A Few Easy Hikes/Walks

My friend sent me a link to an article on short hikes in New Jersey—15 Incredible Hikes Under 5 Miles Everyone In New Jersey Should Take—which included many that I have enjoyed but also a few new ones. It made me think of near-by short hikes I have taken over the years and how convenient they are from Mercer County. Sometimes you do not want to go for a long drive just to get to the hike, especially if the hike is 5 miles or less.

Two nice, easy hikes in the Jackson area (combine hiking with some outlet shopping!) are the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area and Perrineville Lake Park. Assunpink does not have a formal trail system, but does have dirt roads with lots of pull offs. You can ride around, park your car in various places, and get great views of the lake and wildlife. The Perrineville Lake Park trail brings you through fields and forest, with a beautiful lake view on your left. The terrain is not as flat as Assunpink, but is still easy to walk.

On the Hunterdon side of Mercer County, you can find two more short hikes. They are short enough that you can combine them into one trip or come back to enjoy them separately. Both are off of Mountain Road, not far from where Routes 31 and 202 come together—Omick Woods and the Laport Reserve. Omick Woods is a loop through old farmland, complete with rock wall ruins. The Laport Reserve is another loop trail. You walk along the edges of the former farm’s fields and through some of its woods.

The best part of these short hikes is the time you can take along the trail. You do not need to rush to beat the darkness or get done fast because of a long drive home. Instead, take along a few guidebooks and learn the names of local plants, insects and birds, or figure out which animal left those tracks. The Mercer County Library System has a variety of guidebooks to help you get the most out of your hike. Here are just a few—small enough to carry with good photos and pictures:
Hikes - Guidebooks
Pocket Guide to Trees and Shrubs of North America by Bland Crowder

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Eastern Region by William A. Niering

Field Guide to Birds of New Jersey by Rick Wright

Hikes 2 - Guidebooks
Scats and Tracks of the Northeast by James C. Halfpenny

A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies by Paul A. Opler

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders by Lorus Johnson Milne
Hikes 3 - Guidebooks
Pocket Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America by Catherine Herbert Howell

Rockhounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey

—Andrea at the Hopewell Branch

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