A Long Walk

The library branch where I work, Hopewell, is closed on Election Day.  For the last few years and weather permitting, I have used that day to go for a long walk.  Long.  It is an incredible chance to immerse myself in the outdoors, concentrating on the sights and smells of nature, while listening to a good audiobook.  It’s the whole package – I get to do two things I love at the same time!

This year I walked the Mercer Meadows county park. I am lucky in that I can walk from my house to both my polling place and one of the park’s many access points – Curlis Woods in Pennington, New Jersey.

I’ve lived near Rosedale Park my entire life (does anyone remember the old barn off of Blackwell Road? My family drove by it every weekend on the way to visiting my grandparents), but it was only in the last several years that Rosedale was combined with the Mercer County Equestrian Center, Curlis Woods and Mercer County Park Northwest to form the sprawling Mercer Meadows Park. After exploring many areas of the park piece by piece, my Election Day walk was the first time I experienced the entirely of the park all at once. From start to finish, my walk was a little over 9.5 miles. I listened to the audiobook version of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, a Flavia De Luce mystery by Alan Bradley, from eLibraryNJ. Jane Entwhistle is the perfect narrator of Flavia’s detecting adventures. eLibraryNJ is a free service through the Mercer County Library – you can read or listen to thousands of eBooks and audiobooks on your smart phone, tablet, or PC. I can’t recommend it highly enough for keeping you company on a walk, and especially while doing yard work.

My route took me through Curlis Woods with lake views and passing by a Dawn Redwood. From there, I walked by the horses and in the fields of the Mercer County Equestrian Center. This brings you to Rosedale Park. I looped around Rosedale Lake and Willow Pond on the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, startling a heron, and coming out on Blackwell Road near the historic Hunt House. From there, the same trail took me to the Pole Farm District of the park. The AT&T Pole Farm consisted of fields of telephone poles and antennas routing all the telephone calls from the United States to Europe and other areas of the world. There are informative placards detailing the history in the Cold Soil Road/Keefe Road section.

Using the Twin Pines trail to create a circuit, I began working my way back on the Maidenhead Trail, eventually hooking up again with the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and retracing my steps around Rosedale Lake, the Equestrian Center, and Curlis Woods. I didn’t feel too tired as many of the trails are well-maintained and fairly level but my feet were ready to be done.

I have found that being able to recognize birds and trees adds to the enjoyment of walking. Even if you aren’t in a forest or field, there is a lot to see by the side of the road and in the sky. A few books that have helped me with identification are:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region by John L. Bull
Identifying Trees of the East: An All-Season Guide to Eastern North American by Michael D. Williams

The Mercer County Library System is home to many, many identification books.  Search our catalog using the keyword of what you are trying to identify (for example, “birds”) and “identification” to get a list of what is available or ask a staff member for assistance. You can find the one that best fits the type of information that interests you.

To find other parks in the area, take a look at the Mercer County Park Commission and New Jersey State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites webpages. The library also has a variety of walking and hiking guides to New Jersey that include the Mercer County area, including:

New Jersey Parks, Forests, and Natural Areas by Michael P. Brown
Hiking New Jersey by Paul E. DeCoste
AMC’s Best Day Hikes in New Jersey by Priscilla A. Estes
50 Hikes in New Jersey by Bruce Scofield

One last tip – I found it very convenient to have downloaded a map of Mercer Meadows onto my phone. I was able to easily check it anytime I wasn’t sure exactly which trail I needed for my route. Happy walking!

- Andrea M., Hopewell Branch


  1. You've inspired me. I'd seen references to Mercer Meadows, but didn't quite grasp the expanse of it. Thanks, Andrea!


Post a Comment