New Jersey residents and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the state’s splendid scenery and great trails by participating in a variety of recreational activities in conjunction with the 24th Annual National Trails Day to be celebrated statewide and nationally Saturday, June 4.
From hiking and cycling, to horseback riding and kayaking, to nature watching and taking part in trail maintenance projects, residents are encouraged to get outdoors and connect with nature, even if only for part of the day.
“With some 1,500 miles of trails in the state, odds are there’s one nearby for you and your family to explore,” said Department of Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin. “Despite being the mostly densely populated state in the nation, New Jersey boasts a remarkable diversity of trails and wild places waiting for you to discover.”
Want more outdoor fun? Check out Hopewell Valley Come Outside and Play activities for the following week.
An initiative of the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1993 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the National Trails System Act. It is now an annual event designed to promote the many attributes of recreational trails.
Last year, National Trails Day participants across the country hiked 354,000 miles – equivalent to 14 times around the earth, according to the American Hiking Society. They also biked 123,000 miles, paddled 14,000 miles, and rode 36,000 miles on horseback. In addition, 24,700 volunteers built and maintained 1,500 miles of trails.
“For just a few hours or, even better, for a full day, unplug from the wired world and reconnect with the wild world,” said State Parks and Forestry Director Mark Texel. “Whether you live in a city, suburb or a rural area, there is probably a trail nearby where you can walk, jog, cycle, ride a horse, canoe, walk the dog, kayak or simply observe nature. There’s even a really good chance that you will run into someone very interesting to talk to coming around the next bend.”
National Trails Day develops a public understanding of the importance of recreational trails and the efforts needed to establish, preserve and maintain them. Trails provide health and fitness opportunities, outdoor classrooms to study nature, greenways for wildlife conservation, links to history and regional tourism opportunities.
“You don’t have to be a hardcore hiker or be super-fit to take part in National Trails Day,” Director Texel said. “There are plenty of options available for everyone, and many of them very suitable for families with young children and senior citizens.”
Dozens of activities are planned on National Trails Day for trail enthusiasts and novices across New Jersey. The Mercer County activities include:
Johnson Trolley Trail, Ewing. Sat, 6/4 – “Ribbon cutting/inauguration of Johnson Trolley Trail section.” 10:00 am – 11:00 am. The Township received a grant from the Recreational Trails Program in 2012 to improve 2550’ of the old Johnson Trolley Trail, and is finishing the project now. Meet at Johnson Trolley Trail at end of Whitehead Road Extension. Take Ewingville Road to Whitehead Road Ext (turn at Mercer Arc Bld) to dead end. No RSVP required. Contact: Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609- 883-2900 ext. 7605.
Mercer County Park, West Windsor. Sat, 6/4 – “Trail Work at Mercer County Park.” 9:00 am – 12:30 pm. Join the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association (JORBA) to do maintenance on Mercer County Park trails. Work will include clipping back thorns, remediating any erosion, clearing drainage and removing fallen branches. Come give back some love to the trails we ride, hike and run on! Meet at Mercer County Park Marina – the address is 334 South Post Road – it is on the south side of the lake. Use the main entrance (Paxson Rd) off of Old Trenton or Paxson Rd off of Hughes Drive. Waivers will need to be signed. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. No RSVP required. Contact: JORBA at email@example.com.
Washington Crossing State Park, Hopewell. Sun, 6/5 – “Goat Hill Overlook Hike.” 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm. Goat Hill Overlook is an outlier of Washington Crossing State Park. The 213-acre tract sits on a bluff overlooking the Delaware River in West Amwell Twp. and boasts commanding views of the Delaware Valley including portions of Lambertville, New Hope and areas north and west into Bucks County, PA. The tract contains extensive hardwood and mixed oak forests, open fields, numerous rock outcrops, a former diabase quarry and hiking trails. We will meet in Washington Crossing State Park at the park pond on Church Rd and carpool to the overlook for an exploration hike. The terrain will be rugged. Wear hiking shoes and bring drinking water. RSVP required via phone: 609-737-0609. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For details on all New Jersey National Trails Day activities, including directions, contact information, RSVP requirements (if applicable) and other key facts, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/trails/day.html
For more information on National Trails Day from the American Hiking Society, visit: http://nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org/