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Hi all. I was hoping I could get some reccomendations on my first loop hike. I'm a total newbie. I've never hiked before. I am still in the process of buying my must have gear. I should have everything I need within a week or so. I'm also still reading through the Complete Idiot's Guide to Hiking. I should be through it by the end of the week. I hope to go on my first day hike in a week or so. I live in Ridgefield, NJ but don't mind driving an hour or so. Can anyone reccomend a beginner loop hike? I'd also need some type of resource for maps. I'm a little confused about how to get maps for the trails I plan to hike. I may be in information overload. It seems like there are millions of hiking related websites, but not many with actual maps. I appreciate any help. Thanks.=)

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Hi Mike - you could consider Pyramid Mountain – Tripod Rock in Boonton, it's a nice beginner hike and it's also popular so there is usually someone on the trails if you have questions. In Ridgefield, you are also right near Palisades Interstate Park.

We have some beginner hiking info over on our NJ Hiking 101 and a page devoted to short beginner hikes.

Trail maps can often be found in hike books, on individual park websites as PDFs, and print-outs at trail heads - try our trail maps page where we've collected links to many in the NJ area.

There are also excellent maps from the NY-NJ Trail Conference that show trails on topographic maps for northern NJ and into NY... highly recommended... get one and you'll be amazed at the amount of trails in this state!

Nearest to you would be the Jersey Highlands or North Jersey set, and there is one that covers the Palisades as well.

Hope that helps a bit!

--Dawn

Dawn,

Thank you for all your advice. I think I'm going to take a trip to the Palisades Interstate Park. Their website is giving me a migraine. I was able to print out a map. Not sure how well I'm going to do. The map does not seem very detailed. Wish me luck. I'll take my cell phone in case I need to call for help. 

I was able to print out a few free maps from the NY NJ Trail Conference site. The maps seem to be a little lacking so I'll just go ahead and pick up a more detailed map book. 

Thanks again for you help Dawn. I'll just have to take it slowly and hope I don't get lost! =)



njHiking.com said:

Hi Mike - you could consider Pyramid Mountain – Tripod Rock in Boonton, it's a nice beginner hike and it's also popular so there is usually someone on the trails if you have questions. In Ridgefield, you are also right near Palisades Interstate Park.

We have some beginner hiking info over on our NJ Hiking 101 and a page devoted to short beginner hikes.

Trail maps can often be found in hike books, on individual park websites as PDFs, and print-outs at trail heads - try our trail maps page where we've collected links to many in the NJ area.

There are also excellent maps from the NY-NJ Trail Conference that show trails on topographic maps for northern NJ and into NY... highly recommended... get one and you'll be amazed at the amount of trails in this state!

Nearest to you would be the Jersey Highlands or North Jersey set, and there is one that covers the Palisades as well.

Hope that helps a bit!

--Dawn

Hi Mike - The Trail Conference maps are the most detailed trail maps out there, far better than anything online or in a book, in our opinion. They can be found in most gear shops in the area in addition to being ordered online.

We don't recommend relying on a cell phone for help when hiking; proper preparation is key. And if you aren't comfortable going out alone then consider finding an organized hike... we have a Hiking Clubs in NJ page with suggestions.

-Dawn

Thanks Dawn. I may pick up some of those maps if I don't get lost first.

Hi, Mike

Welcome to NJHiking and to the wonderful world of hiking in general. It may seem like information overload at first,  but a hiker can never gather too much information before heading out on a hike - especially if it's one they've never done before.  Even repeat hikes need to be refreshed w/updated info. **See: Post Sandy damage to so many trails that are either closed, impassible or require much maneuvering**

It's a learning curve and don't put too much pressure on yourself to try and learn too much all at once.  Like the proverbial journey of 1,000 steps...it all starts with the first.  Most important is that you enjoy that journey.  That truly is what it's all about.  

A cell phone is always good to carry, but a good, old-fashioned compass is also a must as is an emergency whistle, flashlight or headlamp.  Make sure you try and tell someone you're heading out that day and where.  It also helps if you can hike w/a partner especially since you're just starting hiking.

As Dawn mentioned, NY/NJ Trail Conference is an excellent source of information, trail updates and once you have their maps, you can investigate a myriad of trails.  Also on their website they have a listing of dozens of hikes in both NY and NJ in forests and parks, from easy to moderate to strenuous, short to long.

Just remember, days are shorter now, so twilight is upon you before you know it.  Plus in the woods, even w/leaves off the trees, it appears darker than it may actually be.  This time of year I try to finish a hike no later than 4:30pm.  Regardless of the shortness of a particular hike, I still try to start shortly after sunrise, which is now anywhere between 7:00am and 8:00am. If I finish early, that just means I can have my after-hike pizza that much sooner. :)

Consider, too, those trail conditions I mentioned as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Many of the hikes I've taken recently have had to be shortened due to the extra time involved in having to maneuver around blowdowns or having to bushwhack off trail.  

One quick suggested hike, btw:  South Mountain Reservation in West Orange, Essex County.  It happens to be the NY/NJ Trail Conference's "Hike of the Week".  It's not too far from you in Ridgefield as well.  No more than 30-40 minutes I think.  The hike they recommend is only about 4 miles and rated as "easy".

Here's a link to the hike information.

Good luck and enjoy.  Let us know how your first hiking experience went.

Linda

Linda,

Thank you for the warm welcome and all the information. Yes I am in information overload like you guessed.

I bought a compass. I haven't gotten around to opening the package yet. I don't know how to use the thing anyway. I've slacked off in read my idiots guide. I'll get up to the compass chapter eventually. Wish me luck.

I downloaded all kinds of compass and GPS apps for my cell phone but I can't make heads or tails of them either. I prefer to use the manual magnetic compass anyway. Who knows when a cell phone will die? 

I'll have to take a look at the trail conference website again. I trust that it has lots of great info but it. 

I'll take your advice on starting out on the trail earlier than later. I've a bunch of lights but I'd rather not use them.

I attending a hiking meetup at Cranberry Lake Preserve the other day and did notice a few trees had fallen, blocking the trail. I really didn't mind it though. Most of the big trail obstructions had been removed. ( picture of old quarry there) 

Thank you for pointing toward the South Mountain Reservation. I may do that next weekend. Wish me luck.

I would recommend south mountain reservation. You can do a nice 7+ mile loop around the park.

Today I went to the Palisades Interstate Park. I chose the Cape Fly Away Loop (easy +) trail. I chose the trail based on the park's website description. It took about an hour for the whole loop. It was nice. I saw a white tailed rabbit, a blue bird, and a red bird. I also saw a lot of spiders. The Shore Trail was very rocky. I wore running sneakers. I rolled my ankle on the rocks a few times. It may be better to wear boots. The Hudson River view from the Shore Trail was very nice. I didn't see any lilies like the description in the website. I did see ferns though. It was a nice walk before breakfast.

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