This was a quick one, as I didn’t plan on getting out this week. There are not a lot of pictures, either, because this was so short. The day was perfect as it was mid-70s and dry, no humidity. I got to the trailhead early, and there were still many cars, and I found there to be many bikes on the trail. The lot was almost full upon my return.
I had been to the Eastern side of the park a couple of weeks ago and the Rocky Point trail was still more or less still a trail. This week I was in the middle of the park and the trails were less hiking trails and more bike trails.
The last time I was here I noticed the prevalence of invasive plants. I guessed Kudzu, but I think it is actually Porcelain-berry, which is in the grape family. I saw the berries, I’ve heard they’re edible, but I’ve heard they don’t taste like much.
Part way up the Grand Tour, I could see what looked like devastation in the distance. Eventually, I came to sign explaining what was going on. In early 2022, the park service, along with the US Forest Service and the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team, started to remove invasive species in Hartshorne Woods. Specifically, the groups were targeting Porcelain-berry, Multiflora Rose, and Japanese Knotweed. The plan is to thoroughly clear the invasive species, then replant.
It was nice to get back on forested trails.
Eventually, I turned onto the Cuesta Ridge trail and headed back to the car.
Trails: Rocky Point, Battery Loop, Black Fish Cove
I last hiked this section of the park in 2016. I hiked the western side of the park in 2018. And what’s weird, all three times that I’ve hiked this park have been in the second week of July. My rationale this time was simply ease. I wasn’t planning on hiking today, but found the time, so I didn’t want to drive far.
I like the county park system, I’m not a fan of the trails in the parks; with the exception of Hartshorne Woods. And there have been great changes since I was last on this side of the park six years ago. For one, money has been spent to upgrade and make the part nicer and easier to get around. One example sits next to the trail kiosk; there is a stand to fix bikes, including an air pump. True, the park sees many mountain bikes, but it’s a nice touch to have a stand to fix bikes when needed. Further, (on this side of the park) the Rocky Point trail is really the only non-paved trail and it actually had blazes. Granted, with the number of bikes using the trail, you don’t have to worry about getting lost. I walked by restrooms, but I don’t know if the building was open.
My plan was to hike Rocky Point, and then hike Battery Loop, which I did not hike six years ago.
When I started, there was a dark rain cloud over the park. I wasn’t worried about rain as the rain was supposed to hold off until much later. At times it was pretty dark and with the trees real close it felt darker than normal.
The eastern side of the park is made up of the grounds of the former Navesink Military Reservation. While the batteries are the main attraction, there are other buildings and relics leftover from when the area was an active base.
The Rocky Point trail parallels the shore of the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers, though most of the time you are a hundred feet or so above the rivers. One part of the Rocky Point trail wanders by one of the old Fire Control Sites. I only approached to take a picture, I couldn’t tell if the building was accessible. My guess is not.
The sun peeked in and out for most of the hike, though came out for good at the end.
There were a couple of nice views of Sea Bright, that probably are nicer when the leaves are off the trees.
The trail walks above the rivers, and there are unmarked trails people have made to get down to the water. With erosion, some of those trails have become dangerous.
I took the quarter-mile long Black Fish Cove trail down to the pier. There are signs warning of a steep incline, but it really isn’t that bad. The pier looks out over the Navesink river. Take these next three pictures and stitch them left to right for a “panoramic” view of the Navesink River from the pier.
In the woods I found this hatch. I have no idea what it is, it’s not listed on any maps I have.
After finishing the Rocky Point trail, I dropped my trekking poles off at the car, as the Battery Loop trail is paved. I had never hiked the trail, and I was interested in the history.
Another tree swallowed by Kudzu.
The first battery I came to was Battery 219, which originally housed a 6-inch gun. The battery was not open.
The Battery Loop trail was lined with a bumper crop of Common Mugwort.
The main attraction on the Battery Loop trail is Battery Lewis, which originally held 16-inch guns. The original guns are long gone.
Here’s a shot looking down corridor between the two casements. Powder rooms, ammunition rooms and the electrical generators were housed down there. Apparently, there are tours on the weekends, but later in the day. I’ll have to do that once.
Since the original guns are gone, the County Park System was able to get a 16-inch gun from the battleship New Jersey. The original guns in the casement were 64 feet long, the New Jersey’s gun is 68 feet long. It’s huge. The shell could reach waters off Point Pleasant. The Navesink Military Reservation was built as an auxiliary to Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook. Two sites worth reading are:
I didn’t plan to hike this weekend, the weather was supposed to be lousy on Saturday, and nicer on Sunday – I couldn’t go on Sunday. But, on Friday, I saw that the weather would be ok for the morning on Saturday, so I scrambled to find something “close” by – which meant a county park. I left for the trailhead in bright sun, but left the park just as clouds were building. It would start pouring when I got home.
Be advised, there’s not much technical here, no steeps, no sweeping views, and no water crossings. But, for the most part, it’s a nice walk in the woods. When you are not in the woods, there are big fields – which may not feel like hiking but has a different kind of view.
I parked in the Agress Road lot, and first hiked to the east on the Lakeside Loop. I came back to the parking lot and did a long out and back to the west. There is a parking lot all the way on the western edge that does not appear on the map.
This hike started out on a field’s edge.
There were lots of Mock Strawberries on the trail. They are real small, about the size of a small marble. And no, they don’t taste like strawberries at all…they taste like….nothing.
At one point, I came across this overgrown section just before the lake. There were numerous sections like this. Tick Central.
The trail is up the hill from Perrineville Lake, and you can only see the lake through the trees. I did not see a spur trail that went down to the lake, I suppose I could have bushwacked.
Most of the time the trail is wide packed dirt. The exception is walking on the edges of the fields.
On the western side, the trail comes right up on the fishing pond (I couldn’t find a true name.) This is more scenic in that you can get right up to the edge of the water.
Some of the fields have expansive views.
There is a small connector trail that heads down to Assunpink Wildlife Management area. Supposedly there are trails there, I have yet to find a good map. I took the trail down, and when the blaze changed color, I stopped. AllTrails probably could have helped me out, but I didn’t want to chance it. This picture is looking into Assunpink WMA.
There were lots of squirrels rustling about in the leaves. And I’m pretty sure I disturbed a chipmunk convention.
The big field on the western side of the park apparently grows wheat.
The sun was out for the most part, though the forests provided good shade.
I walked right by the Quail Run trail on the way out, and was determined to find it on the way back. There is no marker at the junction. And I never saw a marker or blaze on the trail. Here’s the trail leading away from the Rocky Brook trail.
This trail had the most color. It also had the most gnats.
The trail dead-ended for me. I believe it connects with a road, but I could not see that connection. I turned around and headed back to the car.
Just as I was leaving clouds were rolling in.
(This is your typical Monmouth County Park system blaze. Trails are colored by their “difficulty” – like ski trails. I think I saw five or six the whole day.)
(I have no idea what this blaze is for, it was tacked up on a tree, on the trail. It’s the only one I saw.)
Trail Map – surprisingly, there were printed brochures
Hike Distance: 6.09 miles
Trails – all (Glen Trail, Bridges Trail, Clayton Fields Trail, Doctor’s Creek, and Old Forge Trail)
I wanted to do something shorter and close to home, so off to Clayton Park, a Monmouth County Park. While a typical Monmouth county park, with very little signage or blazing, the trails were wide, dirt, with leaf covering and some roots. It was nice to not have rocks. Be warned though, there are LOTS of mountain bikes.
You can see by my map that I hiked almost the entire park, I tried not to double-back, but there were two spots I had to. You really can’t get lost, and you can make as many loops as you want. Bring a paper map or GPS to guide you around the unmarked trails.
With all the brown, it would be easier to pick out plants and mushrooms.
I did not see one blaze in the park. The closest thing to a blaze are the signs at trail junctions.
There is very little elevation, there are a couple of hills to ascend and descend.
I found some of my favorite, and I never just find one. Trees and logs are always covered with them.
I walked a good portion of the Clayton Fields Trail though I did not walk to the lake.
Shakedown hike! I’ve been to Holmdel Park countless times, it’s about 20 minutes from my house. But, after my last couple of hikes I had to make some changes and this seemed like a great place to a) hike a trail I haven’t been on, and b) test out some new gear.
First: For Father’s Day I was given money to purchase trekking poles. After coming down the steep section of the mountain on the Green trail in Apshawa Preserve, I realized I should probably try trekking poles. I realize that they seem to be a polarizing issue; you either love them or hate them. I can see pros and cons, but if they truly make it a little more comfortable, I’m game. I purchased a pair of Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking poles, cork handles and lever locks.
Second: After the debacle with the boots I figured it was time to upgrade to newer boots. My previous boots were L. L. Bean boots, of about twenty years; though used the most during the past five. I know there rages two debates, boots or trail runners, and waterproof or non-waterproof. Ultimately, I think I’ll move to trail runners at some point, to save the weight, however; given where I hike and the sheer amount of rocks I went with a more traditional boot. And, I went with non-waterproof as they will dry quicker. My choice was Merrell Moab 2 Vents, and a ridiculous deal from Amazon.
So, this hike was to break in new boots and learn how to effectively use trekking poles.
The boots are awesome, they barely need breaking in. They are extremely comfortable and a noticeable upgrade from my last boots. As for the poles, it took me a mile or two to really get them right. I’m sure I looked pretty spastic to the people coming the other way as I was trying to get into the right rhythm with them. My verdict, I like them. Certainly, on flat sections I get into a good rhythm and can make good (better) time. Plus, there is an upper body workout as well. Holmdel park isn’t known for elevation changes, but I did get to climb and descent some small hills; and I definitely see advantages to the poles. They’ll make rock hopping and stream crossings easier, though I don’t know how much they’ll get used during scrambles.
As for the hike…this was a typical Monmouth County Park System hike. There were very few blazes, mostly markers telling you which way the trail went. And there were plenty of unmarked trails. Trails were wide and well used, so it is very hard to actually get lost, though I found it difficult staying to my plan. More than once I had to turn around.
One of the neatest aspects of this section of Holmdel Park is that the park follows Ramanessin Brook which is known to have shark’s teeth and fossils in it. While walking along the southern portion of the Steeplechase trail I came across a person who had a couple.
I hiked down to the water to check it out. I would like to come back and walk the brook and see what’s actually there as the brook is shallow and easily walk-able, and on a hot summer day will feel great. I’ve heard that there are more fossils and teeth at Big Brook Park.
By the end of the hike I was pretty proficient with the poles and will be happy to bring them on future hikes. And the boots were great. I didn’t realize that the Ramanessin area had it’s own pull-out lot, which would have shaved about three quarters of a mile off the hike. I parked in the main Longstreet Farm lot, which was starting to get full by the time I returned.
Trails: Sweetbriar Trail, Eastern Loop, and an unmarked trail
I had some time to kill, and I just recently learned there was a Monmouth County park in Ocean Township. Weather was great, partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid-70s. I almost didn’t break a sweat during the walk.
There’s a pull-off, right off West Park Avenue, that fits 5-7 cars comfortably. The trails start off with a wide dirt road.
Most of the trails are sand or dirt, no rocks to speak of, and no elevation change. A good portion of the trails were mowed paths through fields.
A bat house:
I was hiking along fine until:
According to the map, I should have headed left. Consulting AllTrails, there was a whole new trail to the left. Of course, this is not on the trail map provided by the Park System. (By the way, print one off, if you want one, there were none at the kiosk.) I chose right, and added on to the hike.
The grass along side the paths was taller than me in some spots.
I was surprised to find cactus here:
This was a great way to kill an hour or so. You really can’t get lost. Some of the unmarked side trails appear to head off to the properties to the East of the park.
Blazes (I think I captured every signpost on the trails. There are no actual blazes):
We’ve had a couple weeks of oppressive heat and humidity, culminated by thunderstorms yesterday. Those storms chased out the humidity and lowered the temperatures, and today was absolutely gorgeous. I woke up to upper 60 degree temperatures and clear sunny skies. I know I’m somewhat booked the next couple of weekends, so I figured I would get a hike in today; and take advantage of the excellent weather. Off I went on a short drive to Hartshorne Woods, the Buttermilk Valley entrance, to hike the western side of the park. I had hiked the eastern side almost exactly two years ago.
I thought I was smart by getting up early and getting to the trail head before the bikes got there and before it started to get warmer. I wasn’t smart enough. I got the last quasi-legal spot in the lot.
I started on Laurel Ridge (rated medium) which climbed to the top of the hill quickly. I’d guess a hundred or so feet. The trail was wide and very easy to follow, despite the lack of blazes. With no humidity and comfortable temperatures (70) it was a great walk.
After a short walk, I turned on the Grand Tour (rated difficult). The trail type changed, the park calls it more “primitive.” The path became more narrow, steeper in sections, with lots more rocks, roots and even a couple of switchbacks. Bikes were in out in force and there were plenty of spots I had to move over so as not to get run over.
The Grand Trail reconnected with Laurel Ridge, and surprisingly did not get “easier” despite changing difficulty (according to the park.) There were lots of ups and downs. As for wildlife, I only spotted one deer, numerous squirrels (which I thought were stalking me) and a chipmunk or two. Above I could see some hawks circling overhead. Here’s what the sky looked like:
There was a short trail off Laurel Ridge that led to an overlook. As the park overlooks the Navesink River and Claypit Creek, I figured I would take the trail to see what the overlook actually overlooked:
Yep, I’ll have to come back in later Fall, Winter, or Spring to see what the overlook shows.
I remember hiking this section of Hartshorne Woods over 30 years ago with my dad. There were spots I walked through that were vaguely familiar, more like deja vu. I don’t remember bikes back then. And I don’t know how much of the Eastern part of the park was part of the park system.
All in all, this was a great hike on a great day. Highly recommended. However, I will point out, there were two trail junctions that I had to get out my phone and check AllTrails for; as the signage on trail was not good. The map didn’t help as the junctions had unmarked trails coming in as well – something I’ve remembered from past Monmouth County Parks. The trails lead well enough into the woods that you lose the traffic noise of Navesink Avenue and Route 36. And, only occasionally did I hear the banner planes towing their signs to Sandy Hook.
Huber Woods was one of the first of the Monmouth county parks that I hiked – this was a park I have been to a bunch of times, but not to hike. On a sunny Sunday with the afternoon free I decided to log some miles in Huber Woods. The trails here are pretty wide, dirt trails, with very minimal hills.
I started off crossing the field and hopping on the Fox Hollow trail, a very gentle, easy trail. This was pleasant to hike and headed into the woods. After a short bit, I merged onto the Valley View trail, which would encompass most of the hike. This trail gradually went down the back side of the hill, meeting up with Claypit Run, which heads off towards the Navesink River and the Claypit Creek section of Hartshorne Woods. This area of the park, though, exemplifies one of the bigger issues I’ve found in the Monmouth County park system: There are lots of unmarked trails leading off of main trails. It’s not that complicated, but if you are not careful you can get off your intended trail. Further, at trail junctions, it would help if there were better signage, and or more blazes.
I took Valley View, and my plan was to make a right on Many Log Run, which is a loop. I went by an unmarked trail/junction, and my spidey sense said to make a turn. No signs or blazes though, and I couldn’t see anything down the trail. I kept going. After making a small loop, I realized where I should have been, kept walking and made the right turn. Many Log Run had more hilly terrain and was a little more challenging. At the far western edge, you get close to the road, and can hear cars. I took Many Log Run to Meadow Ramble, and took that to Fox Hollow.
I got back to the field and could see the path back to the parking lot; however, I felt good and wanted to walk a little further. The nature loop was in front of me so I took it – a half mile jaunt on a loop with lots of samples of what you would see in the rest of the park. There were some interesting trees on the trail.
Finally, I decided I had had enough. It was back through the field and towards the parking lot.
I like the Monmouth County park System, the trails are nice, well thought out, challenging in some places, and great for an afternoon jaunt. My only wish is that there were better marking in the forms of blazes and junction signs. Unmarked trails, if they are maintained, should be added to maps.
Of all the Monmouth County parks that I’ve walked in, this has probably been my favorite. I liked the walk along the water, and due to the moisture and water, there were some tricky spots to the trail. Shark River Park is known for wet trails. Also, of the Monmouth county parks, Shark River Park had the least amount of unmarked trails. Many of the trail junctions were not marked, and fortunately the map was detailed enough that you are not likely to get off track.
I started this walk using the River’s Edge trail which meanders parallel to the Shark River. You will begin by walking along Schoolhouse Road until you come to the bridge over the river. At this point, follow the trail into the woods and along the river.
The trail is rated more difficult, and compared to other trails in the park, that statement would be true. There were plenty of wet spots along the trail that would take some navigating. And, there were hills with fashioned stairs to climb over.
The River’s Edge trail ran into the Hidden Creek trail, and at the junction I made a right. The Hidden Creek trail was relatively flat, but there were spots with big puddles that presented a minor challenge. I stayed on the Hidden Creek trail until I came to a junction with the Pine Hills trail. This trail is a loop trail, which was a nice diversion as it was dry compared to the rest of the trails in the park. Finishing the loop, I jumped back on the Hidden Creek trail.
I was only on the Hidden Creek trail for a short bit before I jumped on the Cedar Loop trail which headed back to trailhead. This trail, while flat and easy the whole way, had spots that were really wet and particularly challenging to cross.