Wednesday, April 3, 2019

National Walking Day 2019

The first Wednesday of April is designated as National Walking Day, started in 2007 by the American Heart Association to remind people of the health benefits of walking. Adding a simple walk into your routine is an easy way to get active. "Research has shown that walking can have a significant impact on your health by lowering your chances of heart disease," informs the American Heart Association. Additional health benefits include:
  • maintaining a healthy weight;
  • preventing conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes; 
  • strengthening bones and muscles;
  • improving mood;
  • and improving balance and coordination. 
Adding a walk to your daily or weekly routine is easy to work into your schedule with so many Monmouth County parks with gorgeous trails. You can take a walk during your lunch break, or head out as a family or with friends after work or on weekends. If you're brining along your four-legged friend(s), please remember that dogs are required to remain leashed within your Monmouth County parks.

Easy rated trails are perfect for a walk as they are short and well-maintained. Here are just a few Monmouth County parks to check out that have trails marked as "easy":

Clayton Park, Upper Freehold

You'll feel miles away from the hustle and bustle in this rustic 450-acre park. The 0.7-mile Glen Trail loop runs through the heart of Clayton Forest. Access to this trail is from the Clayton Park Emley's Hill Road parking lot. 

Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown

A walk through Deep Cut, especially in spring and summer, is probably the most colorful walk you'll find in the county. For a shorter walk, head from the main parking lot down to the Display Garden, then head back toward the Display Greenhouse and walk through to see the orchids, succulents, bonsai and more. From there, walk through the Shard Garden and toward the Rose Parterre to check out the 54 varieties of rose bushes (at peak bloom in June) and the pergola at the end of the garden. Head back and be sure to go past the Lily Pond and check out the water lilies, bog plants, koi and goldfish. Looking for a longer walk? Check out the unpaved walkways throughout the park that will take you through other natural areas of Deep Cut Gardens including the Meadow Walk, a woodland meadow featuring four groves of trees: chestnut, oak, maple and ash.

Hartshorne Woods Park, Atlantic Highlands/Highlands

This 794-acre site overlooking the Navesink River is well-known by hikers and mountain bikers for having the most extensive and challenging trails in the Park System. But, there are a handful of terrific easy trails at Hartshorne Woods Park too! From the Buttermilk Valley entrance, off of Navesink Avenue, you'll find the King's Hollow Trail, a 0.7-mile trail through oak trees and wildflowers, and the Candlestick Trail, a 1.5-mile loop with abundant mountain laurels and wooded overlook. Up at the Rocky Point section, accessed from Portland Road, the Battery Lewis and Lewis Overlook trails offer the perfect opportunity to check out Historic Battery Lewis and see some magnificent views of the river.

Hominy Hill Golf Course, Colts Neck

Hominy Hill Golf Course Trail
Yes, this may be the site of one of New Jersey's #1 public golf courses, but did you know Hominy Hill Golf Course also has a trail accessed from a lot off of Matthews Road? Though rated as moderate due to the more rustic conditions, this 1-mile trail meanders through serene woods and is great if you're looking to catch a glimpse of wildlife. Please note that for safety reasons, trail users are not permitted on the golf course.

Manasquan Reservoir, Howell

Known for its gorgeous surroundings and 5-mile perimeter trail, the Manasquan Reservoir is also home to a short nature trail. The 0.5-mile Bracken Trail can be accessed from the Environmental Center parking lot and offers informational panels describing the plants and wildlife found along the water. After your walk, stop in at the Environmental Center to learn about the local wildlife as well as the importance of water in our world.

Weltz Park, Oakhurst

Another terrific, nature-filled walk awaits at beautiful Weltz Park. The 0.9-mile Sweetbriar Trail begins at the West Park Avenue parking lot and meanders through this undeveloped park filled with meadows. To make your walk a bit longer, you can add the 0.4-mile Eastern Loop that connects to Sweetbriar. Keep your eyes peeled for birds and butterflies at this serene park site.

These are just some of your Monmouth County parks to enjoy a relaxing walk that will add to your fitness routine. Other great parks with trails rated as easy are Big Brook Park, Marlboro; Henry Hudson Trail; Holmdel Park, Holmdel; Huber Woods Park, Middletown; Shark River Park, Wall; Sunnyside Recreation Area, Lincroft; Tatum Park, Middletown; Thompson Park, Lincroft; Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold; and the Union Transportation Trail, Upper Freehold. For a full list of our parks with trails, click here.

Always be sure to pick up a park brochure before you head out on your walk so you can follow the trail map. Or, download the ESRI mobile app that offers interactive trail maps to help guide your way.

"Walking". American Heart Association.