Hacklebarney State Park

Park Site

Trail Map – (as you can see by the picture above, the kiosk was a mess when I arrived around 9 in the morning.  Fortunately, I had a printout of the trail map.  When I finished the hike and returned by this kiosk, park rangers were neatening and restocking the maps.)

Distance:  3.66 miles

Trails:  Riverside -> Windy Ridge -> Main Trail -> Playground Trail -> Upland -> Main Trail

Map:

When I left the house in the morning there was bright sun.  Upon getting to Hacklebarney State Park it was cloudy and hovering around 51 degrees.  The forecast called for 60% chance of rain, but I wasn’t letting a chance of rain deter my first hike of the year.  I should probably pay more attention to forecasts, at least this wasn’t as bad as the Jockey Hollow hike last year.

I hiked my route counter-clockwise, when looking at the map, which started me on the Riverside trail.  This trail starts off on a pseudo paved trail until it descends to the river.  I noticed lots and lots of picnic tables and each table had a charcoal grill by it.  Some of the tables by the water are pretty far from the lot, I’m wondering how many people schlep picnics that far.  Also, I noticed numerous water fountains – none in operation.  Note:  on this day, the only restrooms open were at the trailhead.  Both of the other restrooms were closed.

Heading off the Main trail, onto Riverside:

Crossing Trout Brook:

I really liked this portion of the trail (despite the pavement) due to walking by the brook.  It’s pretty loud and can be heard from a good distance.

Spring is trying to come forth (even though it was 51 when I took this picture.)

Before reaching the Black River, there is a little rock scramble down to Trout Brook to see the falls.

You really get a sense of the trail surface from this next picture.  And yes, you had to squeeze through the fallen trees to continue.

For 90% of the hike, I noticed many many downed trees.  (The one above was recent.)  Upon coming to a sign at the end of the hike, I learned that most of the trees fell during Sandy.  And, the sign continued, there was work ongoing (though not today) to clear dead trees such that invasive species did not take the spots of the fallen trees.  Interesting.

The Black River was great to hike along.

That would be it for the paved trails though until I climbed back up closer to the parking lot.  Along the Black River the Riverside Trail became a rock scramble, a bit more strenuous than the pavement.

It was like that for almost a mile.  Today, while hiking this stretch, I noticed many fishermen along both banks.  Apparently, there is good trout fishing in the Black River – which was stocked on Friday.

Partway down the Black River I came to bridge where Trout Brook fed into the Black River.

More rocks.

A little further along I came to Rhinehart Brook which was smaller than Trout Brook.  I could see cascades up the brook.

And here is where Rhinehard Brook joins the Black River.

At this point I noticed it was starting to rain.  Fortunately, leaves were sprouting from the trees, and not much rainfall was reaching the forest floor.  I could hear it though.

At the southern end of the park were two pillars marking the park boundary.  If you kept walking past the pillars you entered land belonging to the Black River Fish and Game Club.  It is adequately marked.  I walked far enough to take this picture.

From here I took the Riverside Trail until it crossed Rhinehart Brook and I joined the Windy Ridge Trail.  While shorter, there was a steep section that started the climb back.  I hiked the trail to its junction with the Main Trail.  Here, I detoured on to the green trail heading towards the Upland Trail, by a playground.  I had read on other blogs that there was an observation tower.

Found it.

And what could you see?

I doubt if the overcast hid anything.  I wasn’t sure what the tower was actually pointed at.  Anyway, it was back on the Upland Trail heading back to the Main Trail that I would take to the parking lot.

I heard a rustle, and realizing I was in bear country, I scanned around.

Later on Upland Trail, up in some trees

A giant turkey vulture.  I kept walking.

This was a great hike, despite the light rain that fell at the end and the paved portions of trails.  If the whole thing had been paved I would have been disappointed.  But the sections along Trout Brook and the Black River were awesome.  I am definitely coming back on a sunny day, and possibly in the fall to see the colors.  I suspect it will be much more crowded, but I think it will be worth it.  Trails were well marked and easy to follow.

Ticks: 0

Hiked:  4/28/2019

Cheesequake State Park – Yellow and Blue (with a little Red)

Park Site

Trail Map  <- important, see below

Distance:  3 Miles

Trails:  Yellow -> Blue -> Red

Map:

Saturday, December 29th was a warm day for December.  I had some time to kill in the afternoon and ended up at Cheesequake State Park to hike the Blue trail, which I had not hiked previously.  My original plans were to hike on Sunday, but I saw potential rain, and lower temperatures in the forecast.  I left my house around 1:00 p.m. so I knew I couldn’t do anything real long.  Temperatures were in the middle 50s, and it started out sunny, but became overcast as the afternoon wore on.

Driving to the parking lot, I came across this sign:

However, when I got to the lot, I discovered it packed.  And, throughout the afternoon I noticed the same thing, the trails were packed.  There were more people on the trails than I had probably seen on trails all year.  I get it, the last Saturday of the year, people had been together all week, mild temperatures, sun….definitely a great day to get out.  Fortunately, I neither saw or heard hunters.

I started out on the Yellow trail which I had hiked before, it’s rather short, and makes for a good warmup.  Without leaves on the trees, there were good views of Hooks Creek Lake.

“They” say that 2018 has been one of the wettest years on record for our area.  There was rain on Friday, but for the most part trails were ok (except as noted below.)  However, creeks and streams were all gurgling.

There were numerous spots along the trails where good-sized puddles existed, some puddles had deep water.  Many times there were enough rocks or roots that you could effectively hop across.  This would not be the case in the picture below, and little creative bushwhacking would be in order.

There was one place where you had to be careful, and that was coming down some of the hills.  Leaves had gathered near the roots of trees, and you had be careful stepping into them; as you didn’t know how deep the pile would be.  Only once did I almost stumble, probably before this picture as it is what prompted me to take the picture.  The picture doesn’t do the hill justice – not that they were real tall or steep, but the picture is taken looking downhill.

Walking through the woods was peaceful.  And, I was in an area of Cheesequake I had not hiked before.  The sun came out as I reached Perrine Pond, where I stopped to enjoy the sun.  I had a fleece on and it was perfect for the temperatures.

Here’s where it got a little tricky.  I had printed out an old(er) map of Cheesequake (one I used on a previous hike) and was following Blue around the pond.  When, all of a sudden:

I was not attempting to ford that.  Retracing my steps, I came to where the previous picture of Perrine Pond was taking.  At the waterfowl blind, I realized the trail went left.  More signs noting that turn would be helpful.  And, removing the signs on Blue to where the trail stops would be helpful as well.  Although, along that route was an osprey nest and nice views of the marshland.  Worth the extra walk.

No real problem, I followed Blue around the near edge of the pond, found where it met up with the “old” trail, then followed the old trail to see the other side of where it ended:

This is why, if you look at my AllTrails trail map, above; you will notice I almost completely encircle Perrine Pond.  In the map that I link to, the trail is correctly annotated.

I followed Blue until I came upon the “Great Junction” of Blue, Green, and Red.  I have hike Green in the past, noticed that Blue follows Perrine Road back to the parking lot, so called an audible and walked on Red.  Red sort of paralleled the road, then met up with Green, and was familiar at this point.

All in all it was a great hike and I was pleased to get out.  While the trails were crowded there were still plenty of spots of solitude and silence.  I saw the usual squirrel militia, no dear, and a couple of hawks.

Ticks: 0

Hiked:  12/29/2018

Cheesequake State Park

Cheesequake State Park was a park I had visited many many moons ago as part of a Boy Scout campout.  I only remember one part of the trail (which I would pass through on this hike) and I remember that it rained.  I remember not wanting to camp in the rain after that.  On this day, the sun was out – it was in the 60s, which made for great hiking weather.  As it was before Memorial Day, there were no fees, and the parking lot was not that full.

The plan for the day was to do the Yellow Trail into the Green trail.  All trails here are well marked, the trails are easy to walk, with only a couple of hills.  Junctions are well marked both with signs and blazes, so you are not likely to make any mistakes.  Trails cross access roads, and they are very easy to pick up on the other side of the road.  There were benches every so often, which is a nice touch for those who want a quick rest.

My favorite part of the hike was the section of the Green trail that was made up of boardwalks.  This section of the park was pretty swampy, and there were some sections that bordered on the creek with lots of water.

After the boardwalks, the trail goes through a section of White Pine trees that is really nice.  Before coming up to the campground, the trail goes by the Giant Beech tree.

Before the Beech Tree, and while you are heading back towards the trail head, there is a section with a couple of hills.  Certainly, there is not a lot of altitude, but after walking a couple of miles of flat trails, the hills add some strenuous activity.

I had a lot of fun at Cheesequake and look forward to coming back to do some of the other trails.  Having only walked the Yellow and Green trails, there are other sections and trails to explore.

Hiked:  4/14/2017

 

Allaire State Park – Brisbane Trail

My son had a hockey practice just down the road from Allaire State Park one evening, I figured I could get a hike in while he practiced.  His practice was at 6, I was only doing a little under 3 miles, flat terrain, nothing too difficult.  Lesson learned, give yourself a little more time than you think you actually need.  I walk at a pretty good clip, I needed to start a little earlier.  For this hike, I walked the Brisbane trail, which is listed at 2.8 miles.  To get to the trailhead, I drove past the main entrance on Atlantic Avenue to a pulloff down the road a bit on the right.

The trail started off as a concrete trail that you will share with bicyclists, joggers and lots of other people, as it heads towards the main entrance to the park.  When I started, the sun was still up, and it was a gorgeous evening.

You will walk by the meadows of Allaire State Park, and be heading in a direction towards the old village.  The trail, though, crosses Atlantic Avenue, and eventually turns into the soft surface of sand and dirt.

While there are lots of people using the park and visiting, I did not see many people when I headed off into the woods after crossing Atlantic Avenue.  (I walked the trail clockwise.)  There was one brief section in the northwest “corner” of the trail where the trail meanders close to and along the eastbound side of Route 195.  It is at this point that there is a fair amount of noise from the traffic along 195.  Once the trail heads southeast, you will lose the car noise and go back to solitude.

Once the trail curves southwest you will be in the home stretch.  It is at this point that I noticed it was starting to get dark.  As in, seriously dark.  While the sun wasn’t fully down yet, it was certainly below treetop level.  I picked up the pace.  You can tell in the following picture, I’m still in the woods.

I eventually made it back to Atlantic Avenue.  The following picture was only taken about ten minutes from the one above, but I’m out of the woods and close to the lot.  I was trying to capture the fireflys that were out.

This was a great hike and a great park to hike in.  There are lots of other trails, though certain sections of the park are heavily used by mountain bikes.  Parking in the pulloff will save you park fees in-season.  The trail was well marked and easy to follow – trail maps are available online.

Hiked:  7/18/2017