We're bummed we weren't able to take advantage of the beautiful weather on Saturday (prior commitments). But Sunday's weather was almost as good albeit a bit more cloudy toward the afternoon where we were in Mendham, NJ at the Schiff Nature Preserve.
Had it not been for reading about this little known (to us) hike on Daniela Wagstaff's blog I may not have discovered it just in time to make last minute plans to do it Sunday. What I thought would be a crowded place with hordes of kids & families, turned out to be nearly total solitude, only crossing paths with about 3 other couples, each with a doggie or two in tow, near the end of our hike.
We basically followed Daniela's route on her blog, but differentiated a bit and did a few more out and backs on some other trails in the Preserve. Racked up 8.55 miles on the ole GPS. Quite cold, but invigorating when dressed properly.
Really nice, surprisingly secluded, woody place. In urban setting, sometimes w/attendant road noise by only a few passing cars. Otherwise, just a few yards away from the roads, you could talk in whispers and be heard just fine several feet away from each other.
Some good elevation changes especially an out and back section of the Blue blazed trail that ends near Union Schoolhouse Road which travels parallel to a section of the Raritan River. Really steep decent with equally steep ascent return. My hamstrings were cursing me, but thanking me later for the good workout. :)
Even had plenty of time for granola bar break/sock change & chance to enjoy the views from Lookout Point on the Red-Blue Trail:
Will be a great place to return to for snowshoeing - if we ever get a decent amount of the white cover. One of the women who run the place wondered if I thought it would be a good venue to start a snowshoe program and asked if I'd care to participate as a volunteer to help get things off and running (well, "shoeing"). While I told her the majority of the trails would be ideal for snowshoing and/or x-country skiing, the 1-1/2 hour's drive would just be too prohibitive for me to do on any regular basis - especially in snowy weather. But it would be a great idea to encourage others to go there for that purpose when hiking becomes untenable due to ground conditions.
Schiff is definitely worth checking out for a hike before any serious snow starts flying. A slightly updated version of the trail map in the link above can be found at the kiosk in the visitor center's parking lot. Restrooms available there and there's a rather decent outhouse about halfway along the hike near The Lodge at the juncture of the Purple/White & Red Trails.
Give me a decent trail distance to hike; some elevation changes; views; solitude & quite woods w/a few deer, birds & hawks (saw another heron, too); a restroom at the beginning & end and one halfway....and I am one happy hiker! :)