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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?

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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?

Exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park

Exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park

It’s taken me a little longer to catch up on blog posts about our vacation.  Between assimilating back into real life NJ, being sick, and preparation for the Philadelphia marathon weekend, it’s been busy.

Anyway, one of the best days my husband and I had was at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park are located in Southwestern Utah. We knew we wanted to go to both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park but timing-wise, it wasn’t going to work out to spend a lot of time at both. We decided to drive through Bryce Canyon and look out and then spend a little more time in Zion National Park.   They aren’t too far apart, so you are able to do both in one day.

Personally, we could both spend a lot of time in either.  Both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park are beautiful. Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will be able to go back and explore.

Bryce Canyon National Park: 

While visiting Bryce Canyon, we went out to Rainbow point and walked around.  There is a 10-mile rim trail hike you can do at Bryce Canyon and look over the Hoodoo Ampethetiar.  If we had more time, we would have done it! Bryce Canyon National Park is as beautiful as the Grand Canyon.

Bryce Canyon park itself is easily driveable.  From the entrance of Bryce Canyon, it’s about an 18-mile drive to the tip of Rainbow Point, and there are several spots and opportunities for photos at Bryce Canyon.

Zion National Park:

Like Bryce Canyon, we could spend days in Zion National Park.  Before arriving, we planned to do a longer hike at Zion National Park but quickly realized timing would not allow us too.

We still wanted to get back to Colorado and spend a few days there too!  When we arrived at Zion National Park, it was crowded and it was hard to even find parking.  By the time we were able to park at Zion National Park and get out of the car, it was nearly 1 pm. My recommendation for Zion National Park is getting there early.

We could have begun the hike at Zion National Park but it was a lengthy one and I didn’t want to be hiking at dark.  You had to take a bus to a certain location, then start, then take the bus back t0 the entrance of Zion National Park.  It was just a lot and if you’ve ever seen me hiking hangry…well…my husband would have left me there. Hiking in Zion National Park

So we just decided to explore Zion National Park and climb up to our own rock.  We didn’t have an exact trail or route but it was more fun that way.  We pulled over at a random spot at Zion National Park and just hiked.  Even with hundreds of people inside Zion National Park, we didn’t run into anyone.

Hiking in Zion National Park

Sitting in a rock seat

Hiking away from everyone was much better for us anyway.  If you ever go to Zion National Park, don’t be afraid to just stop and explore. Hiking in Zion National Park

You don’t need a trail or destination.  And yes, we actually made it up an entire rock.  You can see the main road of Zion National Park in the background.

To be honest, both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park were two of my favorite spots.  Eventually, my husband and I plan to go back.  You could spend days, weeks, and even months just exploring.

road trip through colorado

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

Running: 
Haunted Half Marathon 5k (19:40)
Two Weeks of Training: Easy Miles Out West

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)

Questions for you:

Where is your favorite place to hike?

Have you ever been to Zion or Bryce Canyon? 

 

Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

I have so much to recap with my trip to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.  I believe it will take close to 10 blog posts because we did something every day.  We went to Colorado with no plan but two plane tickets and a rental car.  We thought it would be cool to make it to other states, but if we didn’t…we didn’t…

I decided it would be easiest to recap through days (so I didn’t forget too)

road trip through colorado

Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder: 

As most people know, my husband and I like to hike.  We try and hit a mountain wherever we are.  I won’t say I’m a fantastic hiker, but it’s something we both enjoy doing.  We found a shorter hike in Boulder which seemed like it would be fun.  The mountain, called Flagstaff Mountain, kept confusing us because of Flagstaff, Arizona…

After taking Flagstaff Road and Baseline Road, we found a spot at the bottom of Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder) and headed up.  A hiker informed us it was rocky, and I thought: “well I’ve seen some rocks hiking before, ” but the Rocky mountains are so different.  I had recently purchased a pair of Brooks Cascadia (trail shoes) and I’m glad I did.

I don’t think I would have made it up to Flagstaff Mountain without trail shoes.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

To get up Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder), we started on the Gregory Canyon trail and intersected with the Ute trail at Realization point.  Together, the Flagstaff Mountain hike itself was 2 miles up and 2 miles back.  My husband and I have done easier 10-mile hikes out east than this one.  It was climbing the entire time, but you were rewarded with good views the whole time.  He believes we climbed about 2000 feet of elevation to get to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain.  In two miles, that is a lot.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

Throughout the hike up Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder), there were plenty of excellent views of Colorado State University (which I tried just to absorb some running speed).

We first made it to the “realization point.”  Where I realized what a mistake I made hiking in Colorado (just kidding).  It is accessible by car as well if you wanted to drive and park up there. It’s a gorgeous view of Boulder!

Then we continued our hike up to the peak of Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder) which was gorgeous.  From the summit of Flagstaff Mountain, you could see more of the rocky mountains.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

While coming down Flagstaff Mountain, we saw a family hiking up.  Their 3-4-year-old daughter was hiking up what I considered one of the hardest mountains I’ve done.  I kept thinking: if this mountain baby can do it, so can I.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

The Flagstaff Mountain hike itself was moderate, and I don’t think without trail shoes I would have made it to the top.  I’ve hiked plenty of old running shoes but based on the rocks; I think trail shoes are necessary.

So far Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder) is one of my favorite hikes I’ve done.

Other Hikes We’ve Done:

California:
Hiking the Hollywood Sign (LA)

New York:
Getting Lost at Bear Mountain (Part 2)

New Jersey:
Sunfish Pond
Seeing a Bear at Sunfish Pond
Hiking the Stairway to Heaven
Hiking Hemlock Falls

North Carolina:
Hiking Greybeard Trail (Asheville)

Questions for you:
What is your favorite hike?  Is there anywhere near you? 
Have you been to Flagstaff Mountain (Boulder)? 

Run the Vineyards 5k (20:30)

The day after running the Panther Prowl I decided to run an XC course. Last month I raced the Run the Vineyards Grapes and Peaches 10k.  The race was well put together and one of my favorite races so far this year.  I knew that eventually I would want to do another Run the Vineyards Race.  I haven’t been fond of doing long runs on Sundays lately, so I decided to do the Run the Vineyards 5k instead.

I arrived at the race around 8:20. It was further than anticipated, but I was able to sign up, warm up and then make it to the race start. At the starting line, I noticed a younger kid with a GoPro attached to his head. He looked pretty serious, and I assumed he would win (Spoiler: he did).

The race went off with no issue.  I immediately found myself as the second person overall. After .1, I stayed at that position the entire time. I could always see the GoPro kid in front of me, but I didn’t have the energy or speed to catch him. Immediately into the race, we made a hard turn into the Vineyard. It was grassy, muddy and wet. It was the typical cross country terrain. The first mile weaved in and out of Vineyards and through a wide open field. I found the open field to be the muddiest. We crossed over some soft sand, and my watch beeped a 6:20 first mile.  That was actually faster than I anticipated.

The second mile went through more of the field and passed over a road into another Vineyard. During the crossing I noticed there were wild turkeys ahead. Thankfully one of the volunteers began chasing them away because I was terrified. During the second mile, my legs started to feel the effect of the course. I haven’t run on trails or grass in a while, let alone mud or flooded terrain. I felt myself drastically slowing, but I wasn’t surprised. I ran the second mile in 6:36.

The third mile went back towards the start. It was an out and back course, so we ran by people running the opposite direction. I was slowly becoming more tired, and my legs were fatigued. I felt like I was running through quicksand! The third mile of any 5k is frequently boring and uneventful. I focused on finishing. We did a giant loop through 2 Vineyard trails and all of a sudden I could see the finish line. I ran the last mile in 6:56 and finished in 20:30.

Awkward photo of the day goes to me...

Awkward photo of the day goes to me…

Thoughts:

It’s impossible to compare cross country times to road race times. I had a great race, and I have missed running on open fields. I plan to look for several more cross country style races before Winter.  This time is closer to my previous road 5k times from earlier in the summer.  That shows a huge improvement because this course was much more difficult.

I had a great time and had no regrets.  I even won a bottle of wine. I enjoy the Run the Vineyards races, so I am hoping to do the last couple before next season. I recommend them to anyone in the NJ/PA area.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite type of wine?

Do you like cross country races?

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