down for warmth.
Swartswood’s five yurts are situated
in a loop, with distance between them
for privacy and quiet. Parking is a stone’s
throw away. The area around our yurt is
open and grassy, enabling white tail deer
to browse nearby. Through the neighboring forest, the shimmering lake entices us
to paddle. It’s a pleasant 10-minute walk
to the beach and the marina (where boat
rentals are available).
The entire Water Trail can be completed in a leisurely three hours, but we
take additional time to get out and hike
the 1. 5 mile Grist Mill Trail. This loop begins at Keen’s Mill, a restored 1830s mill,
on the west end of the three-mile lake.
After our paddle, we hike the 2.8-mile
Spring Lake Trail, which winds through
a younger forest to secluded Spring Lake.
The trail is located in the southeast
corner of the park and connects to the
0.6-mile-long Duck Pond Trail, a paved
pathway suitable for inline skating, roller
blading and wheelchairs; it is accessible
from a nearby parking lot.
Back at the yurt, we cook on a fire grate
provided by the park. Off in the woods, a
great horned owl provides the soundtrack
for our repast. Soon, we’ll retire to the yurt
to read by lantern light—with little more
technology than those desert Mongolians
Cindy Ross blogs about her outdoor adventures at cindyrosstraveler.com.
(Continued from page 53) series of picnic areas with tables, grills,
playgrounds, restrooms and access
to fishing and crabbing. The trail also
takes you to Kearney House, a 19th-cen-
tury tavern and homestead that serves as
a history museum.
To that point, the Shore Trail is
easy to moderate. About three miles
beyond Kearney House, it passes over
the Giant Stairs, three slippery boulder fields created by rocks sliding from
the cliffs above. Sturdy hiking boots
are a must.
“Don’t think that just because you’re
in Alpine, New Jersey, we’re pulling your
leg by saying it’s a challenging hike,” says
Nelsen, regarding the Giant Stairs. “We
have to pull people off there every year.”
The trail then enters New York State
and takes you to Peanut Leap Cascade, a
small waterfall, before rising steeply to its
end near the state line. Here you can con-
nect with the Long Path and hike back
along the cliffs.
FIVE SHORT TRAILS LINK THE LONG
Path and the Shore Trail, ranging in
classification from moderate to steep.
The easiest is the red-blazed Huyler’s
Landing Trail, an old wagon route
that gradually descends 400 feet from
the Long Path to the Shore Trail. The
orange-blazed Closter Dock Trail is
also an old wagon route, though a bit
steeper. It passes through a pair of tun-
nels beneath the Palisades Parkway and
down a series of switchbacks, ending
just north of the Alpine Picnic Area.
Though dogs must be kept on
leashes and bikes aren’t allowed on
the trails, Palisades Park tries to offer
something for everyone, with a variety
of guided tours that ramp up in the fall,
including history hikes, nature hikes,
full-moon hikes and children’s hikes.
In addition, from September to early
November, bird lovers can participate
in the annual fall Hawk Watch at State
Line Lookout, held every fall since
1997 as part of the national effort to
record raptor migration. (In past years,
watchers have counted more than a
dozen species of hawks and two species of vultures.)
The park continues to welcome
visitors in the winter with more than
five miles of cross-country ski trails.
As Nelson says, the park is “a place for
people to come and get exercise and
fresh air”—whatever the season.
Palisades Interstate Park is free
and open to the public 365 days a year.
The park is accessible by car at several
points along U. S. Route 9W and the
Palisades Interstate Parkway. Parking
is available at Fort Lee Historic Park,
the Alpine Administration Building and
State Line Lookout. Some lots have a $5
per car fee on weekends or holidays. For
more information, call 201-768-1360 or
visit njpalisades.org. ;
Freelance contributor Drew Anne Scarantino is an avid hiker.
Association and the Garden
State Garlic Growers will be in
10 AM- 4 PM. Free. Sussex County
Fairgrounds, 27 Plains Road,
Augusta (973-579-0500, sussex-farmvisits.com)
7OC TOBER 11
It’s family fun at Unionville
Vineyards’ 17th-annual fall
fest. While kids can enjoy
grape stomping, parents
can sample Unionville’s sig-
nature wines. There will be
food and craft vendors, plus
talks with Matt McPherson
of Matt’s Red Rooster Grill
in Flemington and Paul
Lawler, master cheese maker
at Cherry Grove Farm in
Lawrenceville. With 88.7
acres to gaze upon, the fes-
tival is sure to be a feast for
Noon- 6 PM. $20, ages 13-20; $10
for designated drivers; 12 and
under free. 9 Rocktown Road,
Ringoes (908-788-0400, union-villevineyards.com)
The weekend kicks o;
October 11 with a one-mile Fall Block Party and
featuring over 400 craft
and food vendors along
with music and activities to
entertain the whole family.
All weekend, festival goers
will enjoy a slew of seafood
vendors at the Music Pier
and along the boardwalk.
9 AM- 5 PM. Ticket prices vary.
Fifth to 14th streets on Asbury
Avenue, Ocean City (800-BEACH-
Keep New Jersey’s lighthouses shining brightly
by participating in the
Lighthouse Challenge. For
only $1, attendees receive a
passport and admission to
11 participating lighthouses.
Bring your passport and be
sure to ask the volunteer
sta; for a stamp from each
location. This special week-
end gives families a chance
to learn the state’s maritime
past and experience the bea-
cons that led so many sailors
Admission, $1. Children 11 and
under climb free with an adult.
Multiple locations (609-884-
7OC TOBER 18-19
A celebration of New
Jersey’s cranberry harvest—the third largest in the
country—as well as the Pine
Barrens and local culture.
About 150 local artists, vendors and craftspeople will
demonstrate their work.
9 AM- 4 PM. A $5 donation
for parking is appreciated.
Downtown Chatsworth (609-726-
7OC TOBER 19:
Vetrnaetr, or Winternights
Festival, was a Norse custom
in pre-Christian Scandinavia
celebrating the coming of
winter. Today, it’s a place to
salute and share Viking culture. Enjoy authentic food,
traditional Viking children’s
games and the sounds of
Norsewind performing Old
Norse and Celtic music. A portion of ticket sales will benefit
11 AM-4: 30 PM. Adults, $3;
seniors, $2; children under 12,
free. Vernon Nordic House, 233
Route 94, Vernon (862-213-2596,