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Exploring Wells State Park (Sturbridge, MA)

Exploring Wells State Park (Sturbridge, MA)

It looks like Wells State Park is my last post for summer hiking. This summer, I was lucky enough to have time to hike in several spots in the Northeast.  Heck, I even did a couple of mountain races too.  I genuinely enjoy hiking as much as running.

Anyway, on my way back from the Boothbay Half, my husband and I stopped around Sturbridge.  Instead of running, we opted for a 4-5 mile hike in Wells State Park.  Wells State Park is neat because there is plenty of camping.  We were out early, and we saw lots of other hikers and campers.  It was never overwhelming, and it wasn’t as if the trails went right through campsites.  If I lived in the area, this would be a place I would camp.

Wells State Park is about 1,400-acres. Apparently, there are the campground has 60  sites. We primarily hiked around Walker Pond which appears you can fish or swim depending on the location.

There are over 10 miles of trails which are for hiking.  There is also a road that goes through the park for campers to easier setup sites.

Here are a few photos:

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Around Walker Pond

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Dirt Path

 

 

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

More Hiking

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Do you see the frog?  I didn’t until my husband pointed him out.

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

Wells State Park Sturbridge MA hiking

In all, we had a great time, and if I’m ever back in the area, I will go back.  The trail itself is easy, and doable for kids or dogs.

Here are other hikes I’ve done this Spring and Summer:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse
Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour
Hiking through Belleplain State Forest
Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC
Walk Out a Mile and It Down Pours
Hiking Shark River Park

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Do you like camping? I haven’t been in a while, but I don’t mind. 

What is something fun you did this summer? 

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Walk Out a Mile and It Down Pours

Walk Out a Mile and It Down Pours

This is the tale of a hike that was supposed to be a hike but then wasn’t.

I was up in the Allentown area last week.  I needed to be up there sometime in the mid-afternoon.  If you’ve ever dealt with Philadelphia traffic, you know you don’t play games during that time (like any city really).  So I left early and ended up having 5 hours of free time.  I like to see various areas and had the day off, so I thought why not?  The drive could either be 90 minutes earlier or 2.5 later in the day.

There are a few hikes I’ve wanted to do in the general area, so I decided to kill some time and went up to Hickory Run State Park.  While driving up, the weather was beautiful.  There wasn’t any rain, and it wasn’t forecasted to rain.  It was sunny, but cooler for the summer (around 80).  I thought it would be an ideal day to hike.

Starting out at Hickory didn’t go as planned either.  I like Nuun when hiking and prefer the caffeinated Ginger.  I would prefer noncaffeinated ginger, but to my knowledge, they don’t make them.  (I’m not a Nuun ambassador and prefer something with more substance while running.).  With Nuun, I also eat food while hiking, so I don’t really eat gels.

Anyway, I accidentally dumped an entire canister of the Nuun into my pack.  So I didn’t see stars from that much caffeine, I diluted, but at that point, I knew the hike would be “one of those hikes”.

I started off on Blue Trail.  It’s a thin trail that winds through the forest. It connects both the Pine Hill and Sand Spring trails.

The path went along a stream crossing, and while trying to cross, I fell in.  I do have a pair of Goretex Brooks Cascadia which are fantastic but when you fall into a stream, there is only so much that will protect you.  As I continued along the trail, the skies opened up, and it started downpouring anyway.

Hiking Hickory run park

I wasn’t expected rain, so I didn’t have anything I would usually have like a jacket or hat.  I kept trecking along.  The trail was overgrown and the further I got, the deeper the water was.

Hiking Hickory run park

Around an hour, and probably only going 1.5 miles, I ended up turning around.  It was a trail I know I could have covered hiking 3 miles per hour, and I wouldn’t make it anywhere at the rate I was going.

Hiking Hickory run park

In all, I’m definitely happy I was up at Hickory Run Park near Allentown, and I do want to go back on a better day.  Nothing about the hike went as planned but I made the best of the situation and that is all I can ask of myself.

The park looks awesome, and there are so many fun trails.  I love NJ, but I’ve done 75% of the hikes here now!  I don’t regret the short but fun hike, I’m happy to be able to do it.

Here are other hikes I’ve done this Spring and Summer:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse
Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour
Hiking through Belleplain State Forest
Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

You can see all the hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you hiked in the rain?

Where is your favorite place to hike? 

Hiking Indian Wells State Park (Connecticut)

Hiking Indian Wells State Park (Connecticut)

While in Connecticut last month, we decided to take a nice hike at Indian Wells State Park.  It’s not a rigorous hike but a pleasant hour or two walk around the park.  It’s family-friendly, and right along the water with a beach if you want to swim or boat.  The hike itself was about 2-3 miles, and we went to the lookout point as well as the waterfalls.  A few people were swimming in the waterfall, so I didn’t take many photos as that might have been a little awkward.

If you hike about a mile, you’ll reach a small overlook which was a beautiful spot to relax.  We spent a few minutes looking out and then hiked to the “main attraction” of the waterfall.

The free-flowing waterfall has a deep pool at the base that we saw many people jumping into. We did as we weren’t interested in swimming at all. If I were to go swimming in the area, it would probably be at the waterfall because it’s not far from the beach and entrance and a more secluded area.

The hike itself was quiet, and we didn’t see a lot of people throughout the couple hours we were out there.  Here are a few photos from the adventure.

The hikes all start with climbing a short but well-maintained series of steps.

indian well state park connecticut

indian well state park connecticut

View from the look point into Connecticut

indian well state park connecticut

Into the Creekindian well state park connecticut

indian well state park connecticut

In all, it was a great walk, and I would definitely go back.  It’s a short and easy hike if you’re looking for something to do with kids or a dog.  Of any of the parks, it’s one of the most family friendly we have been too.

Here are other hikes I’ve done this Spring and Summer:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse
Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour
Hiking through Belleplain State Forest

You can see all hikes I’ve done here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever swam near a waterfall?  Do you prefer going to a beach, pool, or lake?  Or none LOL.

What is a fun hike local to you?

Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour

Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour

I like going to Bear Mountain in New York State, however, some of the hardest and scariest hikes I’ve done have been in that park.  Bear Mountain was one of the first hikes my husband and I did. Somehow, we got lost and hiked over the mountain and to other side and main road.  In order to get back to our car, we either had to take a taxi or spend another 4+ hours hiking in the dark.  By some miracle, there was a driver up there.  When we discussed options that seemed like a silly one to even pursue.

This particular time, we started in a mist and by the time we were about halfway in, it was downpouring.  Honestly, it wasn’t too bad.  I invested in a nice Goretex jacket which kept me dry the entire time.

Here are a few photos:

hiking bear mountain new york state

The beach. On a decent day this is swarming with people

hiking bear mountain new york state

With the storm there were so many trees down

hiking bear mountain new york state

Plenty of water so plenty of streams to cross

hiking bear mountain new york state

The nice thing about the Appalachian Trail is it is well kept and there are many rocks stairs

hiking bear mountain new york state

Views along the way

hiking bear mountain new york state

View from the top

hiking bear mountain new york state

Tower at the top

hiking bear mountain new york state

close up

hiking bear mountain new york state

Well kept facts about the entire area

At the end, once we got back down to the trailhead

In all, we had a great time.  It was pouring rain, but it was definitely one to write home (or blog I guess) about.  We hiked about 4 steep miles that day but with the scrambling, especially when it got wet, it was difficult.  Typically the trail to get to the peak isn’t that rigorous.

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever hiked in the rain?

What is your favorite hike?

 

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!

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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?

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?

 

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