Well, hey ho, trailheads. As of this writing, it finally feels like spring is here. Here in New Jersey, between two nor’easters and several days of snow, it felt like winter definitely wore out its welcome. Even after the snow melted, we had several prolonged periods of cold temperatures, which didn’t make being outside all that fun. On top of that, March and April were pretty wacky months on the work front, which didn’t leave much time for hiking. Or blogging. Continue reading
Taking a bit of a break from the graduate thesis writing to bring you my second posting about Acadia National Park, from our trip earlier in the summer. Last time, I told you about the joys of biking up a really steep trail to Witch’s Hole. So this time, I’m taking you down to the southern end of Acadia, to Jordan Pond.
Jordan Pond is a glacial lake formed during the Ice Age, so say the geologists. It is framed in on three sides by mountains: the Bubbles to the north, Penobscot to the west and Pemetic to the east. And on the southern edge you’ll find the Jordan Pond House.
Repeat after me, boys and girls: There is no shame in walking your bike up a steep trail.
Once more, with feeling: There is no shame in walking your bike up a steep trail.
I freely admit that as a biker, steep hills and I do not get along. I can set a pretty good pace on suburban roads and flatland woods trails, but I generally leave the serious mountain biking to the really serious extreme sports types. (Aside from the occasional round of ziplining – see also: Hunter Mountain – I generally prefer my sports to be non-extreme. But I digress.)
The family and I were on a week-long trip to Maine in mid-August. Lots of hiking, biking, kayaking. And I’m pleased to report that I got plenty of fodder for the blog, including two visits to Acadia National Park. One day involved a bike ride around the northern end of the park, which I am describing to you here, and a side visit to Sieur de Monts (that’s for another entry). The other was a visit down to Jordan Pond (also for another entry).
Well, now, trail heads, you’ve probably been wondering where your trail head in chief has been this winter.
I wish I could tell you that I was off on a long-distance hike in Australia or South America, or perhaps off on a mountain-climbing expedition in the Rockies or the Pyrenees.
But the truth of the matter is, between some ghastly weather in New Jersey this winter, a transition into a new job and not one but two graduate school classes this winter and spring, my hiking time has been severely curtailed. And by extension, so has my blogging time.
This weekend, having finally caught up on some things, I packed up my water bottle, binoculars and copy of “Birds of Eastern North America” and headed someplace I’ve not hiked yet: Watchung Reservation in Union County.
I’m always joking that if Washington Irving wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow today, Brom Bones would never be able to ride down from Ossining in time for the Van Tassels’ party because he’d be stuck in traffic on Broadway.
Now, the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, on the other hand, just up the hill from Tarrytown’s business district…you can definitely imagine the Headless Horseman barreling through here. Yes, never mind that the aqueduct, now the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, was built quite a bit after Irving’s time. Today, instead of water, it carries walkers, hikers, bikers, and on certain sections of the trail, horseback riders. And yours truly got to check out the trail – long an item on my hiking to-do list – during a weekend outing with the family back in November.
How has Tripod Rock not fallen over after all these years?
That was my first thought upon coming across said natural feature at the top of Pyramid Mountain. And if you’ve ever visited Tripod Rock, that has doubtless been one of your first thoughts as well.
That is exactly what it is: a giant boulder perched atop three smaller boulders, deposited there millennia ago by a moving glacier during the Ice Age. The technical term for it, as I understand, is a glacial erratic. And there it has stood, weathering the ravages of time, storms and probably more than one would-be-vandal.
I actually saw a couple of kids and parents who were gutsy enough to go crawling around in the space underneath the main boulder, all the better for taking selfies. I myself would be a bit squeamish about having that much tonnage of rock directly above me.
So, Erin, you may ask, tell me more about where I might find this mammoth Mesozoic monstrosity? Well, sit ye down, children, and I’ll tell you all about it – and some other cool features besides.
This is a public service announcement from your esteemed blogger-in-chief.
If you’re going to put in new hedging around your house, do NOT plant barberry. Please. Your friendly neighborhood invasive species removal crews will be eternally grateful. (Besides, a couple of states have made it illegal to plant barberry, because it’s such a nuisance of a plant.)
As many of you probably know, it was National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4. I’d joined the Invasive Species Task Force from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference up at Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park in just-barely-upstate-New York the year before. We’d spent an energetic – albeit prickly – morning removing barberry bushes, a shrub once popular for hedging but now deemed an invasive species, hence the PSA. I was game to try again – and crews would be planting some native species plants along the now barberry-free slope.
My mom was up for a visit and she was game to join in, so Saturday morning found us making the amble up the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
Here in the burbs of northern New Jersey, you’d probably expect that it’s hard to find a decent patch of woods in which to go hiking. But thankfully, we have a few such patches, including one that is literally up the hill from me.
Eagle Rock Reservation is perched high up on the ridge of the First Watchung, straddling the town lines of Montclair, Verona and West Orange. Like South Mountain Reservation down in Millburn, Eagle Rock is under the aegis of the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.
We finally got a weekend where the temperatures weren’t bone-chillingly freezing, or that it was either raining or snowing cats and dogs. So I spent that Sunday afternoon treating myself to a few hours of light hiking.
I’d like to share with you a little bit about the last stop we made on the Pennsylvania Park Hop back in the summer; on our last full day, we paid a visit to Ole Bull State Park in Potter County.
There are quite a few hiking trails that run through the park, several of which are also graded as snowmobile trails in the winter. (In fact, in this part of Pennsylvania, you’ll see quite a few road signs marking snowmobile trails.)
The park is included in the Susquehanna Trail System – it’s an entire network of hiking trails running through the Susquehanna River Valley in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. So you’ll find one of the trails (orange-blazed) running through the park, one of the longer walks here. There are a number of shorter walks, including the Castle Vista Trail, the Daugherty Loop and the Beaver Dam Nature Trail, all three of which we checked out.
Another year gone by already – well, that didn’t take long. And it’s apparently that time of year again to reflect on how 2015 was for hiking.
My hiking time this fall was a bit limited, especially due to a rather brain-draining graduate school project that I had to wrap up over the last few weeks. (It’s also the reason why the blog’s been a little quiet of late. So I beg your indulgence on that one, oh trail heads.)
All things considered, it was a pretty awesome year for outdoor pursuits. I got to take on a short chunk of the Appalachian Trail back in June, during a National Trails Day gathering up at Bear Mountain. Took a first run out on some cool multi-use trails, including the Columbia Trail out in western New Jersey and the Pine Creek Rail Trail out in central Pennsylvania.