Forest Resource Education Center

(This from the Pine Acre Drive entrance)

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 5.7 miles

Trails:  Yellow, Red, Blue (parts)

Map:

Edit:  Today is National Take A Hike Day, I knew about this in the past, but had forgotten when I set out today.

This was the first hike in a while, the hazards of hockey season.  And what a day:  42 degrees, cloudy, and windy.  I can’t remember where I heard of this park, but I was glad for a relatively close hike.  I wanted to hike starting at the southern section and I drove down Bowman Road where I had seen a parking lot on the map, but I couldn’t find the pull-off/parking area.  I didn’t know it was down Pine Acre Drive (pictures below.)  In fact, the kiosk picture is from that entrance.  Not finding the entrance, I drove to the Education Center (closed on a Sunday) and modified my hike.

There was one other car in the parking lot, and that gentleman was returning from a walk down the Sensory Trail.  I started with the Yellow (Pine Acre) trail and headed off.  Trails are wide, sandy, and at this time, covered with leaves and pine needles – super comfy to walk.

You have to keep your eyes open, horses can use the trail.

A couple of shots from the trail:

On a cold blustery day, this was the only color I saw:

Hunting is allowed in some areas, I did not see or hear any hunters, but I did see the following:

When I reached the southern entrance to the yellow trail, I took some pictures so I would know where to return to should I want to use this entrance.  Pine Acre Drive is right next to two houses off of Bowman Road, it doesn’t look like much of a road and it is certainly overgrown.

The Yellow trail deposits you back in the parking lot, so I headed off to the Red trail which is named the Firewise trail.  This path was crushed gravel and had numerous interpretive displays.

There were numerous Blue Bird houses with anti-squirrel baffles.  The Blue Birds prey on some of the invasive insects in the area.

On a cold blustery day, this was a good hike, taking me about two hours.  While the trails are well marked, there are other paint markings which I’m not sure what they were marking.  Also, there are numerous forest roads and intersecting trails that are not marked.  However, if you follow the blazes, you shouldn’t get lost.  Bear in mind, the Yellow trail crosses Don Connor Boulevard a couple of times – the road could be busy, but was not on this Sunday.  There was no road noise, and I did not hear any planes overhead either.  I heard a couple of birds, but saw no other wildlife.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked: 11/17/2019

National Parks Free on Veterans Day

I was checking the National Parks Service page on Free Days and I see that on Monday, November 11, 2019, Veterans Day, National Parks will be free.

Those of you with National Parks near by will be able to take advantage of free trails for the day.

Here in New Jersey, we have the following National Parks:

  • The Appalachian Trail  (multiple states)
  • Crossroads of the American Revolution
  • The Delaware Water Gap
  • Ellis Island
  • Gateway National Recreation Area (Sandy Hook, in New Jersey)
  • Great Egg Harbor
  • Lower Delaware
  • Morristown National Historic Park
  • New Jersey Pinelands
  • Patterson Falls
  • Thomas Edison National Historic Park
  • Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route  (multiple states)

There are many miles of trails to walk and lots of history to absorb.

Weltz Park

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  1.99 Miles

Trails:  Sweetbriar Trail, Eastern Loop, and an unmarked trail

Map:

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:

Now what?

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.

Ticks:  0

Blazes (I think I captured every signpost on the trails.  There are no actual blazes):

Hiked:  9/1/2019

 

 

Bear Mountain State Park – Major Welch Trail and the Appalachian Trail

Park Site

Trail Map

Distance:  3.6 Miles

Trails – Major Welch going up, Appalachian Trail coming down

Map:

This hike has been on my list for a while.  What’s interesting is that I remember going by the park when I was little when we would visit my grandparents.  We would take the Palisades Parkway to the Bear Mountain bridge, cross, and take 9D up.  But, it’s been a long long time since I had been up this way.  Leaving the house a little after 8:00, skies were clear, the sun was out, and it was the middle 70s.  When I got to the park, it was already in the middle 80s.  My plan of attack was to go up the Major Welch as I had heard that there was some rock scrambling on the way up.  Oh, there was.  Just look at the map:  after you go by the lake, and turn off the paved trail, you can see how many contour lines I crossed in a short amount of time.

A little foreshadowing:

I’m pretty sure this guy was circling overhead when I was part way through the rocks.  I think he was just getting a count of how many walked by so he could triage lunch.

Some shots of walking by Hessian Lake:

It was walking on pavement around the lake.  Make sure the lake is immediately to your right – the trail head isn’t the most intuitive.

Here’s where the trail leaves the pavement and the lake.  Read the sign.  That’s the longest 1.5 miles I think I’ve ever walked.  Of course, I started to blow through the rocks when I left the pavement – it wasn’t that bad.

There were some (short) sections that were pretty flat.

There were lots and lots of those stairs.  And yes, they took a toll.

After an immediate left turn, the fun began.  I like rock scrambling as much as the next guy; but wow, this went on for a while – or so it seemed/felt.  These next pictures just don’t do it justice.  There were multiple sections of these immense boulders to scramble up.  And in the heat, it got tiring.

I only managed two pictures.  There were more sections.  At this point there were three or four groups of us leap frogging each other as we passed through the scrambles.  At one point, though, a young woman came RUNNING by us.  She blew by us like we were standing still (we were.)  Just before the top, the trail crosses Perkins Drive, and it’s a nice place to stop and get a drink.  The groups I was with all commented on how someone was RUNNING up that trail.

After crossing the road, and one more scramble, the trail flattens for a bit.

Don’t be surprised at the top, Perkins  Drive stops at the fire tower for people to picnic.  The looks I got when I came out of the woods were priceless.  Probably the best part, there was a soda machine selling  Powerade, maybe the best $3 I have ever spent.  I had plenty of water, but I needed something else.

I looked at the fire tower for a good ten minutes.  After coming up that grueling trail, did I really want to climb the steps to the top to see the view?  No.  But when was I coming back – so of course I climbed.  And I’ll admit, the view was nice.  Supposedly, you could see four states from the top.  But I needed to eat, and finish that Powerade.

My eating rock:

After a good long rest, it was down the Appalachian Trail.

Don’t kid yourself.  Yes, it’s crushed gravel, all the way down – a welcome respite from what I climbed going up.  However, there are a ton of stairs cut out of rock – which I really appreciate – but takes its toll on the way down.

There were a couple of viewpoints on the way down:

To give you an idea on the stairs, I took this picture looking back:

It’s really impressive how this portion of the Appalachian Trail was built.  And, when you reach the bottom, there are interpretive displays on building the trail, and some of the features that make up a trail.  I highly recommend stopping to see the displays.

Another great hike, though if I were to plan it again, I would wait until the temperatures have dropped a bit.  Be prepared when doing this hike.  Bring plenty of water (though there are vending machines at the top.)  And know that the rock scrambling truly is strenuous.  My final verdict:  I loved it, I’ll pay the price tomorrow, but it will be worth it.  One final note: the park was PACKED with people, so get there early.  I didn’t have a problem at 10:00 when I arrived, but I suspect parking would be a premium much after that.  (Side note, it was $10 to get in the park.)

Ticks: 0

(A new feature I’ll add going forward)

Blazes:

Major Welch:

Appalachian Trail:

(Missing:  the piece of the trail at the top, around the fire tower.  Markers had the Major Welch red circle above the AT white blaze.)

Hiked:  7/28/2019

 

Wells Mills Park – Penns Hill Trail

(Sorry, no picture of the trail kiosk, it looked like they were building a new one out in the parking lot. A picture of the nature center (closed) will have to do.)

Park Site

Trail Map

Distance:  8.4 miles

Trails – White (Some discrepancy here.  Signage in the park called this the Penns Hill Trail.  The map linked to the site calls it the Macri Trail.  Either way, I hiked white.)

Map:

I left home nice and early and had a good ride down to Wells Mills park.  I  knew this would be a longer hike, with good weather for once, and I knew it would take me longer.  For Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to beat any traffic.

It was gorgeous out, 75 and sunny.  Unfortunately, the Nature Center was closed due to the holiday, but there were still trail maps in the container up on the porch.  There were also a ton of carpenter bees buzzing all over the place; not a nuisance, but all over the place.  As there was no kiosk, I used the nature center as the starting point.  I went right, on the trail, and immediately entered woods, close to Wells Mills Lake.

This was some of my favorite part of the trail as there was lots of water and lots of bridges to cross.  We had rain the other day, but the trails were mostly dry; with only a few spongy spots later on.

Once the trail left the lake, it veered off to the northwest part of the park.  Here’s were there were hills (which I wasn’t really expecting.)  Walking in this area (at 10 in the morning) I distinctly heard gun fire – I don’t know if there was a range nearby, or someone hunting.  I doubt it was fireworks that early in the morning.

I enjoyed the fact that there were very distinct and different environments as you walked along.  The trail, for the most part, was dirt or sand, occasionally covered with pine needles – very forgiving.  Which was great on a longer walk.  One section of the park was hilly.  One section had a cedar forest.  There were lots of boardwalks.  One section contained thick Mountain Laurel.   And what would the Pine Barrens be without pitch pine.  For over eight miles, there was lots of diversity.

This next picture doesn’t do justice, this was a pretty steep hill, at the top of which was a bench – a perfect water break.

The map shows two hills: Penns Hill, with an elevation of 126 feet, and Laurel Hill, 130 feet.

Bon Jovi was here:

I heard lots of birds, caught a glimpse of a chipmunk or two; but that was about it for wildlife.

Right near the end of the hike I came across this sign:

I’m not sure how accurate the sign is, and it was the only mileage/distance sign I saw on the whole hike.  It was getting pretty hot (and I was getting tired) at this point, so I did not check my GPS.

The final bridge crossing was over Oyster Creek, which I crossed at least once before.  This bridge was big enough for a car to drive over.

This was another great hike in the Ocean County Park system.  Trails were well marked, though there are a couple of unmarked trails that criss-cross where I walked.  It’s kind of hard to get lost as long as you stay on the trails.  Wells Mills park does have a reputation for ticks and I can attest that they were out in force.  Be prepared.  Finally, if you decide to hike the Penns Hill trail, bring enough water if it will be sunny and/or hot.  It’s a good distance.  Should you decide (or need) to cut the hike short, there are junctions with the yellow or green trail that will save you mileage.

One final note.  I left at the parking lot and headed north on the Parkway.  Big mistake on Memorial Day, as the traffic northbound was horrendous.  I got on the parkway at exit 69, and it took me an hour to get to Route 70, which is exit 89.  Traffic didn’t clear until I passed exit 91.  It will probably get much worse into the afternoon and evening .  And I thought I would beat the traffic.

Ticks:  5 7

Hiked: 5/27/2019

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

2018 Analysis

With a few minutes of free time, and not being able hike for at least a month and a half; I thought I would look back on 2018. The summer of 2018 presented a bunch of challenges that did not allow me to get out and hike as much as I would have liked – between hockey tournaments, college visits, and plenty of adverse weather, I spent many a weekends indoors or away from the trails.

2017 hikes: 12
2018 hikes: 10

2017 saw me return to hiking and many of those trips were to the local county parks, I wanted to tick them off the list. 2018 saw me traveling more to locations out-of-county and on my list. However, the challenges listed above limited my number of trips in the past year. Weather was particularly bad, particularly on the Jockey Hollow trail when I ran into a deluge.

2017 miles: 40.45
2018 miles: 41.54

In two less trips I was able to essentially increase my mileage by a mile. Of note, 2017 was spent in County parks, for the most part; where this year I traveled to bigger parks with longer trails.

Highlights from this year:

Cattus Island: Ocean County park. My daughter and I hiked many of the trails here for a long day. We hiked it in May before the heat, humidity, and insects took over. Lots of great scenery, especially by the water.

Watchung Reservation: Sierra Trail. This was a great hike, 7 miles in length. The day was HOT HOT HOT. I had planned 11 miles, but ran pretty low on water. Lots of great views while up on the ridge, and probably my favorite part was hiking through Feltsville, the abandoned town.

Jenny Jump State Park:  An out-and-back. I liked the climbs, the walk on the ridge, Ghost Lake, the views from the lookouts, not seeing a bear (though I wouldn’t mind, from a distance), and not seeing ghosts. Lots of rocks here.

In 2019, I hope to get out more, expand the miles, and challenge myself with new, and maybe more challenging terrain. While I don’t have a bucket list, I do have plenty of trails I want to hike, both here and out of state.

See you on the trails.

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

Jenny Jump State Forest – Visitor’s Center to Ghost Lake

Park Site

Trail Map

Distance:  5.8 miles

Trails:  Swamp Trail -> Spring Trail -> Summit Trail -> Ghost Lake Trail (back to car on the Summit Trail)

Map:

It had been quite a while since I was able to hit the trails, with time filled up with marching band and hockey season.  As we are nearing the end of hockey season, I found a weekend where we only had one game scheduled; which meant I was able to make an attempt at getting out and hiking.  What a day too, it started out sunny and upper 40s at 8:00.  I reached the trail by 9:45 and it warmed up to the lower 50s though clouded up as the day went on.  When I finished it was around 55, and the clouds had come in.  I took many more pictures than I’ve posted, but I’ve determined the potato I’m using is not taking the pictures it used to, so, on future trips I will be trying a new camera app.  We’ll see.  I apologize in advance.

Starting out on the Swamp trail was a great beginning; trails were wide, dirt-based, covered with leaves.

At the end of the Swamp Trail, I turned onto the Spring Trail; and that’s where things took a turn.  Minor rock scrambling was necessary to ascend to the ridge and up to Jenny Jump Mountain.  The trail changed to mostly rocks – what I am most used to in North Jersey.  Once up to the ridge I hiked along until I caught up with ten members of a hiking club.  I trailed behind them until the rested near the top of Jenny Jump Mountain and then I walked on by.  Make sure to bushwack to the overlooks, there are some great views of the mountains and fields in the distance.

Eventually, I started the long descent towards Ghost Lake.  Eventually, I turned onto the Ghost Lake trail which was wide, but had its fair share of rocks.  There are two sections with minor rock scrambling in order to get down – I wasn’t thinking about the return trip…I would have to climb UP this section later.  There were some neat plant-life in the area, massive boulders (moved by glaciers) and even a small stream that fell towards Ghost Lake.

The boulder below is huge, and a tree had fallen from the incline on the right, landing on top of the boulder.  The trail winds UNDER the fallen tree.

Eventually, I exited the forest and got to Ghost Lake.

This was a great place to stop for a minute, eat, and grab something to drink.

After resting for a minute, I thought I would look for the Fairy Hole, a cave by the side of Ghost Lake.  In using Google Maps, I realized the cave was on the other side of Ghost Lake, and really didn’t want to walk all the way around when I had a trip (uphill) all the way back.  Off I went.  (And on the way back into the forest, I ran into the hiking group I had passed earlier.  I think I saw “Garden State Hiking Club” on one gentleman’s jacket. Hello again, if you’re reading.)

I took the Ghost Lake Trail back to the Summit Trail (uphill – all the way, including the rock scrambling I earlier descended) and turned on to the Summit Trail.  I planned to take the Summit Trail back to the car.  When I reached the highest point, I came across a bench facing a great view.

That’s the Delaware Water Gap in the distance…and it probably looks better on a) a less cloudy day, b) less leaves, and c) a better picture.  Continuing on, I was treated to more glacial erratics:

One last overlook had a great view of the fields:

Trails were well marked; while I had the trail map in my bag, I really didn’t need it.  On this hike I happened across more people than I had seen on the trails in a while. Even though it had rained the day before, the trails were in great condition.  I passed a whole bunch of campsites and shelters, and on a future trip here I think I would want to stay in a shelter; it looked like fun.  There were lots of squirrels, and I think the chipmunk militia was following me again; I heard them frequently.  I was walking in bear country again, but did not see any.

I chose Jenny Jump as it will probably be my only hike before Halloween; and there are lots of myths about the forest.  Supposedly, a young girl jumped to her death off one of the large boulders near the top of Jenny Jump mountain, and her spirit wanders the park.  Ghost Lake is named due to a local native American burial ground, or the steam and mist that rises from the lake in the mornings.  And, as an avid Weird NJ reader, I was right near Shades of Death Road.  Of course, I had to drive down the road so I could say I did.

I’m happy to say I made it back with no issues stopping for both pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts at a roadside stand.  Unfortunately, I saw no ghosts, and no bears, but it was a great hike and a great day.

Ticks:  0  (Though we did find one on the dog the next day, it’s not confirmed where the tick came from.)

Hiked:  10/14/2018

 

Poricy Park – Red and Blue trails

Park Site

Trail Map

Distance:  2.4 miles

Trails:  Riparian (red), and Bird Watcher (blue)

Map:

It was icing on the cake that I was able to grab a hike today, and while it was shorter, there were definitely issues.  My son’s game, then practice was canceled.  Had I known that on Friday I would have planned a much bigger hike, but I didn’t know until yesterday, and I only had a couple of hours – and Poricy Park is a few minute’s drive away.

I had the place to myself on a sunny day that started out nice but became hot by the time I decided to hike.  The car showed 88 when I was walking to the trailhead.  My plan was to take the blue trail to the red, walk along the tracks, loop by the pond, take blue to a platform overlooking the pond, then finish up on blue (maybe green) back to the parking lot.  Starting out, the trails look like:

This is great, and easy to walk.  However, there are NO signs, blazes or marks of any kind.  There are poles with numbers on them, but they did not correspond to my map.  Maybe they corresponded to a trail map that was supposed to be available, but I did not see any.  As I cut over to red, to parallel the railroad tracks, I ran into:

Even though I was wearing long pants, I wasn’t venturing into that.  No way.  A little backtracking got me to:

After the boardwalk, there were stairs going up the other side:

At this point the trail became more “woodsy.”

Following this for a bit opened up some great views of Poricy Pond.

I followed this to the end and was anticipating a loop, coming back closer to the tracks.  Unfortunately:

Another overgrown section.  I investigated about 15 feet to see if the trail opened up.  It didn’t.  I back tracked, then followed the trail all the way back to the boardwalk – where I crossed over then followed the wide trail to a pond view.

On the way back, I ran into a couple of freshly cleared areas where a “stage” and some benches had been erected.

There were a couple of these spots, and they were not on my map.  I made my way past the farm house and the barn and crossed a brook on my way.

For the last bit, I followed a blue/green trail back to the parking lot.

What’s this?!?

I saw one other sign on the entire hike.

This was a nice little walk despite no maps available, very poor trail conditions on the Riparian trail near the tracks, and no blazes.  The green and blue trails were wide and grassy, and you probably couldn’t get lost.  Red was iffy at best.  I would only recommend this if you are looking for a short, quick hike.  As for wildlife, butterflies were all over the place.  And I saw a few rabbits and squirrels peeking out from the underbrush.  At one point, a black cat was sitting trailside, but as I approached, it darted off.  (I probably should have guessed that was an omen.)

Ticks: 0 (And this is surprising, the last time I was here, I was covered in them.)

Hiked:  8/26/2018