There are so many good things about living here in the center of NJ, I could go on and on about them. And I've decided to do just that. Periodically I'm going to pick something that has recently made itself a pleasure in my life and tell you why it's a NJ Treasure, in hopes that you'll enjoy it too and have more pleasures in your life.
This installment features: Day Hikes. Here in the Center of NJ we have some forests and open space left, and there are a lot of places to take short hikes. We favor hikes that are 1-4 miles and not too hard, because two of the hikers in my family are under age 8. A week or two ago we visited Clayton Park in Upper Freehold, and it was just great. The trails were easy to follow, maintained and it was a good place for families with young kids or dogs. A big favorite: Plainsboro Preserve, part of the NJ Audubon Society, perfect for all ages. We recently hiked through Herronton Woods in Princeton, and while we enjoyed it, I would not recommend it if it has recently rained. It was a swamp, really. We've hiked up Sourland Mountain and had a fantastic time. Be sure to bring binoculars, because at the top you can see NYC, proving how flat NJ really is. The D-R Canal offers hiking opportunities through a big stretch of Central NJ.
Being family day hikers, we really appreciate well-maintained and marked trails. The only place we've found poor trails was Watson Woods in Hamilton. We tried to hike there yesterday, and while it was cool to be able to hike under the highway that cuts across the marsh, we left in about twenty minutes. The trails were not maintained at all, unmarked and horribly grown over with poison ivy. (We got the kids washed off quickly and seem to have escaped unscathed.)
There are a bunch of good NJ hiking books, such as Best Hikes In NJ with Children and Fifty Hikes in NJ, both probably available at your library. Check out NJ Trails site too. Get out and take a hike- one of New Jersey's Treasures.