Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Explore & Discover Your Park System Trails

When you hear the word “trail” what comes to mind? Is it a winding dirt path under towering trees, or a wide paved path alongside a winding river or pond?

The National Recreation and Park Association conducted a survey among 1,005 adult Americans, and 36% stated they use a trail for hiking, running or walking. That’s one in three Americans visiting their local parks with friends, family members or pets to destress.

Monmouth County is truly a great place to live, being recognized as having one of the most beautiful park systems throughout New Jersey. As residents, we cherish our trails as the perfect balance between land and sea. These trails offer simple strolls along ocean, forest and river views, while others take you over isolated valleys. Some are easy and moderate flat paths, and others are more difficult taking you up and down hills; you pick your path!

Whether you’re running, walking or biking, Park System trails are ideal places to learn about and practice healthy lifestyles; connect with nature, history and culture; and relax in a setting removed from the noise and distractions of daily life. More importantly, spending time outdoors grants future generations the gift of learning to appreciate and enjoy nature. Being on trails allows children to step away from screens and get outdoors to use their imagination. Above all, it becomes a fun way for families to get fresh air, exercise and explore the great outdoors together.

Choosing a trail can be the most overwhelming part of getting outdoors. The Monmouth County Park System has over 16,000 acres of land and 139 miles of trails. That’s a lot of area to cover! It's important to find a trail that is best suited to your age and level of fitness. Here are some of the most popular trails in Monmouth County that inspire us to get out and discover:
  • If you haven’t been to Hartshorne Woods Park, you’re missing out on the best hiking and biking trails near the shore! A true Monmouth County favorite, Hartshorne Woods is a hilly, forested 787-acre site with over 14 miles of extensive trails for all levels, some of which offer amazing views of the Navesink River. 
  • Holmdel Park has a reputation as it is the site of a variety of cross country meets. The shady woods and rolling hills are the perfect setting for exploring over nine miles of trails. Be forewarned of “The Bowl” which has become infamous throughout the running community. While on this section of the trail, one first descends down around this long hill. Then, after the last turn, one travels up a steep 150-foot incline. It's the perfect challenge for the seasoned runner.
  • Tatum Park features over six miles of trails through rolling hills and open fields where you're sure to spot a variety of species of birds. Run or walk through the winding paths that take you through the oak forest and meadows of tulip trees. 
  • The scenic Manasquan Reservoir is popular for its five mile loop trail offering excellent views of wetlands, wooded forests and wildflower meadows. The area is home to 200 species of birds, including a Bald Eagle nesting pair. A favorite for all ages, the trail is wide and flat enough for strollers, bicyclists and horseback riders. 
  • The beautiful 988-acre, family-oriented Shark River Park has become a staple through the seasons. Nine miles of trails pass through several habitats, including a coastal river and floodplain, gravel-capped sandy hills, a cedar swamp, and several sphagnum bogs. 
But these are only a few of the trails that will get you discovering the outdoors. Learn about all the Monmouth County Park System trails so you can get out an explore all year round.

Now that we’ve shared some of our best trails with you, we’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your favorite trails and share photos with us of your adventures on our Facebook page. We'll see you in the parks!