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Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse

Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse

One of my goals for the Spring and Summer is to go on more walks and hikes through NJ.  Like going to different diners, it’s fun to see different parts of the state.  Recently, after running the Cape May 10k, I went to the Cape May State Park.  I wanted to spend the day outdoors, but I wasn’t in the mood to ‘just lay” on the beach.  Plus, it was slightly too windy and too cold to do so.

The Cape May Lighthouse is a major attraction in the area.  Since it’s along the shore, the state park has a constantly changing shoreline, several freshwater coastal marsh, and ponds.  What I didn’t know was it was also a well-known location for viewing birds.  Many people travel to view birds, which was neat and not something I’ve ever done.  For those who don’t know, I’m terrified of both turkeys and geese, but other birds interest me.  Of any animal, I find them to have the “most personality.”

cape may state park

There are a few trails.  All are easy, along the coast, and we saw people of all ages walking.  We stopped a lot to look at birds but there is no elevation change and many are even on boardwalk.  If you are looking for a rigorous hike, there isn’t for you but if you’re looking something relaxing and scenic, you’ll enjoy it!

cape may state park

Red Trail:

  • about half a mile long and wheelchair access accessible
  • offers hikers access to both the lighthouse ponds
  • Each of the two ponds has a platform to view the birds, swans, and even osprey

Yellow Trail:

  • 1.5 miles long.
  • My favorite of three due to the different habitats including the shore, wetland marsh, and beach

cape may state park

Blue Trail:

  • About 2 miles long
  • Most floral and fauna
  • Like the yellow trail offers there are many different habitats along the shore.

If you are looking to view birds and nature, both the yellow and blue trails are your best bet. The red trail gives a quick glimpse of the park and access to the lighthouse.

cape may state park

cape may state park

cape may state park

I guess after all of that, I should tell you we did make it to the lighthouse.

cape may lighthouse

I’m glad we took some time to visit another of NJ’s parks.  As I mentioned, this Spring and Summer my goal is to visit more parks.

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:
Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:
Have you ever been bird watching?
What are some of your plans this Spring and Summer?

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Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

As part of my “spring and summer” NJ bucket list, I want to go to more local parks.  Last year we went to a lot of northeast parks, but we’ve been feeling the shore this year!  I’ve already been to Turkey Swamp in Freehold as well as Cattus Island in Toms River.

Anyway, one park I’ve wanted to go to was Hartshorne Park in the Atlantic Highlands.  It’s a little bit of a treck (about 80 minutes), but one random weekday last week, we decided to drive up there.

Hartshorne Park is a lot hillier than anticipated.  I thought, oh it’s along the shore it will probably be flat.  That was not the case and my Garmin said I climbed about 80 flights of stairs.  Not that it matters, but don’t go in expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne is 794-acre site and overlooks the Navesink River.  After some research, I came to find out it’s one of the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast.   If you are looking for a great park for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking (we saw many bikers), this park is for you!  No, the park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing drew my husband, and I here was the history of the park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Park to modernize coastal defense.  You can view several of the bunkers in the park.

With the rise of Airpower (go Air Force).  Military bunkers were not needed as much. During the Cold, War Hartshorne served as a missile defense site and command center.  It was equipped with radar, computers and electronic plotting devices.  All of these structures have been removed, but the bunkers are still in place.

The Hartshorne Park site is now listed officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyway-

As I mentioned, I hadn’t done a lot of research about the hiking in the park.  If I had, I would have known all of the historic sites are in the parking lot, and the park is much hillier than anticipated.  We got there around noon, and it took us just about 4 hours to hike 8 miles.  We stopped, we took photos, we looked at the history.  It was a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up hiking about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site.

I didn’t expect so much green, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected it almost to be on the water since that is what people took photos of!

Hartshorne park

A very large treeHartshorne park

Another large treeHartshorne park

Most of my photos are from the military site which is within 200 yards of the parking lot.

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

A Map of the site

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

The Bunker

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Now onto the hiking portion.  With the hiking, it goes deep into the pines as well as near the water.  There are so many different views!

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

In all, it was a beautiful hike in the forest as well as along the water.  I’m glad we finally made it up there!

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

What was the last historical place you went?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?

Exploring Cattus Island Park in Toms River

Exploring Cattus Island Park in Toms River

Last week, I took a drive out to Cattus Island Park in Toms River.  Originally, I wanted to enjoy the shore while still doing something active.  While laying on the beach is fun for some, it isn’t all that fun to me. I get bored after a few minutes. One of the parks I’ve wanted to get too is Cattus Island in Toms River, so it worked out.

Cattus is an easy trail suitable for a leisurely walk, small kids, or pets.  You hike through the Pinelands, on a boardwalk, and along the beach.  There is even a massive Osprey nest! The hike itself is one of the easiest I’ve done, with a mix of sand, boardwalk, dirt, and pine needles.  If you combine all of the trails, it ends up being about 6.9 miles.

One thing I appreciated about Cattus Island Park was the map available at the front.  Obviously, everything is available online beforehand, but it’s nice to have a paper copy out.

I did hike most of the trails, but it got to be a bit windy along the shore, and I was getting cold.  Plus, I also wanted to beat the traffic on route 70.

Starting along the boardwalk

Cattus Island Park toms river
You can see the Osprey nest in the background.

Cattus Island Park toms river

Marsh and Wetlands

Cattus Island Park toms river

Then all of a sudden the trail went through the pines.

Cattus Island Park toms river

And along a small creek.

Cattus Island Park toms river

Then all of a sudden I was along the shore.

Cattus Island Park toms river

Cattus Island Park toms river

This is when things got windy.  It got cold quickly.  It’s hard to believe because the rest of the week has been so warm!

Windy day down the shore.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

Cattus Island Park toms river

Cattus Island Park toms river

In all, I had an excellent time hiking, and I’m glad I went out there.  Cattus Island Park is a beautiful, leisurely park and I highly suggest it.

Spring 2018 Hikes I’ve Done:

Cattus Island Park (Toms River)
Turkey Swamp Park (Freehold)

You can see all hikes here.

This Spring and Summer, I want to get to as many NJ parks as possible.  Now that the weather is nice, it’s been great to be outdoors!

Questions for you:
What was the last park you’ve been too?
Do you have any plans this spring and summer?

Exploring Turkey Swamp Park

Exploring Turkey Swamp Park

Earlier in the week, I decided to take a trip to Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold, NJ.  I’ve heard it’s a cute park surrounded by a small lake.

Turkey Swamp is just over 2,200 acres.  The major attraction is the 17-acre lake.  In the summer it’s used for fishing and boating. The park also features miles of trails and even an archery range.  While walking through, I wondered what kind of range it was but after googling found out archery (obviously, no one was practicing).

While I didn’t run through the park, you can.  Turkey Swamp actually hosts a trail series and even a looped marathon.  The trails are accessible and even if you don’t consider yourself a “trail runner”, you can run through.

In all, it was a fun few hours in the park, and I enjoyed the warmer weather.  This spring and summer, I want to get out to more parks in NJ and enjoy them.  I haven’t been to many down the shore so that’s where you’ll find me.

Two main trails join together and create about 5 miles of hiking.  The surface is mostly flat and dirt.

The shorter, Alder, is 1.6 miles and an easy loop around the lake.

turkey swamp park freehold nj

turkey swamp park freehold nj

What am I staring at…the world will never know.

The Longer, Manasquan Loop is about 3.8 miles from the Nomoco parking lot.  Both are easy to follow.

turkey swamp park freehold nj

walking along the stream

turkey swamp park freehold nj

In all, it was a great morning of relaxing before a busy day.  There weren’t any turkeys out, but I can’t complain about that.  There were, however, plenty of geese and their babies (which I had no interest to go near territorial geese…or any geese).

turkey swamp park freehold nj

You can see other hikes I’ve done here.

Questions for you:

What are some things you want to do this summer?

Do you have a favorite park near you?

What I Pack in my Hiking Bag

What I Pack in my Hiking Bag

Over the past two years, my husband and I have gotten more into hiking.  While it’s not “running,” hiking is a tough workout.  When we first started, I used to try and squeeze runs in before and get my “running miles.”  I quickly realized I became more fatigued on hikes and it’s just unsustainable.  Now, hiking provides a great workout without running down the road (or whatever).  We choose to do day hikes because those are more of our style.

If you want to read about any of the hikes we’ve done around the country you can click here.

When going out for a day hike, it’s much different than packing a Nalgene and coming back.  I’ve gotten a few questions about what we pack.  First and foremost, it depends on the season and location.  The climate is very different in NJ versus Arizona.

Here are a Few Things I Pack Each Hike:

Good Shoes:

I used to hike in old running shoes but now hike in a pair of Brooks Cascadia trail shoes.  The trail shoes have more support to climb up or down terrain.  If you are going any distance, then shoes with support are essential.

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Number 1

Extra Water, Food, and Snacks:

After getting lost on Bear Mountain a few years ago (and yes we really took an Uber back to our car around the mountain), I realized the importance of having enough food and water.  Don’t expect the worst, but always prepare for the worst.  You never know where your hike might lead you and I cannot stress how important it is to be more prepared.  While not the only food I eat, I do like eating diner cookies on the bike.  Other things I’ve packed include trail mix, nuts, snack bars, and fruit.  I always anticipate getting lost and being out much longer.

Bear Mountain Hiking

Map, Compass, and GPS:

A map and compass is an important piece of any hiking.  Not only that, but it’s important to know how to use them!  I took backpacking in college, but before then I had no idea.  Cell phones have GPS built in, but like a Garmin GPS, not always helpful.

Extra Battery for Cell Phone:

If it’s cold, you get lost, or for whatever reason, your phone dies, having that extra battery is extremely helpful.  We have used the extra battery life about half of the time we are out!

Emergency Kit:

This includes everything for first aid, as well as a way to make fire.  Not only do they keep you warm but fires are also a great way to signal for help.  Another essential item for your kit is a flashlight or headlamp.  If you’re out past dark, you’ll need something.

Knife:

A knife is one of the most essential tools you’ll bring.  You never know what situation you’ll need to cut bandages, trees,

Full Set of Clothing:

It goes without saying, but remember to pack an extra set of clothing including extra underwear and socks. On most 5+ mile hikes, I’ve changed socks at least once!

Kleenex Wipes:

You never know what sort of issues you might encounter, and I like Kleenex Wet Wipes from Walgreens for both my hands and face. Personally, I like how the wipes dry quickly and don’t leave any residue.  There are no harsh chemicals, so they are safe enough for your hands and face.  As someone with sensitive skin, this is important for me.

kleenix wet wipes

Pack to Keep Everything in:

My favorite is from Northface.  It’s comfortable, fits everything, and doesn’t put unwanted pressure on your back.  Having a comfortable pack is important to carry everything.  This one has worked well for both my husband and I.  It’s lightweight, durable, and versatile.

Ramapo State Forest hike

So there you have it!  That is what I keep in my day hiking pack.  Thank you for Kleenex Wet Wipes for sponsoring this post.

Questions for you:
Do you like hiking?  What do you keep in your hiking pack?

Hiking the Palisades

Hiking the Palisades

On Monday, my husband and I went hiking in Palisades Park, in NJ.  We hiked about 4 miles up to New York, looped up the cliffs and hiked back.  If you are looking for a surprisingly beautiful and challenging hike that faces the Hudson and NYC skyline, this is your hike.  There are a lot of different options, and you can even just park and look over the cliffs if you prefer.

We had wanted to do this hike for a while, but the timing never worked out.  I wanted a clear day (to see New York City) and snowy days weren’t an option because there is a 1-mile scramble across rocks.

What is scrambling? Scrambling is a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one’s hands.  Basically, it means hopping from rock to rock.  Doing that on icy or snowy rocks is extremely dangerous.  You don’t have to do the scramble portion, and I wouldn’t recommend bringing any small kids or pets.

We started on the “long trail” which went down next to the shore of the Hudson.  You could easily put your feet in the water if you wanted too, but I absolutely did not want too.  I think seeing the floating dumpster justified that.  For about 3 miles we hiked along the water just admiring the view.

hiking the palisades park nj

Easy terrain

I knew we would eventually have to get up to the top, but I did not know or think about hard that might be.  I thought maybe we would take a natural staircase (which there were a few that we passed).  All of a sudden, we saw this:

hiking the palisades park nj

It took us about 90 minutes to hike up a single mile.  I didn’t take any photos because I needed both hands just to get up there.  It was quite the challenge and honestly one of the toughest hikes we’ve ever done.  I wasn’t expecting that!

Around the halfway point we also made it into New York!  As you can see by this fancy and prohibiting fence.  I wish there was a sign that said Welcome to New York or New Jersey, but I guess both states decided to fund other things.

hiking the palisades park nj

Finally, after about 90 minutes, we made it up to the top.  I haven’t felt that accomplished in a long time.

 

hiking the palisades park nj

It’s a long way down

From there we hiked back the way we came but on the “upper level”.  There was a small waterfall where many people were taking photos, so of course, we did too.  You can access the waterfall with about a mile of hiking, and don’t need to do the scramble (for my own personal reference LOL).  It’s a nice view and worth the stop.

hiking the palisades park nj

I was tired after that, but we still had a few miles to go.  We also discovered a small castle at the top which was fun!hiking the palisades park nj

You can go into the castle and look out over the Hudson too!

hiking the palisades park nj me new york

hiking the palisades park nj me new york

We finally made it back to our car after about 5 hours and a much more difficult hike than anticipated.  I loved the hike. However, I wasn’t ready for the scramble or the climbing.  I’m glad I wore the Brooks Cascadia because I doubt I would have made it in regular running shoes and definitely not in anything else.

You can see more hikes I’ve done here.

Questions for you:

What is the hardest hike you’ve done?

Have you ever walked across a state line?

 

Hiking Mesquite Trail in the White Tank Mountains

Hiking Mesquite Trail in the White Tank Mountains

The final hike, my husband and I did, was also in the White Tank Mountains on the Willow Canyon Trail.  It ended up being just about an 8.5 mile hike, with plenty of incredible views, and switchbacks.  There is a longer trail: Ford Canyon but we didn’t want to be out too late.  I would love to come back sometime!

We appreciated how well groomed the trail was, but wasn’t overly crowded.  It took us about 4 hours and we only saw a handful of people in that time.  We didn’t rush and stopped, took our time, and relaxed.  My guess is you could probably do the hike in about 3-4 if you were on a mission.

We started in a rock bed and headed upwards. The first mile started with a good amount of climbing but it leveled out.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Just keep climbing…just keep climbing.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona
Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

We traced the canyon and a good amount of the 8.5-mile loop is not climbing but more flat with views.  That is definitely something I can appreciate.Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

Looking down at a dried up water bed.

Mesquite trail phoenix arizona

At the top of one of the peaks

 

One of my favorite photos of two side by side cacti.

cactus white tank mountains

It was another gorgeous hike outside of Phoenix and I am glad we made it out there.

We also hiked the Dixie Mine Trail and ate giant Cinnamon Buns at the Nicks Diner 2. 

Questions for you:

Do you like hiking?

Have you ever been to Phoenix?

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