AMC’s Best Day Hikes in New Jersey: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails in the Garden State, From the Skylands to the Shore by Priscilla Estes
Appalachian Mountain Club Books, Boston, MA – 2019
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…
AMC’s Best Day Hikes in New Jersey by Priscilla Estes is the second one up, because she was nice enough to send me a copy with a nice little note in it.
What I love about this book:
This book does a nice job of covering hikes all over the state. There are hikes covered in every corner of it, from the mountains of northwest New Jersey to Cape May Point, from the shores of Cumberland County to the urban centers within site of the Empire State Building. There’s a variety of distances covered too, from a high of 12.3 miles to a low of 1.2 miles. The write ups for each trail strike a good balance between giving turn-by-turn directions (VERY necessary for some of these trails) while also mixing is what to look for in terms of highlights along the way. This creates a series of HIKES, which other books sometimes mess up on by trying to write about parks instead of one specific adventure inside of a park. There’s also a section at the end of each trail letting you know what other interseting things are in the area – other hikes, other parks, historic or cultural landmarks, etc.
While I’ve only reviewed two of these books for the blog, I’ve read pretty much all of them on the market. There’s a lot of ground tread and retread and retread again. This book does a GREAT job of avoiding some of the hikes done to death (yes, we all LOVE the Stairway to Heaven hike in North Jersey on the Appalachian Trail, but its in literally every book) while uncovering some absolute gems that most folks (except for my own esteemed readers) will never have heard of.
What I don’t like about this book:
What I mostly don’t like about this book is that it highlights 50 hikes in New Jersey, and I really wish that it highlighted 500 hikes. Luckily, the book offsets this by including a brief write up at the end on dozens of more hikes that are available in the state, broken down county by county.
Time for the real breakdown:
South Jersey (or close enough) Hikes covered (21) – Wells Mills, Clayton Park, Barnegat Branch Trail, Manasquan to Asbury Park, Island Beach State Park, the Forest Research Center, Estell Manor, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve, Belleplain, Thompson’s and Moore’s Beach, Cape May Point State Park & South Cape May Meadows Preserve, Maurice River Bluffs Preserve, Glades Wildlife Preserve, Bivalve Wetlands Walk, Mullica River Trail, Parvin State Park, Black Run Preserve, Cooper River Park Loop, Batona Trail (Carranza to Route 72), and Whitesbog (Brendan T Bryne State Forest). There are 34 more South Jersey Trails listed in the Appendix.
Percentage of hikes South Jersey (or close enough)… 42%, with 47% of the trails in the appendix being in South Jersey. And there are a lot more just north of that I-195 line that I use for my dividing line.
Final Score: 10/10
So, if you haven’t worked it out yet from some of the hikes covered in this book (particularly Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve, who includes the Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve? I mean, I would, but who else would?), Priscilla Estes spent a healthy amount of time checking out South Jersey Trails. She was nice enough to thank us in the book, as well as to mention us in her introduction (along with one of favorite blogs – Gone Hikin’). Thank you for that!
And you know what? She did an awesome job at covering South Jersey. Like, the best job I’ve ever seen in a New Jersey hiking book. Would my choices have been a little different? Some of them. But overall – she represented South Jersey very, very well.
How well? So well, and this is about as high praise as I can offer for someone who didn’t stick $100 bills in that free book that was sent to me (Hint hint – any publisher that sends me a free book), if I had found this book on the shelves back in 2013, I never would have started this blog. I would not have had to. *mic drop*
*picks mic back up* but I did, so you all aren’t getting rid of me so easily!
So anyway, I highly recommend this book. If you want to buy it and you want to help me pay some bills around here at the same time, click on the Amazon ad below when you do and Amazon throws a few pennies my way. You know, until those books full of $100 bills start arriving at my door any day now.