NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Amid the bustling city of New Brunswick and the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a peaceful retreat right here at Rutgers University.
The Cook/Douglass Campus or, as it is known to Rutgers students, simply “Cook/Doug,” has served as a refuge for visitors from the area seeking to avoid crowds and enjoy nature, especially over the course of the past year.
It was a challenge to see what the campus has to offer in February when the city was slammed with snow, but the accumulation has almost entirely melted, and the campus is quickly returning to its former glory.
Covering 142 acres of woods and lawns, the campus is known for its expansive green spaces, such as the lawn at “Passion Puddle.”
But, there are some lesser known spots as well.
For example, behind the Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center, there is a walking path into the woods and down to a pond where one is greeted by deer, squirrels, birds, and even frogs.
One of the other highlights of the campus is the free 18-hole disc golf course spanning from Nielson Dining Hall to the New Jersey Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health.
Most students are living elsewhere, so the Cook/Douglass is left to the lucky few locals and visitors who get to see the wildlife enchanting the trees and fields.
On trees throughout the expansive campus, one can spot a variety of different birds ranging from American robins to woodpeckers, blue jays, and cardinals.
The campus is named for two influential figures from long ago: George H. Cook, the state geologist and a Rutgers College Vice President, and Mabel Smith Douglass, the first dean of the New Jersey College for Women (later renamed Douglass College).
Today, the Douglass portion of the campus is home to the “Douglass Residential College.”
Fittingly, the campus is also home to the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, formerly known as “Cook College.”
The school has its own faculty, state-of-the art laboratories, and a research farm with horses, goats, sheep, and pigs.
It’s so large that it is located in two different municipalities: New Brunswick and North Brunswick.
Just one visit to Cook/Douglass will dispel any myth that New Brunswick is not home to beautiful, natural spaces.
And the best part is it’s all 100% free.