Friday, August 31, 2012

Hike New Jersey

Pond [Loantaka Brook Reservation]
Pond in Lontaka Brook Reservation, Morris County  Photo by Chris Casciano via Flickr

No big plans for the Labor Day weekend? How about detoxing your brain with a local hike?

Hike New Jersey is a great online guide to hiking trails, local parks, and other outdoor activities in the Garden State.

It may not cover every park in the state (so far) but it just might motivate you to do some exploration on our NJ trails.

Don't be afraid that these are long, arduous, carry a backpack journeys. Many of these hikes are short, loop hikes that bring you back to where you started.

Just looking at the list of sites and trails in northern NJ brought up this short list of places that I have hiked that would be appropriate to newbies and parents with kids.

Black Rock Falls
Hemlock Falls by Chris Casciano via Flickr

I have been hiking in South Mountain Reservation ever since I was a kid, but I still find places I haven't seen or new views in a changing landscape.

South Mountain Reservation in Essex County is a 2000+ acre park that borders Millburn, South Orange and Maplewood. It follows the ridge of the lower Watchung Mountain range.

There are some easy and moderate hiking options and the Lenape Trail [yellow blazes] runs the length of the park.

There are two ponds along dammed sections of the Rahway River. My favorite spot as a kid was Hemlock Falls and I still like walking to that spot (especially after a good rain. It is no Paterson Great Falls, but it's a nice spot. There are a few other smaller water falls along trails.

One well known basalt rock formation is Turtle Back Rock which gave its name to the nearby Turtle Back Zoo.

There are also a number of overlooks to the east with views to the Hudson River and New York City skyline. It's a vantage that General George Washington also took advantage of during the Revolutionary War.

Hike NJ suggests for an afternoon hike starting at the Tulip Springs parking area along Glen Ave. in Millburn and following the white blazed trail north along the Rahway River until it meets South Orange Ave. Make a short detour to see Hemlock Falls and follow the yellow or white/red blazes back south along the top of the ridge.

Photos used here were taken by Chris Casciano and these and other NJ park photos can be purchased at New Jersey Landscape Photography by Chris Casciano. Buy a print to support the Hike NJ site

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