Mountain biker catches stellar views at World’s End State Park

Loyalsock Canyon Vista

A tough mountain bike ride brought me to this lush view of the Loyalsock Canyon from 1,750 feet

Tucked away in the wilds of central Pennsylvania is the Loyalsock Canyon Vista in World’s End State Park.

To get to the 1,750-foot outlook, I took a series of logging roads on my mountain bike up  some of the toughest hills I have ever tackled. At the top I was awarded with a scenic view of the lush canyon.

There I breathed in the air, sucked some water out of my Camelback, then looped around the other side of the mountain where I took an amazing downhill trail at top speed. I thought I was going to fly off the mountain, but managed to keep my wheels to the trail, at least most of the time.

Then I rode on country roads for another hour or so, until I came across an ice-cream stand. Drenched in sweat and exhausted from the road, I sat down and savored some smooth, cool, berry-flavored ice cream.

It gave me enough power for another hour of riding until I finished off the day with a swim in the Loyalsock Creek. I slept well in my tent that night.

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Hikers rock Catfish Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail

View from the AT

We caught this beautiful view from atop the Catfish Fire Tower

We hiked the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap on Saturday to the Catfish Fire Tower, where we caught some beautiful views, saw some flowers and ate lunch. It was a great hike.

Flower

We saw some beautiful flowers along the Appalachian Trail.

Mountain bikers do 8 miles at Allamuchy

Rocky

This rocky trail at Allamuchy State Park is challenging for bikers, but not too challenging.

I drove into Hackettstown looking for a good trail and found that and more at Allamuchy Mountain State Park on Sunday. Exit 19 off of Route 80 took me to Route 517, which then took me to Deer Park Road. The road goes past a few quaint homes and then into the southern area of the park.

So I mounted my bike and hopped onto some single-track trails that took me on a half hour loop and landed me back in the parking lot. There, I encountered Tom, an avid mountain biker, former paratrooper and a police officer. He is thoroughly familiar with the park and offered to ride with me.

We went back on the trail, up some hills, down some hills, across wooden planks, and over some logs. It was a thrilling 8 mile ride, and I found myself sucking air as I tried to keep up with him. On our way back, we heard thunder and as we raced through the trees, rain poured down on us. We agreed however that the rain just added to the adventure. And of course when we got back to the parking lot the rain stopped.

If you hike or bike at Allamuchy be sure to bring plenty of water and check for ticks after you exit the forest.  Also, I would recommend printing a map of the park from the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association website.

Mud sweat and gears along the Paulinskill Valley Trail

Footbridge Park, in Blairstown, is one of the best places to hop onto the Paulinskill Valley Trail in Sussex County so that’s where I went with my mountain bike this Memorial Day.

Trail

Here, the Paulinskill Valley Trail nears Blairstown Airport.

After hoisting my bike off my car and strapping on my helmet, I dug into the soft black dirt trail at full speed kicking up specks of mud that stuck onto my face, legs and arms. Eventually I came to Blairstown Airport and the end of the trail so I turned around and pedaled in the opposite direction.

I crossed a couple of bridges, and even heard a kid yell “cowabunga!” as he jumped off of one of those bridges into the water. There was a bit of horse manure, and its accompanying smell along a few parts of the trail, but it was all good fun. The trail is flat as a pancake, so those who have a tough time on hills need not worry. After, I took an easy roll through Blairstown, where I saw some quaint shops and historic buildings. If you’re ever looking for a great spot to bike just dial 1 Footbridge Lane, Blairstown,  into your GPS and you’ll be at one of the best trails around.

Mountain bikers hit up the Six Mile Run Reservoir, Feltville

SOMERSET – Up the hill, round the bend, over the hump, watch the bump.

Bicycle fun

I couldn’t think of a better view for a Sunday afternoon than from the seat of my bike at Six Mile Run in Somerset.

That is the experience you will find mountain biking the Six Mile Run Reservoir in New Jersey’s Delaware Raritan Canal State Park. This Sunday we found the trails well maintained, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable.

Small bridges took us over streams, and a wooden ramp took us over a swampy grassy area. We found plenty of fellow mountain bikers – even one who helped us find our way when we got lost.

Don’t be deceived by the name Six Mile Run, the trails are nearly endless. Check out the map on the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association’s (JORBA) website.

After the three hour ride, we hit up IHOP and then stopped by the deserted Village of Feltville in Union County’s Watchung Reservation. The dilapidated homes are reminiscent of a different time.

I can’t wait until the next ride!

Olde time home in Feltville

This dilapidated home wastes away in the Village of Feltville.

Formerly spooky spot makes for a nice stroll

Greenery at Hilltop

Formerly the site of a sanatorium, trees and grass line the trails at Hilltop Reservation in Essex County.

I went for an easy Mother’s Day stroll at Hilltop Reservation with my parents on Sunday. We enjoyed the greenery and walked a couple of miles through an area that I once hiked and mountain biked regularly when I was young.

Hilltop Reservation, which was previously the site of Essex Mountain Sanatorium, functioned for most of my life as a peaceful and mysterious playground. I knew just about every trail that went through the area and even explored some of the crumbling buildings at the site before they were torn down. I mounted decaying stairways and explored shadowy hallways.

Although originally built as the Newark City Home For Girls in 1902, the land on what is now Hilltop Reservation, functioned as a 200-acre haven for those with tuberculosis for much of the 19th century, according to a history on EssexMountainSanatorium.net.

When medical treatment caught up with tuberculosis in the early 1950s, Essex County used vacant buildings at the sanatorium to house mental patients from nearby Overbrook Hospital, according to the history. The sanatorium stayed open until 1977.

Many, including local author Wheeler Antabez, explored the mysterious buildings that remained on the site for so long until they were torn down and the property turned into an Essex County Park, and K-Hovnanian homes.

Most recently, The Hilltop Conservancy, has worked to maintain and promote environmentally sound use of the area. This Saturday, May 19, the conservancy will host their 8th annual family hike/bike to start behind Courter Lane and Mountain Avenue in North Caldwell.

Have you ever seen a goose dance?

Quack goes the goose!

A goose struts its stuff down by Willowbrook Boulevard in Wayne.