimi-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.