Posted Monday, December 28th, 2015
There are plenty of great opportunities for outdoor activities in Morris County, Northwest Jersey and across the state over the upcoming holiday weekend, as the Morris County Park System and the state Department of Environmental Protection offer a series of walks and hikes and other nature possibilities.
“We hope many Morris County residents take advantage of our tremendous county park system and get outdoors for the New Year’s weekend,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “There are many amazing natural sites in our parks, great hiking and biking trails, plus some good, family friendly activities planned for our residents.”
The DEP’s State Park Service invites residents to get 2016 started on the right foot by taking part in fun, invigorating and educational outdoor activities to be offered statewide as part of the annual America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.
State Park Service staff and volunteers will conduct 18 guided hikes, walks, and interpretive tours, as well as two bike rides and a horseback ride at state parks, forests and historic sites at locations from the Highlands to Cape May. Most of the events will be held on Friday, Jan. 1.
Hikes in Northwest Jersey will take place at Waterloo Village, Kittatinny Valley State Park, and Stokes State Forest in nearby Sussex County.
For those who don’t mind a drive, other hikes are planned in Bass River State Forest, Belleplain State Forest, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Cheesequake State Park, Monmouth Battlefield State park, Rancocas State Park, Ringwood State Park, Round Valley Recreation Area, Spruce Run Recreation Area, Warren Grove Recreation Area (Bass River State Forest), Washington Crossing State Park, and Wharton State Forest.
Princeton Battlefield State Park will host hikes on Dec. 30 and Jan. 3.
All of these events are free. Most do not require pre-registration, but some do. For detailed information on starting times, how to dress, length and difficulty ratings for each hike, what to expect to experience, and which events require pre-registration, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/first_day_hikes.html
Morris County’s parks, meanwhile, will offer some great outdoor family fare:
Head over to the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township for this special scavenger hunt, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” Bring your camera or cell phone, as well as a good set of observant eyes. Find most of the items on the list and take home a prize for the entire family. There’s much happening in the gardens during the winter. You just have to look for it. Please note that the Arboretum is closed on Jan. 1.
Time: 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Location: Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Township, NJ 07960.
Cost: $10 per family. Contact: 973.326.7603
On this first weekend in January, take a guided walk designed for families and stroll the wooded trails to discover the unique animals and plants found at Pyramid Mountain.
Time: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Location: Pyramid Mountain, intersection of Mars Court and Boonton Ave in Montville N.J. 07045.
Cost: $2 per person age 3 & up. Contact: 973.334.3130. Preregistration is required
Join this van trip into NY and PA to view majestic, wintering Bald Eagles. Dress warmly and bring a bag lunch. Space is extremely limited. Register today. For ages 18 & Up.
Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Location: Meet at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, 247 Southern Blvd., Chatham, NJ 07928.
Cost: $35 per person. Contact: 973.635.6629. Preregistration is required.
Not only do these events provide opportunities to enjoy spectacular scenery, history lovers will appreciate offerings that will take them back to important events in American history, said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. The New Jersey State Park Service has been participating in First Day Hikes since this became a nationwide event in 2012.
“This is New Jersey’s fifth year participating in the initiative and each First Day event will offer an opportunity to explore the natural and cultural treasures of your favorite state parks, forests and historic sites,” said Mark Texel, Acting Director of the Division of Parks and Forestry, and a former official with the Morris County Park system.
“Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which will range from mile-long, accessible walks to a 15-mile-long, all-day hike. We invite you to experience the quiet beauty of our parks and historic sites in winter with the company of a knowledgeable state park guide or volunteer.”
The Official Facebook page for New Jersey State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites can be found at: www.facebook.com/NewJerseyStateParks
For more information on Morris County Parks visit: http://www.morrisparks.net/