Sandy Hook

Outdoor Destinations Near Campus

With the warm weather quickly approaching, Monmouth students want to leave the confines of their dormitories and enjoy the beautiful, scenic beaches and the Atlantic one-mile down Cedar Avenue. But Hawks should soar a little further than just the outskirts of Long Branch where land meets sea. Contrary to popular belief, New Jersey does in fact possess a number of beautiful, outdoor areas for its residence to enjoy, some of which are not too far away from campus.

1) Sandy Hook – 9.3 miles away from campus

Sandy Hook is a six-mile strip of land the juts out between the Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean that contains Fort Hancock, a non-operational United States Army post. Visitors are permitted to fish on all beaches unless otherwise posted by the staff.

Sandy Hook also offers a seven-mile long multi-use pathway where walkers, jogger, bicyclists, etc. alike could start their personal tour of Sandy Hook. The path will take them from the park entrance and circle around Fort Hancock.

“I would definitely recommend my friends and family to visit Sandy Hook because of the countless exploratory options,” said Trevor Rawlik, a senior health studies major. Rawlik, an outdoor advocate and surfer, also enjoys the surf break Sandy Hook has to offer. “There is the awesome beach, the old Army town, the abandoned barracks, and trails leading to vantage points on the beach,” Rawlik continued.

The vantage points Rawlik is speaking of appeal to hikers and birdwatchers alike to see various wildlife species as well as to New York City across the bay. “Birds are just so wild and beautifully designed,” said Dr. Eleanor Novek, communication professor. “I love their sound and how they’re beautifully diverse.” Now that Novek is aware of Sandy Hook bird watching, she said that she couldn’t wait to visit.

2) Hartshorne Woods Park – 10.4 miles away from campus

Rawlik also praised Hartshore Woods Park, which is just around the corner from Sandy Hook in Atlantic Highlands. “There were paved paths that did not allow me to get dirt or really involved in a true hike other than leading to the beautiful beachfront,” Rawlik said.

The hilly, foliage filled 794-acre site has views of both the Navesink River and the Atlantic Ocean. Like Sandy Hook, this park is popular for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy strolling, biking, and hiking. Equestrians utilize the trails for exploration on horseback as well.

3) Wharton State Forest – 61.6 miles away from campus

For those students who are a little more adventurous and willing to travel south approximately one hour and fifteen minutes away, Wharton State Forest is the place to visit.

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference says that the 500 miles of sand trails is located in the heart of the Pinelands and possesses numerous winding streams that gently flow through forests filled with pine, cedar and oak trees. Kayaking and canoeing through water routes are encourage, many of which lead to campground and campgrounds where explorers can reside for a number nights.

The Outdoors Club at Monmouth University has already ventured south to Wharton State Forest. “Wharton State Forest is my favorite place in Jersey,” said Gary Bouwmans, former President of the Outdoors Club. “It was the first place I went with the Outdoors Club and I have many fond memories of it. We went camping, kayaking, bridge jumping, swimming, and off-roading there.”

Leiws Grizzard, a writer and comedian, once said, “Spring-time is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.” It is just about that time to wake up, Monmouth Hawks. Take some time to get away from the stresses of school, spread those wings, and go see what New Jersey has to offer.

PHOTO COURTESY of James Romano