Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the great outdoors. Winter hiking offers new perspectives on familiar landscapes, while providing a glimpse into the lives of many animals. It is the ideal time to follow red fox tracks in fresh fallen snow, search for day-roosting owls among snow covered pine trees, or just enjoy the tranquility of bright winter morning. Beat your cabin fever and check out some of our suggestions to stay active this winter.
· Both Thompson Park in Monroe Township and Donaldson Park in Highland Park have dedicated sledding areas.
· The sled hill at Thompson Park is on the former ski hill near the Grove 4 picnic area.
· The hill at Donaldson Park is at the end of South 2nd Avenue.
· These are the ONLY two parks and areas where sledding is permitted. Sledding is not permitted in any other areas of our parks as they have not been evaluated for suitability and safety.
A few reminders:
· Parks open dawn to dusk.
· Please park in designated parking lots.
· It is recommended that all riders under 18 wear a helmet.
Cross Country Skiing
· Looking for an exciting and challenging winter sport? Try cross country skiing! Nothing feels more like winter than gliding quietly across the frozen snow. This is exactly what you will discover while taking a lap around the Farm Road Trail in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park (North Brunswick). The open fields of Heathcote Meadows Preserve (South Brunswick) also offer another wonderful opportunity for cross country skiers.
· A great place for birding year round, the four-mile Heathcote-Mapleton Loop connects the Preserve to the Cook Natural Area, Mapleton Preserve, and the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. Try also the flat open soccer fields inside Thompson Park Conservation Area (Monroe Township).
· The Middlesex Greenway stretching from Metuchen through Edison and onto Woodbridge, also offers a great skiing opportunity. The Greenway is not plowed during the winter so as to provide a great cross country skiing opportunity.
Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking
Snowshoeing is a great winter activity when there is 6 or more inches of snow on the ground. The pristine forest of the Thompson Park Conservation Area (Monroe Township) offers a moderately challenging introduction to the sport of snowshoeing. Try the Gravel Hill Trail located at the soccer fields on Prospect Plains Road in Monroe Township. The Tamarack Hollow Preserve in East Brunswick is the perfect escape for the snowshoer looking for a tranquil winter setting. This quiet and serene preserve has two miles of trails winding through an oak forest, punctuated by the beautiful, evergreen leaves of ountain laurel. Your winter hiking experience won’t be complete until you try the Farrington Lake Trail. Connecting Davidson’s Mill Pond Park to Ireland Brook Conservation Area, the trail follows the shoreline of Farrington Lake and the Lawrence Brook. The trail offers spectacular views of the lake and unique rock formations found nowhere else in the County. It is the perfect place for spotting wintering waterfowl and wading birds including a variety of ducks, geese, cormorants, herons and egrets.
Information, maps and directions are available by calling (732) 745-8278, or on the Take A Hike page.
Outdoor Ice Skating in Roosevelt Park
Roosevelt Park in Edison has a beautiful outdoor skating facility and is a great way to warm up while staying active on a sunny winter afternoon. The ice rink offers open skate hours, ice skating lessons, and birthday party packages. Please visit their website here for hours, pricing, and more information. You can also call the rink for more information at (732) 494-3785.
NO ICE SKATING: For the safety of all our County residents and visitors, ice skating is PROHIBITED on all lakes, streams, rivers and ponds within the County Parks, Conservation Areas and Preserves. This includes Roosevelt Park Lake in Edison, Manalapan Lake in Jamesburg/Monroe, Helmetta Pond, Helmetta, Davidson’s Mill Pond, South Brunswick, Spring Lake, South Plainfield and the ponds within Donaldson Park, Highland Park and Johnson Park, Piscataway.
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