Updated: Jan 14
Similar to everyone else in the US this year, we've had to up our "socially distanced activity" game in order to maintain sanity. This has largely consisted of hiking, which was already my favorite dog-friendly pastime. I really believe it doesn't get much better than spending time in the great outdoors with your best canine buddy.
I introduced the "Hike New Jersey" series back in March with Rattlesnake Swamp Trail. Since then I've spent so much time hiking, I haven't had a lot of time to gather my thoughts and write about it. But now that the weather has turned for the worse, we're back. Hopefully you'll be inspired to get out there and try a new trail once the sun is out (or when Spring comes along, if you're a fair weather hiker).
This year we found ourselves hiking along the Manasquan Trail located at Turkey Swamp Park several times (I will eventually write about a place where the word "swamp" isn't included, I promise). Using the main park road, this trail can be pieced together to create an approximately three mile loop. Park at the Archery Range and walk back toward the entrance if you prefer to end your hike near the car.
The main park road will lead you back to the lake and picnic shelters you passed driving in. The Manasquan Trail head will begin at your left. The trail includes a lot of open forest with plenty of shade along the way.
Hikers bear in mind that you may cross paths with equestrians on this trail. Be sure to follow the yielding rules and allow them to pass. Horses can be easily startled, especially if there is a dog around, so be sure to stay still and keep your dog quiet as they pass.
Once you veer off the main road onto the trail, there won't be any trash cans to dispose of dog waste until you reach the end of the trail. I recently discovered the "Pack Out Bag" from Ruffwear made for just such occasions. This is a great way to practice Leave No Trace Principles without tying the smelly bag to your dog's leash or harness, which I can't help but imagine is offensive to their extremely sensitive olfactory system.
Continue along the trail and you will eventually find yourself at the Manasquan River. There are even a couple of access points for your dog to dip their toes in the water. Soon after you'll find a bench near the waterside. This is an excellent mid-way point to stop, rest, and rehydrate!
Keep walking until you reach the main park road. Turn right to return to the Archery Range parking area.
While Manasquan Trail is by far the longest, there are plenty of other trails at this park to explore. You could even mix and match some trails if you'd like something longer. If you don't have an entire day to dedicate to hiking but are still looking for a decent length to make the drive worth while, Manasquan Trail is your best bet. We've done it several times now and enjoy it each time!
Happy trails, everyone!