STATE PARK SERVICE KICKS OFF 2018 WITH FIRST DAY HIKES PROGRAM
EVENTS SCHEDULED ACROSS STATE FIT WIDE VARIETY OF FITNESS LEVELS TO SHOWCASE THE BEAUTY OF NEW JERSEY’S PARKS, FORESTS AND HISTORIC SITES
(17/P128) TRENTON – The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry will offer a variety of fun and invigorating recreational opportunities across the state on New Year’s Day as part of the annual America’s State Parks First Day Hikes program designed to get people outdoors.
In total, 27 guided hikes, two mountain bike rides and one horseback riding event will be offered at state parks, forests and historic sites statewide on January 1, 2018. Exercise activities will range from easy to strenuous, offering something for just about everyone.
“First Day Hikes are yet another way for the State Parks System to showcase our parks and forests in a fun and healthy way, whether on foot, mountain bike or horseback,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. “This is a great way for families to get outdoors, learn about the parks in their communities, and be inspired to visit them again.”
The more unique offerings this year include mountain bike rides at Belleplain State Forest and Wharton State Forest, both in Burlington County, and horseback riding for those with their own horses is offered at Kittatinny State Park in Blairstown, Warren County. The bike rides are planned along 10 miles of trail, and have minimum age requirements for participation. Children 10 years and older with an adult rider may join the horseback ride.
New this year is the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park’s “New Year’s Day Bird Walk,” which offers the opportunity to possibly see birds often difficult to find elsewhere in New Jersey. Participants will walk from the lighthouse to the end of the jetty to look for winter birds including Loons, Eiders, ducks and more.
“The annual First Day Hikes program offers visitors a great incentive to head outdoors, get some exercise and explore the natural beauty of our parks, forests and historic sites,” said Mark Texel, Director of the Division of Parks and Forestry. “We invite everyone to wrap up the holiday season with this wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature found across the state.”
Overall, hikes are scheduled at parks and forests in 14 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
Hikes are scheduled at Round Valley Recreation Area in Clinton Township, and Spruce Run Recreation Area in Lebanon Township, both in Hunterdon County; Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, and Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in Princeton, both in Mercer County; Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge, Middlesex County; Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Manalapan in Monmouth County; Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park in Barnegat Light, and Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson, all in Ocean County; and Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, Union County.
Hikes are scheduled at Grover Cleveland’s Birthplace and Grover Cleveland County Park in Caldwell, Essex County; Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Hudson County; Ringwood State Park in Ringwood, Passaic County; High Point State Park in Sussex, and Waterloo Village in Stanhope, both in Sussex County; and Kittatinny Valley State Park in Andover Township, Warren County.
Hikes are scheduled at Bass River State Forest in Woodland Township, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Pemberton Township, Rancocas State Park in Westampton, and Wharton State Forest in Shamong and Washington townships, all in Burlington County; Belleplain State Forest in Woodbine Township, Cape May County; and Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove, Salem County.
The State Park Service began participating in First Day Hikes after the program became a nationwide event in 2012. First Day Hikes began more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to promote healthy lifestyles and year-round recreation at state parks.
The Division of Parks and Forestry manages nearly 450,000 acres of land, including 40 state parks and forests. In addition, the Division of Fish and Wildlife manages about 350,000 acres as multiple-use Wildlife Management Areas.
All events are free. Some require preregistration, others do not. Some events also are weather-dependent. For a detailed list on event start times, how to dress, difficulty ratings and lengths of hike, age requirements, accessibility issues, whether dogs are permitted, and who to contact in case of inclement weather, visit: www.njparksandforests.org/parks/first_day_hikes.html
To learn more about New Jersey’s Parks, Forests and Historic Sites, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/
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