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Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

If you are into history and hiking Valley Forge is a great spot to stop.

A brief history:

During the Revolutionary War, Valley Forge was commanded by General George Washington and functioned as a military encampment for the Continental Army’s main body.

In the winter of 1777, General George Washington led his 12,000-man army into Valley Forge.  They remained there from December 1777 to June 1778. For six months, Valley Forge was one of the largest cities in the colonies. Washington’s men created crude huts to serve as temporary barracks. George Washington set up his headquarters in a small stone building considered to be the “Pentagon.” General Washington and his men worked there.

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

During the winter, roughly 2,000 soldiers and about 1500 horses died due to disease or malnutrition.

Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park preserves 3,500 acres of the original encampment site.  Since it’s such a historic area, along with most of Philadelphia, I highly recommend taking a trip if you’re around.


I’ve been to Valley Forge multiple times, but it wasn’t until recently I knew there were trails. My good friend and writer, Jen and I headed up on a cool Thursday afternoon.  There are a few trails that you can hike at Valley Forge and Washington’s Headquarters. Jen actually trained for her trail race in the park. From Washington’s Headquarters, you have the choice to hike Mount Misery and Mount Joy. We chose Mount Misery, but I want to come back to Mount Joy soon.

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

You can park at Washington’s Headquarters in Valley Forge. At Washington’s Headquarters, there are bathrooms as well as a still in use train station.  There are also guided tours too. Walk down the Train Station platform and down the steps.  As you continue along the gravel path at Valley Forge, you’ll see Washington’s Headquarters.  Continue straight until you get to the road. At the fork, you can start with alley Creek Trail or Horse-Shoe Trail. It depends if you want to start with the easy (alley Creek Trail) and finish with the harder (Horse-Shoe Trail) or the opposite. Horse Shoe Trail is what takes you to the peak.

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

We started with Valley Creek Trail which is an easy, flat, trail. Horse-Shoe Trail takes you up Mount Misery and the Valley Creek Trail takes you back. You can see an old Covered Bridge as well. Hiking up trails on Mount Misery in Valley Forge is roughly a 4 miles from the parking lot at Washingtons Headquarters.

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

In all, it was a fun hike and I’m glad Jen and I did the Mount Misery Trail. I’m looking forward to hiking the Mount Hope Trail soon.

Hiking Mount Misery at Valley Forge

You can see more hikes here.

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We both needed a trip out of the house. Diner+hike it was.

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Questions for you:

What is the last historical spot you went to?

Have you hiked Mount Misery at Valley Forge?

 

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Hiking Watchung Reservation

Hiking Watchung Reservation

Recently I was in Watchung Reservation. The weather wasn’t ideal for hiking, but I was in the area and have wanted to go. Because patience is not a virtue I have, I decided to hike anyway (instead of driving back up the following day). Watchung Reservation is part of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Union County Parks System. There is plenty to do outside of nature trails including the trailside nature science center, loop playground, trailside museum, deserted village of Feltville, and Watchung Stables.

There are also plenty of hiking trails in Watchung Reservation including the History Trail and Sierra Trail. The most famous is the History Trail.  The History Trail at Watchung Reservation is about 6-miles and visits sites of historical significance. The Watchung Reservation, itself is approximately 2,000 acres with Lake Surprise and Glenside Park.

At the Watchung Reservation parking area, there are several posts, benches, historical markers and of course a trail map.  It starts and stops at the Trailside Nature Science Center. It’s not a strenuous hike and was rather enjoyable when we went. Parts were flooded out to rain but no big deal.

It starts on a smooth dirt trail.

Watchung Reservation

There were a ton of trees down at Watchung Reservation!

Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation

When we went to cross the reservoir at Watchung Reservation, it was completely flooded out. I had to hop across branches, and stones, which to be honest not falling was one of my biggest accomplishments of the day.

Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation

On the other side of the Watchung Reservation and Lake Surprise, there were plenty of historical sites and small huts and houses that were almost completely gone.

Watchung Reservation

In all, Watchung Reservation is a beautiful and peaceful hike. It’s perfect if you want to relax with something not too rigorous.  Or if you want to explore some of the other options available.

You can see all of the hikes here.

Questions for you:

Do you like hiking in the rain?

Are there any historic hikes near you?  Have you been to Watchung Reservation? 

Hiking Los Robles Trail and Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail and Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail and Open Space

It feels like this was forever ago.  While in California, we hiked five different locations between 2-9 miles.  Nothing was overly strenuous but each was fun and challenging in its own way.

Los Robles Trail and Open Space is located at the southern portion of the Conejo Open Space.  Los Robles Trail and Open Space is located near the highway, and you would never guess there are over 200 acres in the park. There are views of Ventura County, Angel Vista Point, and the Santa Monica Mountains.

We were traveling north from Carlsbad to San Francisco and wanted to get out and stretch your legs.  When I googled short hikes, I found the Los Robles Trail and Open Space. One commenter wrote: “perfect for when you’re stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway and want to get out of the car for a short walk.”

What I didn’t realize until later was Los Robles Trail and Open Space historical significance!  On Feb. 28, 1776, Juan Bautiste de Anza and nearly 200 settlers came through the Conejo Valley on a similar trail while traveling from Mexico to San Francisco.

While we were out on Los Robles Trail and Open Space, we saw several other hikers as well as plenty of mountain bikers too. Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

Los Robles Trail and Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

Lots of mountain bike trails too at Los Robles Trail and Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

A very old tree

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

Views of Los Robles Trail and Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

The end Los Robles Trail and Open Space to a neighborhood

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

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Trying to catch a sunset and eating hair. Typical.

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You Can See More Hikes here.

California Hikes:

Hiking Marin Headlands (San Francisco)

Hiking Calavera Hills Community Park

Mini Trip to Los Angeles

Questions for you:

Are you good at road trips? Can you drive for a long period of time without stopping? (not me LOL)

Where is your favorite spot to hike? 

Exploring Hartshorne Woods Park in the Highlands

Exploring Hartshorne Woods Park in the Highlands

Hartshorne Woods Park

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 Woods 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 to Hartshorne Park. Hartshorne Woods Park is in monmouth county parks and has plenty of easy trails including the rocky point trail, laurel ridge trail, and battery loop.

Hartshorne Woods Parkis 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 to Hartshorne Woods Park expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne Woods Park 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), Hartshorne Woods Park is for you!  No, Hartshorne Woods Park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing that drew my husband and I here was the history of Hartshorne Woods Park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Woods 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 Woods Park served as a missile defense site and command center.  Hartshorne Woods Park 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 Woods 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 hiking in Hartshorne Woods 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.  Hartshorne Woods Park is a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up doing the grand tour about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site and battery lewis at Hartshorne Woods Park.

I didn’t expect so much green at Hartshorne Woods Park, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected Hartshorne Woods Park 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 at Hartshorne Woods Park.  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 to Hartshorne Woods Park.

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? Have you been to Hartshorne Woods Park?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?

8 years ago…I ran a race

8 years ago…I ran a race

Since 2010 St. Patrick’s day has held a much more sentimental reason to me than drinking beer, wearing green, and pots of gold.  Although if you would like to send me a pot of gold that is fine too!  Eight years ago, I ran a 5k on my college campus that would change the path and direction of my life.

You can read my entire running story here or in the tab above.

When I was a college sophomore, I saw a sign at the gym that said if completed the annual campus 5k you would get a free long sleeve t-shirt.  As a college student, you can never have enough things to stuff in your dorm room.  My college roommates always appreciated my hoarding.  I had plenty of short sleeve shirts, but long sleeve shirts were something I was always looking for.  All I had to do was sign up for a 5k and complete it?

Okay, sign me up.

Sign me up, and I didn’t run an ounce beforehand.

Keep in mind my running history previous to March of 2010 was lackluster.  I barely passed the mile countless times in both middle and high school…Passing was 12:30 and my mile PR was 12:12.

At my high school, you didn’t have to take gym after 10th grade.  So after 10th-grade gym class, I avoided running like the plague.  Thinking out loud, the only two times I had run was to “impress” upperclassman on the swim team.  It wasn’t impressive, and I made a goober out of myself both times.

I wasn’t terribly athletic and certainly wasn’t coordinated through high school.  I did swim competitively and did enjoy that.  During the offseason from swimming, I went to the gym and used the elliptical or lifted weights.

It was nice to keep cardio and strength when I wasn’t swimming but I never (not once) used running as cross training.  Long story short I had no idea what I was getting myself with a trivial campus 5k into but the phrase “if it’s free, it’s for me” comes to mind with this race.

The race itself was a blur, and I finished around 24 minutes.  I don’t remember the exact time, but I remember not dying, texting my shocked marathon running dad, and picking up my t-shirt.  (of course, I didn’t tell my parents I was running this 5k…I didn’t want them to ask if I didn’t finish.

Of course, I didn’t tell my parents about this 5k, I didn’t want the embarrassment their daughter couldn’t finish a 5k.

After the race, I wore the t-shirt all around campus the following day.  I beamed with pride, smiling at random strangers also wearing our cheap cotton long sleeve shirts.

After the race, it wasn’t as if I magically became engrossed with running.  The race did make me realize running wasn’t all that bad.  I ran when it was nice out which ended up being 10-20 miles a week for a good portion of the spring.  When it was sunny, I would run the same 5k loop around campus.  When it wasn’t nice out, I wouldn’t run.  I would just go to the gym.

I mark St. Patrick’s Day as the official day I got my running start because at that point I considered myself someone who didn’t hate running anymore.  When you fail the mile test multiple times in grade school, it’s hard to like it.

I didn’t sign up for another race until the following July over break.  My dad had asked me if I wanted to run both an 8k, and 10k but I turned him down because it was too far.  From there, I slowly ran more and even walked on to my college D3 cross country team.  I never had a “stand out season” there, however it was what I needed at the time.  You can read my entire running story here.

One of my first collegiate cross country races.

After that, I began to consider myself a runner:

I didn’t run every day.
I didn’t run fast.
I didn’t log my mileage.
I didn’t run when it was the cold, windy or not perfect weather.
I had no desires to run with anyone or at a specific time…
I didn’t run any more races until July.
But I ran…and when I did I enjoyed it.

You’re a runner if you say you are and that is all that matters.

Questions for you:
When did you get your (workout) start?
How was your St. Patricks Day weekend?

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