This weekend we were blessed with pristine spring weather – sunny, blue skies and temperatures in the sixties. Birds sang, flowers blossomed and all was beautiful. We decided it was an opportune time to visit New Jersey’s Manasquan Reservoir with the pack.
Fiona, Secret and Lobo were ready to take on the trail. We’ve been pretty sedentary of late. This was a good chance to shake off the cobwebs of winter and embrace spring with gusto. This 1,200 acre park features the beautiful reservoir, which helps supply Monmouth County with fresh water, as well as woods and wetlands, and a five mile perimeter trail around it all.
The five mile trail features a varied landscape. We walked past the reservoir, through forest, along meadows filled with deer, past streams where wild turkeys quenched their thirst, and over picturesque wooden bridges. Hawks flew overhead. Striped bass and bullhead catfish swam in the water.
For the most part, the trail was wide and fairly even. The majority of it was in shade. It really is an ideal placed to walk dogs. I love finding shady walks because our snow dogs overheat quite quickly when they are in the sun on a warm day. We walked at a moderate pace, completing the whole five mile circuit in about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. We stopped a few times to chat with folks who wanted to pet the dogs, of course!
The park features a large visitor’s center with clean, well-equipped bathrooms. There are water fountains as well as plenty of indoor and outdoor seating to look out over the reservoir. There is a fireplace which must be lovely in the winter when the park offers ice skating, ice boating and ice fishing as conditions allow. You can rent rowboats or kayaks during peak season and there is a boat launch ramp which you can use for your own boat with purchase of a day or season pass.
We met many people and many dogs along our hike. Despite the many folks we met, the park never felt crowded. It is simply too large. I still can’t believe that we rounded a corner and saw in the distance a herd of what must be over a hundred deer. They were too far away for the dogs to go bonkers, but close enough that we could see them grazing. I have never experienced that in New Jersey in my life. I felt like an early settler for a minute, transported back in time to old Monmouth County of the seventeenth century.
I am grateful that our county park system preserves such spaces for residents to enjoy. The pups sure approved. They were so happy and exhausted from their walk, that they fell fast asleep in the bed of our camper, all tumbled in a heap!!
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