Why Walk Trails?
Everyone knows walking is good for you. From losing weight to improving your mood, walking provides real, measurable whole-body health as stated by the Mayo Clinic. Some say you need 10,000 steps a day. In fact, Harvard Health Publishing reports that just 2.5 hours of walking a week can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%!
Walking is Good. Hiking in Nature is Better!
Hiking through forests can have a profound effect on both your physical and mental health. Fortunately right here in central New Jersey we have access to miles-upon-miles of trails through lush meadows, under tall forests, along babbling brooks, and up to scenic vistas overlooking rivers and valleys. Here in the mid-Atlantic we enjoy all four seasons, each special in its own way from the bright greens and wildflowers of Spring, to the explosion of autumnal colors in the Fall.
A defining feature of our region is the Sourland Mountain, which at 90 square miles, comprises the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey. This unique deciduous forest, replete with red maple, white oak, hickory, and soaring tulip trees, offers miles of often-hilly trails for a good workout. Here you will see boulder fields of igneous rock leftover from its volcanic/tectonic formation 200 million years ago. Much of this land is preserved and remains one of the most undeveloped areas of the most densely populated state in the nation.
Already this sounds better than walking on sidewalks next to traffic, right? In the 1980s the Japanese coined a term for getting out in nature for a stroll or a strenuous hike: “Forest Bathing” or “Shinrin-Yoku.” This physio- and psychological exercise offers an eco-antidote to tech burnout, which we all experience these days by an over-abundance of “screen time.” Simply put, it is a science that supports what we already know: time spent in nature is good for you. Walking through green areas with trees leads to increased positivity and can help your brain function better to aid memory and sharpen your thinking.
The National Park Service states that hiking reduces stress, calms anxiety, and reduces the risk of depression. In addition to mental health benefits, being outdoors improves your sensory perception. Taking in the sights, smells, and feelings of nature has so many health benefits it can even be prescribed by a doctor. Better yet, hiking with friends, family, and loved ones strengthens the bonds of relationships.
Each of the hikes on this website offer plenty of nature to soak up, whether on the mountain or in the valley. So pick out a trail, lace up some sturdy shoes, grab a walking stick, and get out there!
When out on the trail, please observe social distancing practices and trail restrictions regarding usage of mountain bikes and horseback riding. Obey the law to keep dogs leashed on all of these trails. Leave no garbage behind. Please be respectful of nature and others on the trail.