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.

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Hiker rides with the Trail Angels

Salamander

Encountered this little guy along the Appalachian Trail in Warwick, N.Y. on Sunday

I hiked with Aaron Schoenberg, his dog Trekker and a few “Trail Angels” on the Appalachian Trail in Warwick, N.Y. Sunday. We met up with a through-hiker who goes by the name Trotter and several others along the trail. The hikers, who were months into their journeys, enjoyed the goodies Trail Angels provided.

Hikers rock the trails at Ringwood

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Set in Passaic and Bergen counties is Ringwood State Park. The trails, which can be seen on this map courtesy of the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Assocation (JORBA), range from easy to advanced and on Sunday we chose the hilly, swampy, and rocky ones.

We took the Ringwood-Ramapo Trail from Ringwood Manor to Shepherd Lake, where we enjoyed water-ice and Gatorade from a snack stand. I was quite surprised when we popped out of the woods to find a thriving beach with boat rentals, lifeguards and even people flying kites. On the way back we explored some heavy machinery in the middle of the woods and even found a tree with a bit of an evil smiling face on it.

We explored just a small portion of a great park and I look forward to the next time I go back.

Tourne Park makes for nice hike with a swampy view

After a picnic with friends at the Tourne Park in Denville Saturday afternoon, I went for a stroll through a pleasant trail in the park. It was a good way to work off the food that I had eaten at the picnic – donuts and chocolate covered rice cakes. Yum! Along the way I passed over a creek and walked along what appeared to be a swamp full of dying trees. We saw a couple of mountain bikers and some fellow hikers along the way. If you are looking for an easy hike, or a good place to mountain bike, I would highly recommend the Tourne.

Swamp

A swamp makes for an interesting view at the Tourne Park in Morris County

Leaves

A hiker strolls along the tree lined trail

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.