Most of our outings to date have been northerly and westerly, visiting city and county parks and reserves, but today found us turning our noses southward. About half an hour down the Garden State Parkway found us in a rather more sizeable state park with with the curious name of Cheesequake State Park.
Apparently, the name of this largely CCC-era park is a mangling of one of several names from the local Lenni-Lenape tribe, meaning “men of men” or “original people” native to New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, and forcibly expelled by Dutch and English colonists prior to the Revolutionary War.
We arrived much later than I had hoped, and couldn’t find parking in the main hikers’ lot, thus ending up down by the lake, where we picked up the Yellow Trail, moving clockwise, then clockwise on the Blue Trail, and returning on the Green. A shorter loop — more of a figure-eight, really — but very pretty. I do feel a little duped by my AllTrails app, though; user photos gave an impression of a much flatter walk than we found ourselves on, and my groin muscles are not happy!
The first thing that struck me was how different this terrain is from what we’re used to farther north and west, more inland. The ground is very sandy in Cheesequake, with extensive carpets of moss in many places, and marshes just beyond the trees all along the Yellow Trail.
The trail climbs and dips, with the help of stairs, some constructed by local scouts, between hardwood forests on high ground, and swampy low grounds traversed by wooden boardwalks, and still a very sandy soil with plenty of moss.
Concerned about the encroaching sunset, I considered cutting our blue loop a little short, but I’m glad I went all the way to the lake at the far end of the Blue loop.
Where there were not so many wildflowers at this particular place and time of year, the fall color was just beginning to emerge along the trail, reds and yellows amidst the green.
Altogether, it was a beautiful way to end our weekend, and we’ll be back again, next time with more time to explore the longer trails.