DEP ENCOURAGES VISITS TO STATE PARKS, FORESTS AND HISTORIC SITES
ON JAN. 1 TO CELEBRATE THE OUTDOORS WITH FIRST DAY HIKES
(18/P110) TRENTON – The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry will offer multiple recreation opportunities across the state on New Year’s Day as part of the annual America’s State Parks’ First Day Hikes program.
“New Jersey residents can join people nationwide as we welcome the new year on the right foot,” said Mark Texel, Assistant Director of the State Park Service. “The free hikes offer an incentive to get outside and exercise, experience history, enjoy nature and celebrate 2019 with friends and family in one of your state parks.”
Hikes are available for just about every skill level.
For relatively simple hikes, try a 1.5-mile hike at either Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park or Wharton State Forest’s Batsto Village. One-mile hikes are offered at the Forest Resource Education Center or Ringwood State Park. For those seeking an impressive view with minimal effort, try the 64 steps to the top of the lighthouse at Twin Lights Historic Site.
Experienced hikers looking for a challenge may want to head to High Point State Park for a strenuous 6-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. To cover even more ground, visit Spruce Run Recreation Area for an all-day 15-mile hike.
To learn more about the state’s rich history, visit Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Washington Crossing State Park or Fort Mott State Park’s events.
For those trying to get fit on wheels, head to Belleplain State Forest for a technical trail ride on your mountain bike. For a more easygoing cross-country mountain bike ride, join the Batsto Village ride in Wharton State Forest.
In total, state parks, forests and historic sites will offer visitors 22 guided hikes, two mountain bike rides, one horseback ride and one lighthouse climb on Jan. 1, 2019. Hikes are scheduled at parks and forests in 13 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 Washington’s Crossing/Hopewell in Mercer County; Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge, Middlesex County; Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Manalapan and Twin Lights Historic site in Highlands, both in Monmouth County; and Island Beach State Park in Berkeley, Bass River State Forest and Warren Grove Recreation Area, both in Stafford and the Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson, all in Ocean County.
Hikes are scheduled at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Hudson County; Ringwood State Park in Ringwood, Passaic County; High Point State Park in Sussex, and Kittatinny Valley State Park in Newton, both in Sussex County; and Kittatinny Valley State Park in Blairstown, Warren County.
Hikes are scheduled at Wharton State Forest in Mullica, Atlantic County; 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.
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 whom to contact in case of inclement weather, visit www.njparksandforests.org/parks/first_day_hikes.html.
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 DEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry manages nearly 450,000 acres of land, including 40 state parks and forests.
To learn more about New Jersey’s parks, forests and historic sites, visit: www.njparksandforests.org.
Like the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/newjerseystateparks.
Follow the New Jersey State Park Service on Instagram @newjerseystateparks
Follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP.
PHOTOS/Top: Robin Muller; Bottom: DEP