30 Walks in New Jersey by Kevin Dann and Gordon Miller
Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ – 1992
Note: Updated and expanded version of 25 Walks in New Jersey, 1982
So I decided that I’d start actually reading some of the many New Jersey hike books (which generally upset me by ignoring South Jersey… hence, this blog exists) and seeing what I like and hate about them, just in case I totally loose my mind and actually write a book one day…
30 Walks in New Jersey by Kevin Dann and Gordon Miller is the first one up, because I saw it in the library when I was there the other week, so I picked it up to read.
What I love about this book:
This book is “walks” instead of hikes, which lets the authors be a little looser in what they cover, which I like. They also break down New Jersey into seven regions, then cover 3 to 6 walks in each region, which helps keep the book pretty balanced.
The book does some basic sketches at rough directions, but doesn’t go too crazy with it. That leaves more room for what the authors love, which turns out to be mostly nature and geology. They go into great detail about the plants and rocks that they see, which is not generally my thing, but also will help me keep a better eye out for this sort of stuff next time I do a trail that is covered. They get excited about this stuff, which gets you excited.
They also mix in some walks through towns. Here, nature is abandoned, replaced by history. Brief accounts of important buildings along the walk, along with the briefest of descriptions about the history of these and the general history of the town.
What I don’t like about this book:
Sadly, after 1992, this was never updated again. There are hikes in here that I’ve been on that still work, which has that going for it, but I’d suspect that several of them do not.
Of the walks covered, nearly all of them are three miles or less. While I am a man that loves a not-very-long hike (most of this blog is hikes under 3 miles), it would have been nice to have a few more longer ones mixed in.
My final complaint is that The Pine Barrens (the hiking jewel of South Jersey) is covered very thinly… Rancocas, Lebanon, and Wharton, and Wharton really means a walk though Batsto.
Time for the real breakdown:
South Jersey (or close enough) Hikes covered (11) – Rancocas State Park, Lebanon State Forest (now Brendan Bryne State Forest, book is showing its age), Wharton State Forest (Batsto Village), Island Beach State Park, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Moores Beach, Cape May Point State Park. Also includes walks through Burlington, Salem, Bridgeton, and Cape May.
Percentage of hikes South Jersey (or close enough)… 36%.
Final Score: 5/10
This is probably not the worst book to start with. The South Jersey hikes are just over 1/3 (which is pretty good from my experiences) with some variety in them, including walks through towns.