Hit the Foliage Trail Close to Home
By Margaret Nitka
INTENSITY IS ANOTHER word for fall. Think deep blue sky, brilliant scarlet, orange, yellow and deep mahogany leaves all sparked by golden sunlight. Mid to late October is usually peak fall foliage season throughout central New Jersey. And since our state runs the geographical gamut from mountains to central forests, open fields to coastal plains, the peak season depends on where you are. That’s even true in eastern coastal Monmouth County where we are tucked between the rivers and the sea, the highlands and sandy beaches. We can leaf-peep from the Sandy Hook dune environment, through the old roads of Middletown with its British Revolutionary War Escape Route and end high above it all in Highlands and Hartshorne Woods.
Since Highlands has the highest elevation on the entire eastern U.S. seaboard, you might choose to frame your view of the Atlantic, the Shrewsbury and the Navesink with the variety of leaves coloring the high forests of chestnut, oak, birch, hickory and maple. You even have a choice of hiking the trails of Hartshorne Woods or climbing the winding roads to Twin Lights. For a less strenuous outing, simply make sure your camera is handy and head back into the meandering roads of Middletown. One of the crowning glories of our own backyard is the variety and display of the tall deciduous trees that line our roads and grace our parkland.
And don’t forget the dunes that protect our beaches from storms like Hurricane Irene. Where they held, there are blankets of sandwort, sea rocket, beach plum, beach roses and spectacular goldenrod. So choose to hit the foliage trail close to home. Take your pick from coast to hillside to riverfront and refill your personal collection of favorite fall memories.