Monday, December 30, 2013

Hike Into 2014

New Jersey's state parks will host "First Day Hikes" on the first day of 2014 as part of a national movement to kick off a healthier New Year.

There are 23 guided hikes, two mountain bike rides and a horseback ride and all are free (most are child-friendly and allow leashed dogs). Some "hikes" are more like "walks" so don't be frightened off if you're not in great shape.

A list of First Day events and descriptions, registration information and meeting places is online at

Some samples:

Early risers and true hikers can hit the trail at 8:45 a.m. for the Highlands Trail Hike from Spruce Run Reservoir in Clinton to Voorhees State Park in Lebanon Township - a 15-mile hike along rail trail, roads and rugged mountain paths.

Gentler walking at Island Beach State Park for a one-hour nature hikes at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Explore the ecology of the park and its unique history.

Hike history with the first hike of the day at 7:30 a.m. for a "real time" tour of the Battle of Princeton at the Princeton Battlefield Park and trace the steps of American and British troops at the exact time of day as the original battle in 1777.

There are also hikes at Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Waterloo Village and the First Day Nature Hike at Cheesequake State Park in Matawan.
One of my favorite Jersey places is the Pine Barrens and at 10 a.m. at  the New Jersey Conservation Foundation's Franklin Parker Preserve in Chatsworth there is a 3-mile hike exploring the reservoirs and bogs of this former cranberry farm, now a haven for birds and wildlife.

I wish I had my own horse to go to Kittatinny Valley State Park in Blairstown for its First Day horseback ride at 10 a.m. Nearby, walkers with only 2 legs can join the Paulinskill Valley rail trail hike in another section of the park at 10 a.m.

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