I’ve been living in New Jersey for 25 of my 31 years now and I am still finding new places to explore here. I used to be jealous of my friends on the West Coast for having year-round sunshine and exquisite hikes, and while we are all probably Vitamin D deficient on the East Coast, we still have access to a lot of beautiful places.
Over the weekend we took a hike with some friends to Franklin Parker Preserve in Chatsworth, NJ. One of the best parts of being in the Pine Barrens is there’s a lot of woods to play in, also the Jersey Devil. Folks down here are extremely proud of Jersey Devil lore, and almost everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who swears they had a run in with it.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Pine Barrens is an immense ecosystem of unique sandy, acidic pine forests that covers nearly 25% of the state. It’s one of the three remaining on the East Coast, and NJ is home to the largest one. Plus, there’s a pretty good episode of The Sopranos featuring it.
We hiked through a little over six miles of Franklin Parker Preserve and covered forest areas, sandy open trails, little ponds and streams, open lakes and swamps, and we didn’t even cover it all.
It was very easy to socially distance, as we barely ran into anyone else. I was thankful for this, since this is the first hike I’ve taken since February in L.A. — my body was not as thankful, though because…this is the first hike I’ve taken in six months and ouch. But it was worth it!
If you’re looking for a new trail to try, I can definitely recommend this one. And if you’ve been, I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did! It can be so easy to take our home-states for granted, but I’ve been trying to embrace mine a little more and more each year. Especially now, while we can’t travel too far from home.
Happy trails, and check for ticks!