Bass River State Forest – Lake Absegami area

Park Site

Trail map

Hike Distance: 8.75 miles

Trails:  Poppy Allen (yellow), Falkinburg (purple), CCC (orange)

My Map:

Average temperature for this hike was around 35 degrees, and the wind was blowing.  There were flurries every so often but  no accumulation.  I did this hike as a figure-eight, sort of.  Both loops were hiked clockwise.

Before I started the trail, I checked out Lake Absegami and the beach area.  At the time of this writing there is construction on a new pavilion, but it is still possible to walk down to the water.  Plans are for the construction to be completed by summer of 2023.

Lake Absegami

After viewing the lake, it was time to start the hike.  By the water, the wind was really whipping, but in the trees, you did not feel it as much.  You could hear the wind, sort of like background noise.

Most of the trails were wide, compact sand.  In a couple of spots the trail was the loose, deep, sugar sand.  And there were some places where you hike on sand roads.  There is almost no elevation gain throughout the whole forest, though that is to be expected hiking in the Pine Barrens.

The Poppy Allen trail takes you right alongside a group campsite; that was busy today with a Boy Scout troop.  I would later run into the scouts out on a hike.  “Poppy” Allen was the first caretaker of Bass River State Forest.

Pixie cup lichens

Every so often you hike into Pine tree plantations, where the trees are somewhat growing close together.  It was in these biomes where it was the most peaceful.

All the trails in this State Forest were well marked.  There are lots of side trails, woods roads, and sand roads; but if you stay on the trail (and keep your map handy) you will not get lost.  What I liked especially:  Whenever there was a turn, there was a blaze with an arrow telling you which way to turn, and then a blaze immediately after the turn for you to pick up the trail.  And all junctions are well blazed.

After turning onto the Faulkinburg trail, the trail sort of parallels the Garden State Parkway.  This was one of two places where there is a bit of road noise.  The trail actually comes pretty close to the roadway.

Soon enough it cuts back into the woods.

At the big junction of trails (in the center of the figure-eight in my map) is a sign announcing one of the tree plantations.  There are many in the forest, all planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s.

From this junction I jumped on the CCC trail for the western part of my journey.  This crosses East Greenbush road.  Where it crosses, I was able to get a picture of the Bass River Fire tower and another plantation.

The forest in this section was my favorite of them all.  The trees are HUGE.  It is extremely quiet and peaceful in this section.  I could have sat there for hours, except it was 37 degrees and the wind was blowing.  Maybe in the summer.  Definitely a magical place.

The trail winds its way towards the Bass River.  I did not have a view of the river, but I could see houses lining it.  There are some marshy, boggy areas, and that is perfect conditions for a cedar grove.

At the northern part of this loop you will come to ruins of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

And just past the ruins you will come to the Forest Fighter Memorial which has signage regarding two major forest fires; and memorializes lost firefighters in those wildfires.  I had been to this memorial driving home from Batsto Village.

 

Eastern Teaberry

Coming back to the main junction, I followed the CCC trail back to my car.  The trail follows the park road and goes over a small bridge.  From the bridge I could see the southern portion of Lake Absegami.

And across the road, I could see where the lake drained into Faulkinburg branch.

I didn’t know that there were campsites here, so I will have to return to check out the camping.  Certainly, it won’t be long backpacking, but it is close enough to home to warrant checking out.

Chiggers:  NONE, thankfully

Blazes:

Hiked:  1/14/2023

Merrill Creek Reservoir

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  7.99 Miles

Trails:  Perimeter, Yellow, Blue, Orange

My Map:

I did this hike clockwise.  I was the third car in the parking lot (at the visitors center parking lot) but there were many more cars when I finished.  Just as I parked it started snowing out, really, just flurries.  It would flurry a couple of times on the hike; though there was no accumulation.  There were plenty of printed trail maps at the kiosk which I haven’t seen in quite a while.

From the visitors center lot, I walked down to the boat ramp.  One boat was on the water fishing.  There is a bulletin board of all the large fish taken from the reservoir.

If you are hiking clockwise, the path will be wide, flat, and mostly crushed stone.  For this whole portion of the hike there are great views of the reservoir – for much of the time you are no further than 20 yards from the water’s edge.

While walking the Perimeter trail, there are convenient markers that tell you how far you have walked.

The first dike I came to was the SE Dike.  I was not prepared for crossing the dikes and dams.  All of the hiking is in the woods, except for the dikes and dams.  While crossing the dikes and dams you will be exposed to the wind, and it was pretty cold.  And because of that, I typically just kept crossing and didn’t stop for too long.  I did take this picture looking across the reservoir.

After taking this picture, a shadow started covering me.  I looked up to see a bald eagle heading towards me.  It was the first bald eagle I would see (I saw a second about an hour later) and those birds are big.  He flew off into the trees.  I didn’t know it at the time, there are numerous eagle nesting areas throughout the reservoir.

The dam is much larger than the dikes, and looking down the land-side of the dam, it drops pretty far.  There was a stairway that headed down, but it was closed off – and I doubt I would have tried it – it is a steep stairwell.

Here’s a view off the dam looking southwest.

A little further down the dam I could see something swimming towards the rocks.  I thought it was a beaver, but the tail was too skinny.  It came to the edge, scrambled up some of the rocks, then saw me.  He would dart in and out of the rocks playing hide and seek.  I finally got a picture.  It’s zoomed in, so not the best.  But you can see an otter in front of a horizontal log.

After crossing the dam, the trail heads off into the woods and becomes more of a traditional trail.  The trail moves further away from the reservoir but at times comes close to a road.  Fortunately, there are not many cars zooming along.

There’s a nice “beach” to stop at.

 

Lesser Perriwinkles

After you pass the parking lot that connects to Fox Farm Road, the Perimeter trail joins with the Warren Highlands Trail.  You will stay on this trail until the parking lot for the Inlet / Outlet Tower.

Just before I took the next picture I would see another eagle flying off towards the center of the reservoir.

False Turkeytail

There are numerous areas throughout the reservoir where there are stands of pine trees.

After crossing a footbridge I decided to veer away from the reservoir and explore some of the other trails and ruins.  When you get to the “colored” trails, you will find signs and maps at every trail junction.  You shouldn’t get lost in this area of the park.

I veered off on the orange trail that parallels the Upper Merrill Creek.

This section of the park is very damp and muddy.  Further, the little bridges over the wetter sections were treacherously slippery.  I thank the Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops that installed the bridges, but they were treacherous today.

Here’s a picture of the ruins of the Upper Beers Farm.

Further down the Blue trail, are ruins of the Lime Kiln.

As I traveled down the Blue trail, I came across ruins of the Spring House.

Finally, as I got closer to the Visitors Center, I came across a stand of real large pine trees.  It was dark and really quiet and had a great view of the water.

This is a great park to hike.  There are a couple of hills, but nothing terribly steep or for too long.  The northwest section of the park has more traditional trails and it is in this section that you will find more rocks.  I thoroughly loved seeing the eagles and to see an otter, I’ve read that snow geese migrate here and are a great site to see as well.

Blazes:

Hiked: 1/7/2023

Hartshorne Woods – Command Loop, Grand Tour, Cuesta Ridge

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  3.59 Miles

Trails:  Command Loop, Grand Tour, Cuesta Ridge

My Map:

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.

Asiatic Dayflower

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.

Roundleaf Greenbriar

Ticks: 0

Spotted Lanternflies:  0

Blazes:

Hiked:  8/14/2022

Musconetcong Gorge Preserve

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  7.56 miles

Trails:  Orange, Blue, Yellow, White, and some unmarked trails

My Map:

It was a gorgeous day, getting into the mid 80s.  I wore pants with zip off legs thinking if it got too hot, I could take the legs off.  However, it rained a little last night, and the Orange trail was wet, and overgrown.  I’m glad I left the legs on.

After parking, I hiked the Orange trail as an out and back.  Before 519, it’s a nice trail, well maintained.

After crossing 519, there are stretches of the trail that are extremely overgrown.  And there were numerous spider webs crossing the trail; I felt like Indy going after the idol.

There are a couple of spots where the trail opens up.

The trail ends while passing a cornfield just by a road.  The Highlands Trail keeps going, but I was not cutting through the overgrowth.  There was a nice view, and a great breeze by the cornfield.

Naked-flowered Tick Trefoil

Back at my car, I jumped on the Yellow Trail (which is part of the Highlands Trail as well.)  This trail climbed to the top of a ridge and followed the ridge for a while.  It was much easier to move with a day pack on as opposed to the backpacking pack.

Like last week, there were a lot of wineberries out.  This time, I channeled my inner bear, and gorged when I saw ripe berries.  Last week would have been the mother lode though.

The first stream crossing is Scout Run, which had lots of water flowing through.

All throughout the ridge top I saw toads scurrying about and made sure not to step on them.

The highest point on the ridge will have a great view once the leaves are off the trees.

I followed the Yellow trail until the next stream crossing at Pine Run.  Instead of crossing, I took the White (?) trail down to the old rail bed.

This trail is not on the map.  And the trail is pretty much straight down to the base of the gorge, with lots of rocks.  When I came to the base, there was yellow caution tape closing off the trail going up.  There was no tape at the top preventing anyone from coming down.  Here’s a shot looking up, the picture doesn’t do the steepness justice.  You can see the yellow caution tape to the right.

Walking on the old rail bed was pleasant.  There were plenty of wineberries, and the trail was pretty flat and smooth.

After a few minutes I could hear people down in the Musconetcong river.  There were loud yells, and then a crash.  I found a small spur trail that headed in that direction, it had one steep section I sort of slid down.  The trail came out at a dam, where people were using the dam as a water slide to go down and fall into a big pool.  There was enough water that kayaks were going down as well.  I would have loved to have tried it, but I had no idea the dam was here and I wasn’t getting soaked without a good way to dry off.  I watched one kayak go down, and it was awesome.

Someone at the dam suggested I take an old trail that split a stream and the river back towards the car.  It would go by the old paper mill and factory, so I changed my plans and followed that path.

The stream on the left was really nice, and supposedly had fish.

The trail went over a small set of falls where the stream fell towards the river.

I passed the paper mill in the woods and found the old abandoned factory.

Butterfly Bush

However, I was now off trail and needed to find my way back.  I found a small spur trail that looked like it would head back towards the trail to the car.  Sure enough, I found the trail I was looking for, but I had to cross an old rickety dam first in order to reach the marked trail.

Eventually I found my way back to the car.  Coming back, I’m packing for swimming and sliding down the dam.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  7/30/2022

Backpacking Round Valley Recreation Area

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 14 Miles

Trails:  Cushetunk (red), Campground (yellow on the map, but I never saw a blaze.)

My map:

A note on my map.  You can see at the top left, the recording stopped.  I don’t know if that was due to my phone (likely) or AllTrails (also likely.)  This is the second time this has happened where I’ve had an incomplete map.

I had decided to take the Cushetunk trail as far as I could to my campsite, 73, then take the Campground trail back to the Cushetunk to hike out.  There were a couple of spots where I questioned life’s decisions; one going up Cushetunk mountain.  It didn’t stop going up – and it was only 833 feet.  The other spot was the return trip, there are some stairs by the construction work at the dam.  It wasn’t that bad, it’s just that it was 90, and I had done 11 or so miles at that point.

Milkweed

After a half mile into the hike there is a great overlook of the reservoir, right across from the ranger station.

All of the trails were lined with Wineberries.  I didn’t know at the time that they are edible (they are) but I should have known when I saw people at the beginning of the trail picking bags full of them.  They were all over the place.  I should have sampled.  I didn’t see bears this weekend, but bears could have gotten fat on the amount of wineberries I saw.

Wineberry

Butterfly Milkweed

The Cushetunk trail diverts around ongoing construction around the dam.  The trail comes across Hannon – Saurland pond.  There are tons of signs telling you not to swim.  EVEN with the heat of the hike, you couldn’t pay me to jump in this pond.

The reservoir, sure, I jumped in that.

There’s a stretch of the Cushetunk trail that follows a rock wall.

Eventually I came to a gate on the Cushetunk trail, and I had to jump on the Campground trail; which was my plan to get to the campsite.

Home for the night

Before setting up camp, I took a walk down to the water.

Spotted Knapweed

As usual, since I haven’t figured out panoramas, or how to stitch the pictures together, you’ll have to make do.  The three pictures are left-to-right, of the reservoir.

Here’s the “trail” back to the campsite.

There was plenty of shade, and a constant breeze which kept the temperatures down.

My view of the reservoir from camp.

Before bed, I walked down to the reservoir to see the sun set.  Other campers did as well.  I could have stayed longer to capture the red sky, but I wanted to make sure I could get back to camp.

I woke up cold, it was 69 in the morning, with the breeze blowing.

I decided to start hiking back while the sun was not yet over the ridge.  Here’s a shot of the Campground trail.

Eventually, though, the sun would come out blazing.  It was already 90 when I got back to my car just after 10 in the morning.

This was a lot of fun, there were a lot of lessons learned.  I would definitely do it again, though I wouldn’t take the full Cushetunk trail, and I would get a camp site early on the Campground trail.

Ticks: 0

Lantern Flies:  5 (all dead – I saw more, but they fly fast.)

Blazes:

Hiked:  7/23-24/2022

Hartshorne Woods – Rocky Point and Battery Loop

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 5.74 miles

Trails:  Rocky Point, Battery Loop, Black Fish Cove

My Map:

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.

Kudzu

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.

Mock Strawberry
Cracked Cap Polypore

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.

Asiatic Dayflower

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.

Wineberry

The Battery Loop trail was lined with a bumper crop of Common Mugwort.

Common Yarrow
White Campion

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 took a walk down the trail downrange from the guns and hiked the Battery loop back to my car.

I like the improvements that have been made in Hartshorne Woods.  I plan on coming back again and hiking some of the trails in the center of the park that I haven’t hiked.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  7/16/2022

Garret Mountain Reservation

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 3.1 miles

Trails:  Yellow

My Map:

I should have gone out on Saturday but the weather called for storms all day.  It didn’t rain here.  But I didn’t hike.  I know I won’t get out for a couple of weeks, so I picked Garret Mountain Reservation to hike.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and pulling into the park, there were 100s of people all walking the road.  It was packed.

I walked the yellow trail, which essentially parallels the road, but is off in the “woods.”  The nice thing about the yellow trail is that I left all the people on the road.  This was the first park I  had seen horses on trail in quite a while.

Greenspot Nightshade

I walked counter-clockwise, so my first landmark would be Barbour’s pond.

The other good thing about Garret Mountain Reservation is the Yellow trail keeps you off the pavement.

I did not actually summit Garret Mountain, as the trail follows the road around the park.  Further, access to Lambert  Castle was blocked off, and I would have like to have visit; even if I could not go inside.

There was plenty of deer; probably too many.  Lots of chipmunks making noise too.

Heading north on the eastern side of the park had some gorgeous views, mostly because it was early and not hazy yet.

The observation tower grounds were open, but you could not climb the tower.

Garret Mountain Reservation is a nice park.  I could not begin to pick up litter, there was far too much.  There is plenty of road noise, and you will hear many planes as well.  But, for a short jaunt, this was a nice destination.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

For a brief stretch the Morris Canal Greenway is on the yellow trail

Hiked:  7/4/2022

 

Worthington State Forest – Sunfish Pond loop, via Fairview

Park Site

Trail Map – park site, I used the NY NJ Trail Conference map 120

Hike Distance: 9.52 miles

Trails:  Fairview (yellow), AT (white), Buckwood (turqoise), Sunfish Fire Road, Dunnfield Creek (green), Holly Springs (red)

My Map:

For those wondering, this isn’t the typical Sunfish Pond loop.  That loop starts at the Dunnfield Creek lot, and uses the full sections of the Appalachian Trail and Dunnfield Creek trail (and may be a tad longer too.)  I wanted to stay away from the circus of people and chose to head to the Fairview lot off of Old Mine Road.  When I pulled in around 8:20, I was the second car in the lot, and the first left while I was lacing up my boots.  When I drove by the two hiker lots (of which one is the Dunnfield Creek lot) they were already mostly full.  When I finished my hike, there was one other car in the lot.  That’s not to say I didn’t see people; I saw a bunch of thru-hikers on the AT.  But I “missed out” on the huge crowds at Mt. Tammany.

When I arrived at the Gap, there were lots of low clouds.  Fortunately, once the sun came out it burned off all the clouds and became a great day.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Fairview trail, though coming back I did not get to hike the whole Dunnfield Creek trail – and that’s a trail I really like.

Starting up the Fairview trail, the trail is nice and wide.  At this time of year, there is lots of green,with ferns out all over the place.

The sun burned off the clouds early.

Red Eft

I passed a couple of spots with bear droppings, one really fresh.  But alas, no bear sightings today.

I quickly came to the junction with the Appalachian Trail, and found this marking on the ground.  1300.  I’m assuming miles, but I don’t know from which end.

The trails seemed damp, as if it had rained the night before.  I don’t recall getting rain the day before.  However, the mushrooms were out.

Brittlegills

In case you have forgotten, or just don’t know what the AT is like in New Jersey…here is a typical section:

After stopping at the backpacker campsite to check things out, I quickly made it to Sunfish Pond.  I had hiked this route close to 40 years ago, and I just don’t remember Sunfish Pond at all.  On this day, it was gorgeous.  The only sound were the frogs, and there were plenty.  Here is Sunfish Pond, looking East.

I followed the Appalachian Trail along the northern edge – be advised there’s a small amount of rock scrambling at water’s edge.  I took the Buckwood trail to continue going around the pond, as the AT heads north towards Raccoon Ridge.  There is an overlook on the Buckwood trail that is (in my opinion) one of the best views of Sunfish Pond.  It looks west, back from where I came.

Those clouds in the distance did start to build, but by the time I left the park, nothing had happened.

A little early…maybe a week or two. Blueberries.
Yellow Patches

I was worried about what the Sunfish Fire Road would look like, as it is not “blazed” and that was my connection to the Dunnfield Creek Trail.  I needn’t worried, it was not only pretty obvious, but signed.  Further, the fire road is wide and pleasant to walk.

The junction with the Dunnfield Creek trail leads uphill, to the point of my highest elevation.  And I’m glad I did the hike in the direction I did, as I would not have wanted to climb that hill with all the rocks.  Going down was tough enough.  I like the Dunnfield Creek trail, especially when it joins Dunnfield Creek.  Be advised that there are a handful of stream crossings; all pretty easy as I had rocks sticking up above water.  It could be a different story with higher water.

I almost stepped on this guy.

Mountain Laurel was still blooming; in some spots more than others.

Ghost Pipes

The junction with the Holly Springs trail is pretty muddy.  And it’s uphill almost all the way back to the junction with the AT and the Fairview trail.

All in all, this was a great hike.  It was hot, the car said 84 when I returned to it.  And it was a little muggy.  I’m glad I chose the Fairview lot (and trail) as the Dunnfield Creek lots were jammed when I returned, I assume cars were in the overflow lot on the other side of Route 80.

Ticks: 1

Blazes:

Hiked: 6/25/2022

 

Perrineville Lake County Park

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 8.26 miles

Trails:  Lakeside Loop, Rocky Brook, Quail Run

My Map:

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.

Perrineville Lake

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.

Water Lillies
Sam

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.

Ghost Pipes

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.

Ticks: 1

Blazes:

(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.)

Hiked: 6/10/2022

 

Tourne County Park

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  6.73 miles

Trails:  Red, Yellow, Green, Purple, Teal, Pink, unblazed

My map:

It wasn’t hot to start out, 66 at the trailhead, but it certainly was hot (and a bit humid) when I returned to the lot.  The car said 90.  And it was very foggy early in the morning.  I wasn’t sure what I would be able to see.

I started on the red trail, where I would turn left onto yellow to head up the Tourne.  The trails around the Tourne are wide, crushed gravel roads.

Throughout the park I came across numerous benches, some small, and some of the larger type that had obviously been donated.  There names on the larger benches.

At the top of the Tourne, there are picnic benches.  Also, there is a memorial to 9/11.

Here’s the view, though there were two problems.  One, there was a thick fog, and two, there are too many leaves on the trees.  On a better day, you should be able to see the New York City skyline.

Look out Charlotte

And it seems there will be a bumper crop of poison ivy this year.

Dame’s Rocket

These flowers are really neat.  Unfortunately, with the heat and humidity, my camera didn’t focus well on them.

Pinkster flowers

Once you get off the Red trail, the trail surfaces become more “trail-like” and less “road-like.”  The Blue trail cuts through the woods and had some spongy wet spots.

Spring house foundations

The Blue trail joins back up with the Red trail and skirts along the eastern edge of Birchwood lake.  At this point, you are technically in Richard Wilcox Municipal Park, in the Borough of Mountain Lakes.

Birchwood Lake

You can see in that picture that the weather has finally cleared off, and it was noticeably warmer (and muggier) out.

I stayed on the Red trail which led back into Tourne County Park.

There was lots of False Turkey Tail out all over.

I took the Teal and Pink trails as a little detour from Red.  In this area I happened to run into some bikers.  Most of the people I ran into were near the Tourne.

Two Flower Dwarf Dandelion

Tourne County Park is a great park to hike in.  Aside from some unblazed trails and some junctions, the trails were marked well.  A couple of trails pass by housing.  I did not take the long White trail, and I’ll have to come back to investigate.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  5/21/2022