Finding Family Time, Fitness and Fun in your own backyard. Hiking through Hunterdon County.
If you are like our family, the anticipation of summer was exciting. Shortly after spring break, the kids and I began to crack. We were ready for a break. The weeks passed slowly but I waited with baited breath and counted each week like a child counts down to a birthday. I scoured advertisements and blogs planning the activities that would fill each of my children’s days. I was confident with the right planning and the right attitude the children would look back reminiscing about the small moments we spent exploring and experiencing Hunterdon County this summer.
Though we have lived here nearly seven years, it came as a surprise to me that Hunterdon County had so many hiking trails and parks. Our family had one tried and true trail in High Bridge but when I looked at the Parks and Recreation map I was floored at all I was missing. This summer it was my goal to branch out and experience trails entirely new to our family. This wasn’t a difficult task at all as I simply began searching Hunterdon County and the Parks and Recreation Department website. Though my family holds the Columbia Trail near and dear I felt like we could branch out, seek uncharted territory and lengthen our list of favorites.
One sunny Sunday, our entire family lathered up with sunscreen and headed to the Hunterdon County Arboretum. We had driven past this amazing facility time and time again but had never taken the time to explore what lay behind those gates. With a large family, it is often hard to find an activity to suit everyone that is affordable, but hiking seems to be our go to when it comes to time together.
Though hiking is not for everyone, there are a number of local hiking trails that will meet the needs of all families including those pushing strollers or those with little ones toddling behind as mom and dad blaze the trail and search for the next place to explore. When we chose the arboretum, we had no idea the amazing opportunities it had in store. Outside of the trails, there were exhibits on composting, opportunities to search out fun paths and a number of different gardens full of native plants and flowers.
All trails are not the same but this time spent together in nature will encourage connection that helps to build bonds and create memories that last for years to come. For our own family, we continue to chuckle at the time daddy got us lost hiking in the Pocono Mountains and mom had to talk him out of crossing Interstate 80 to get back to the car. The extended six hour tour resulted in the children’s first time tasting a sports drink.
If you are new to hiking or intimidated by the potential that the trails are just too hard for your family, finding paths that will take your family on its own adventures is no problem in Hunterdon County. Here are a few things to consider as you begin your own journey out on a hike.
Things to Consider before hiking with your kids in Hunterdon County
- Which of the 28 Area Parks and Trail Locations works for You: Located all around Hunterdon County there are many parks that have amazing family oriented trails. Most trails are self guided hiking trails that have options for short jaunts as well as hikes that take hours. Some of our favorites are The Columbia Trail and Spruce Run. Look at the trail maps prior to heading out and make sure there is at least one that will meet your family needs.
- Easy Access: If you are new to hiking make sure there is at least one easy access trail. This helps families with little ones just beginning and it also instills a sense of accomplishment when that tiny tot finishes up that trail with mom and dad cheering them on.
- Proximity to home: Choose a trail that is close to home at first. If your child only makes it half way, you are not far from home and you are able to return without feeling overwhelmed or stressed by the experience itself.
- Many Free Locations: Take a look at the parks you are considering. Most are free or have a nominal fee. Some also offer many amenities such as swimming, fishing and boating.
- Keep A Journal: As you begin your hiking journey with family, consider a journal that will allow you to track which parks and paths work best for you. This is also a great way to document funny moments or stories that happen as you hike together.
- Additional Opportunities for Fun: If you are looking to make a day of your adventure, check the website to see what else that particular park or trail has to offer. You may be surprised by what is hiding in your own backyard.
The Hunterdon County Arboretum, our hiking adventure
The children began their time just hanging around waiting for us to be figure out exactly which Hunterdon County Arboretum trail to take. In the end it was quite easy. At least three trails intersected making it simple to find your way back to the beginning.
We really enjoyed the Hunterdon County Arboretum for the many things it had to offer but we cannot wait to get back on the trails in Hunterdon and explore the many other options families at their fingertips to get creative and make memories.
Hunterdon County Arboretum Amenities:
- A Headquarters Office with Facilities
- A Hand On Composting Demonstration
- A Children’s Area called “The Wizard Walk”
- Photo Opportunities
- Trees and Plants Identified with Plaques
- Easy Trails Passable on Foot
- Benches Along the Trails
Hiking has always been a tradition in our family that brings us back into nature and back to connecting with each other. This summer as we make our way deeper into the dog days of summer, we plan to explore more trails and parks around Hunterdon County and we can’t wait to see what each area has to offer. Be sure to check our our album on Facebook to see what else the Hunterdon County Arboretum had going on when we visited this summer.