Every year I look forward to the warm weather. This year I have the added bonus of working from home so I can enjoy going outside at lunch more often than in the past. So today I took a light hike in the woods nearby – Mount Hope Historical Park.
This little gem is on the grounds of what was once a busy mining area. Mining began in the very early 1700s and continued until 1978. Now, it is a lovely little space that sits on a total of 6271 acres, known as the Mount Hope Tract. John Jacob Faesch developed the tract in 1772, with each mine owned by one or more companies. It is one of the oldest iron mining areas in the United States and provided iron ore until the mid 1950s. The state’s richest mines, the Richard, the Allen, and the Tboe are part of this site.
If you decide to check out this area, it is important to stay on the marked trails. There are many mines on the grounds and they are not all marked. Be careful for large or deep depressions in the ground, known as subsidence pits, as well as mine shafts. You may find magnetite iron ore on the trails, what the Native Americans called Succasunny. Look for small black stones that are rectangular in shape that feel heavier than other rocks. Additionally, the rocks along the trail are representations of the mineral below ground. Look for rocks that are shiny black or red. Many of them contain large deposits of quartz.
It doesn’t take long to leave the sound of the nearby roads behind you and take in all that is around you. I was hoping to find some sheds today, but no luck. I did, however, make a little friend of a frog that was jumping along with me on the trail!
There are multiple trails of varying levels of difficulty. I am not what I would call a “serious” hiker, but I am able to traverse the trails without much issue. As I have a bad ankle, I always feel that my trekking poles are very helpful when going up and down hills. There’s a pond at the end of the open space that I often fish with my husband. If you like to Geocache, there are several hidden throughout the park.
Like I said, it is a great little gem of an area.
If you decide to hike Mount Hope Historical Park, or any other hiking area, I would like to recommend a few things. I am not a hiking expert, but I do think it is a good idea to be prepared when heading into any wooded area.
Here’s my “standard” list:
- Solid hiking boots
- Bear spray/Mace
- Trekking poles
- Inhaler (I have asthma)
- Neoprene straps
- Phone and/or GPS
You may wonder what the straps are for. I use them normally to keep my pants comfortable in my waders when fishing. When I hike I use them from keeping little crawlers from taking their own walk up my pants leg. Tick season is expected to be quite bad this year, so it is important to do whatever you can to keep them at bay.
It is also a good idea to keep a whistle and bear spray with you. While I did not encounter any bears or deer – like I said, just my little froggy friend – it is important to be prepared when heading into any natural area.
Always make sure you have a water bottle with you to stay hydrated and whether you hike in a small area or a large national park, keep your phone with you in case of an emergency.
So as the weather continues to improve, make sure you get out and enjoy these great little open spaces throughout New Jersey. Some may be closer than you think!