Pyramid Mountain

On Father’s Day (or the weekend after) I took my dad on a trip to a park that neither of us had hiked previously, Pyramid Mountain – part of the Morris County Parks.  The trails at Pyramid Mountain are known for their glacial erratics – we definitely wanted to see Tripod Rock, but ended up passing a bunch of different rocks.  The day started out nice, however as we got closer to the park it started to rain.  Since we were most of the way there, we were not about to turn back; and it was not yet raining that hard.  That would change.

There were not many other cars in the parking lot when we arrived – probably pretty typical for a rainy day.  I can imagine with the sun out and nice weather that parking lot can get packed. We stopped into the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area visitors center before we started the hike…wow!  What a treat.  The exhibits were great (and given the weather) we had the place to ourselves.  Definitely stop inside if you are hiking in the area, the visitors center is well worth it.

The trailhead was well stocked with maps, and the trail maps for the park are very well done – with a great legend, marked trails and easily read.  It was easy to follow paths, and that I recall, everything was well marked.  We started on the Blue trail and took that to the White trail, which we followed for a while.  We stopped off at Bear rock, a HUGE rock at a trail junction, where we saw the only other people hiking in the park.  We debated cutting over on the Blue/White trail and shortening the hike – it was raining pretty good at this point.  But, we decided to carry on – taking the Blue trail around Bear Swamp and towards the ridge.  There is one steep section that goes up a short distance as you climb onto the ridge.  It’s steep.  I felt it in my thighs when we got to the top.  A short distance from the the top of that climb brought us to Whale Head rock, another very large rock.  I’ll admit, I really did not see the whales head in the rock.  Onward, we hiked on the Red / White-striped trail until it junctioned with the White.  We took the White to Tripod Rock where sits one of the most famous erratics in the park.  I took some pictures here, and this was the only place I took any pictures due to the rain.

After tripod rock, we continued on the Blue trail while on the ridge.  A short detour to Lucy’s Overlook, which probably would have had a magnificent view if it were not cloudy and rainy, was well worth the rocks and the climb.  This “detour” is clearly marked on the Blue trail.  Back on the blue, we hiked until we junctioned with the Yellow and took that all the way back to the visitors center.  (I believe we got back on the Blue for a 300 feet or so to get to the parking lot.)

We had a great time despite the weather.  Turkey Mountain is “across the street” and is something I look forward to coming back to hike.

Hiked:  6/17/2017

Manasquan Reservoir – 5-Mile Loop

On a hot Summer day I was looking for a hike that was somewhat nearby.  I had been hiking a lot within the Monmouth County Parks System and saw that the Manasquan Reservoir was on my list to hike.  I have been to the park in the past, but not to hike, so the trip was familiar.  The  park is large, with ample parking – many people are there for the reservoir itself.  Also, the reservoir has a fabulous nature center – when I was at the nature center with the kids, there was a camera to see the eagle’s nest, turtles, and all kinds of exhibits.

There are numerous places to walk the reservoir loop trail, but probably the two most popular are from the nature center or from the main reservoir parking lot.  I chose to start from the main parking lot.

For this loop you will walk five miles all around the reservoir.  On the day I did this loop is was very hot.  While a good portion of the trail meanders around the water, and much of it is covered, there is one section by the nature center (along the road) that is in the bright sun.  If it is hot, bring water; in fact, bring extra.  On this day, I thought I might actually run out.

The walk is easy, and very well marked.  The trail, such as it is, is a concrete path, that circles the water.  Outside of the length, this is an easy walk.  There is lots to see, many gorgeous views of the reservoir.  On my walk, I happened to see deer on the north side of the reservoir.

When I finished, I stopped in the visitor’s center where you could rent kayaks and canoes – I think there is a concession stand, though it wasn’t open when I was there.

Fair Haven (NJ) Natural Area

As I live near Fair Haven, I have driven by the Fair Haven Natural Area many times – seen the parking lot and wondered what really was in there.  Fair Haven lists the park on their web site, here, and after some digging, I waited for a sunny day with a couple of hours to spare in order to check it out.  Certainly, you don’t need much time.  I figure I walked no MORE than two miles; and that was going over some trails more than once.

There is a nice gravel parking lot with enough room for ten or so cars.  At the “trailhead” there is a good-sized board with a large picture of the trail map, along with other information about the park.  You really can’t get lost, the park is not that big.  And really, if you did, if you picked a direction and started walking a straight line, you would come to one of two major roads, a housing development, Fair Haven athletic fields, or the Fair Haven Methodist church.

However, this is a great place to get away for an hour.  Trails are wide, well kept, and mostly dirt.  Once a year Fair Haven hosts a day where the trails are cleaned up and maintained.  It is relatively quiet while walking the trails, though you will hear cars as you walk near the roadways and (in season) the athletic fields are well used.

My favorite spot in the park is the pond, which sits smack dab in the middle.  You can get to it easily from the parking lot, or you can amble around and run into.  What makes the pond enjoyable are the benches scattered around the perimeter offering nice views and a comfortable place to sit and watch the pond and listen to the wildlife.  While on my hike I could watch the turtles sunning themselves on logs.

Enjoy the park.  I am sure I’ll visit again, to warm up for longer hikes or just to get away for an hour or so.

Hike to Hemlock Falls – South Mountain Reservation

Rock hopping!  Woohoo!  What fun.  Not having to have done that before on a hike, this was a real treat, and a great hike that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I learned of this hike when my co-worker mentioned taking his girlfriend to the park to hike and to see the waterfall; they parked close to the falls and took a few of the popular woods roads.  After stealing their idea, I plotted a hike.

Some (strong) advice:  Not only print out the map from here, but I would copy the directions to a text document and print that out.  There are so many side trails and woods roads that one can easily get turned around, make a wrong turn, or end up going in a direction you don’t want to.  While there was a big board with the map at the trailhead, there were not printed maps to take with you.  I suppose you could take a picture of that.

On the day I went, it was a gorgeous 75 and sunny.  I arrived around noon and parked in the Locust Grove lot, which was packed by that time.  I checked my map, and started up the Lenape (yellow) trail.  Ok, I like steep, and I like strenuous, but I wasn’t expecting this opening to a trail.  The trail basically goes straight up the ridge, no switchbacks to speak of, just a rocky trail straight up, with the ascent stopping at Crest Drive.  I noticed people doing this portion in flip flops and sneakers, and there were some really young kids too.  I could foresee some trouble ahead.  The first time I pulled out the directions was after walking down Crest Drive a bit.  The Lenape trail isn’t really well marked here.  Essentially, head to Washington Rock.

From Washington Rock you will see the lookout, with a great view right in front of you.  Head down and spend a few minutes enjoying the view.  You will notice that many people are here, many have parked and walked to Washington Rock – and honestly, if you are not in it for the hike, this is a great idea.  Back to the Lenape trail.  When I was there, finding the trail was not intuitive.  From the view, turn around and face up the hill.  The trail is IMMEDIATELY to your left, going slightly downhill.  It was overgrown when I was there, and fortunately, I heard voices coming up the hill.  Off I went.

While walking the trail I came to a couple of stream beds.  I suspect that at other times in the year, water flows, cascades may be present, and you’ll hear some gurgling.  Nothing, on this hike.  Barely a trickle in some parts.  The board-bridges are still there to help you cross.

Along the way, I came to a couple of rock piles.  On the other side of the rocks, there is a steep downslope with many roots.

The trail winds its way around, and you will ultimately come to the falls.  When I arrived, there were many people milling around.  And because I did not see many people on the trail I could not understand how that many people were at the falls.  I later found out you could drive to a lot right near the falls and take a short, relatively easy, hike down to view the falls.  As it had been been sunny and dry for a couple of weeks, there was not much water coming down the falls.

To get back to the lot, I thought I would take the Rahway (white) trail.  From the falls I had to follow the Lenape to the Rahway.  A small note here, while following the Lenape, you’ll come to a four-way intersection.  The Rahway trail is right in front of you – sort of into the bushes.  After a couple of steps, you’ll see the white blazes and know you are on the right path.  Fun times will be right in front of you as you reach the Rahway river.  Time for some rock hopping!  When I hiked through, the river was at the right height, not too fast, and if I fell or slipped, it would not be that deep.

After crossing the river, follow the trail for a while until you come to an intersection of a few trails and a gravel road.  Cross the bridge that is to your left (I believe there where white/red blazes,) and before you get to the woods road, the trail goes to the right.  It’s not easy to spot.  Once you make the turn, you will spy the white blazes.  The trail follows the river and has some nice views.

One nice surprise was the end of the White Trail (which ended up at the Locust Grove parking lot) are the fairy houses.  I’ll leave the surprise to you, you will definitely see one, and then look for more as you finish up.  It’s awesome to see, however leave them for the next person to find.  I saw numerous young kids at the end, and fortunately, no one was disturbing the houses.

Hiked:  9/4/2017

Where to hike (and wander) in New Jersey

When I was much younger my dad used to take my brother and I hiking in the Delaware Water Gap, specifically Mt. Minsi, and Mt. Tammany.  Many times I’ve hiked Tammany.  And for the longest time, I thought that was it for hiking in New Jersey.  Always the Water Gap.

Since I’ve rediscovered hiking, I’ve been to a whole bunch of new places and experienced some truly amazing hikes; and I know I’ve only scratched the surface.  Just recently, my dad and I hiked Pyramid Mountain in the rain to see Bear Rock, Whale Rock, and Tripod Rock.  And, my most recent hike was the Lenape and Rahway trails to see Hemlock Falls in South Mountain Reservation – where I got to experience rock-hopping for the first time (write-up coming soon.)

I don’t have “bucket lists” of hikes I have to do.  I do have a list of hikes that I’ve discovered while clicking around on the interwebs; mostly getting inspired from online lists I’ve found.  I like rock scrambles, I (now) like rock hopping, and I like some strenuous activity.  The couple of lists below should help you branch out and find additional great hikes like they have for me.

50 Hikes in New Jersey (I think I have a different version.)

That’s just a start for NJ.  I’m sure I’ll find more and update the list in the future.


edit 9/26/2017 – added the Asbury Park Press article.

Hello World

This is the post excerpt.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

A great walking poem by the master.

I started this blog to chronicle my wandering.  This year alone I’ve walked more trails than I have up to this year combined.  There have been some great trails, great views, and great challenges.  Not only have the trails been great, but the journey has been just as great; finding great restaurants, diners, and other neat gems.

Get out there.  Find your trail.  Walk blaze to blaze.  And remember, not all those who wander are lost.