While store-bought costumes come and go the very best ideas can be found in coat closets and storage bins, crafts drawers and dollar stores. A bit of greasepaint and a lot of cotton balls (or yarn, or artificial flowers) and as fast as “trick-or-treat” you have a Halloween memory for years to come.
As the temperature cools and the leaves start to change, there’s no better way to embrace the season than to get outside and explore the nature around you. New Jersey is home to miles upon miles of beautiful hiking trails, many of which offer the stunning New York City skyline views unique to our state.
Below are a few of the best trails, within an hour or less drive from Hoboken and Jersey City, where you can immerse yourself in all of the reds, oranges, and golds that you can handle. Grab your water bottle, hiking boots — and maybe even your furry best friend — and get going!
Palisades Interstate Park (20 minutes from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: Take the Long Path, which starts at the stunning State Line Lookout, and moves through the park, hitting many other places of interest along the way.
Location: Bergen County Trail Time: 4 hours Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Why It’s Great: State Line Lookout features a breathtaking panoramic view of the Hudson River. The park also boasts Greenbrook Sanctuary (a secluded woodland preserve), three historic sites (including the Kearney House, a nineteenth century tavern), four picnic areas, and three boat basins. More info: Visit http://www.njpalisades.org/index.html.
Cheesequake State Park (40 minutes from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: A 4.5-mile hike explores Hooks Creeks Lake, Perrine Pond, and terrain ranging from forests to salt marshes. For this hike, take the Yellow Trail to the Blue Trail until you reach the Green Trail, which will complete the loop.
Location: Middlesex County Trail Time: 3 hours Hours: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Why It’s Great: This park boasts a rare combination of vegetation, from salt marshes to wetlands to forests, all of which are easily accessible to hikers through various trails. More info: Visit http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/cheesequake.html.
Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area (40 mins from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: Pyramid Mountain staff members recommend a 3.5-mile, moderately challenging trail that begins in the parking area, passes through a scenic overlook, and culminates at Tripod Rock. Plus, the return loop has a stretch along the Taylortown Reservoir.
Location: Montville Township Trail Time: 2.5 hours Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Why It’s Great: The trail boasts stunning views of the New York City skyline, waterfalls, wetlands — and an up-close look at Tripod Rock. It’s a glacial erratic — aka, a rock not native to the area — and, as a 160-ton boulder balanced on three smaller stones, it’s a striking feat of nature. More info: Visit http://www.morrisparks.net/aspparks/pyrmtnmain.asp.
Ramapo Mountain State Forest (60 minutes from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: The trails are adaptable, but we like the five-mile route that takes hikers along Ramapo Lake and passes through the ruins of Van Slyke Castle. Take the MacEvoy Trail for about 1.5 miles, turn off onto Castle Point Trail, and use the Todd Trail to loop back around to the MacEvoy Trail.
Location: Bergen and Passaic counties Trail Time: 3.5 hours Hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm until November 1, when the trails will close at 6:00 pm Why It’s Great: The trails are flexible, so hikers can mix-and-match routes based on their interests and ability. And Ramapo boasts New York City skyline views — as well as the ruins of Van Slyke Castle. More info: Visit http://www.nynjtc.org/park/ramapo-mountain-state-forest.
Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area (60 minutes from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: A scenic 7.5-mile hike covers Buttermilk Falls, Crater Lake, and Hemlock Pond. Begin at Buttermilk Falls, head onto the Appalachian Trail until you reach the Crater Lake Trail, you’ll then use the Blue Mountain Lakes Trail to link back up with the Buttermilk Falls Trails and return using that route.
Location: Layton, Sussex County Trail Time: 6 hours Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Why It’s Great: Buttermilk Falls is NJ’s highest waterfall and a favorite destination of visitors to the park. Be sure to plan your hike after a period of rain to get the best views of the waterfall. More info: Visit http://www.nps.gov/dewa/planyourvisit/trails.htm.
Hacklebarney State Park (60 minutes from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: Take the Main Trail to the Upper Trail, and then use the Lower Trail to hike along the Black River before looping back.
Location: Morris County Trail Time: 2 hours Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Why It’s Great: This trail takes hikers along many streams as well as the Black River, which is a plus as proximity to water causes leaves to change color earlier in the season. More info: Visit http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/hackle.html.
Norvin Green State Forest (60 minutes from Hoboken/JC)Standout Trail: This four-mile trail will take you to one of the best views in New Jersey, Wyanokie High Point. Begin on the Otter Hole Trail, until you come to the Hewitt-Butler Trail, and follow this trail to the Wyanokie Circular Trail. Continue on the Wyanokie Circular Trail until it splits from the Mine Trail, at which point you should follow the Mine Trail to the Roomy Mine Trail. Stick to this trail until you once again reach the Mine Trail. From here, follow the Hewitt-Butler Trail to the Otter Hole Trail until you come back to your starting point.
Location: Passaic County Trail Time: 3 hours Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Why It’s Great: Wyanokie High Point features breathtaking skyline views, and also overlooks the Wanaque Reservoir. You’ll also see an old copper mine, as well as many streams and unique rock formations. More info: Visit http://www.nynjtc.org/hike/wyanokie-high-point-loop-weis-ecology-center.
Worthington State Forest (90 mins from Hoboken/JC)
Standout Trail: A 7.8-mile trek follows the park’s Dunnfield Creek trail from the parking area for the first 3.5 miles, reaches Sunfish Pond, and returns on the Appalachian Trail.
Location: Hardwick Township, Warren County Trail Time: 5.5 hours Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Why It’s Great: You can enjoy breathtaking views of Delaware Water Gap and Sunfish Pond, a stunning glacial lake. Warning: This terrain is rocky, so hiking boots are a must! More info: Visit http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/worthington.html.
Fall colors are so rich and vibrant. Before the brilliant scarlet and yellow leaves turn brown, why not gather some up to make a beautiful luminary. This activity is perfect for all ages!
Some pressed autumn leaves (gather some fallen leaves from the ground, and press them inside a thick book for about a week)
Cylindrical oatmeal or ice cream container (such as Edy’s)
Iron and ironing surface
A piece of orange or red cardstock or construction paper (I used painted watercolor paper for the pictured lantern)
Glue (either hot glue gun or white tacky glue)
Handle from a paper shopping bag or brown- or green- wrapped florist’s wire from a craft store (or you could use a pipe cleaner)
Tea light (LED or real flame)
Glass votive holder or jar (if using a real tea light)
Thick, cushioned double-sided tape (if using a real tea light)
Step 1: The Base
Cut off the bottom 3/4” of the cylindrical container, and recycle the rest. This will be the base of the lantern.
Step 2: The Body Cut out two 18.5″ wide by 9″ tall pieces of wax paper. Place one piece on top of an ironing board (or a pillowcase-covered table surface). Turn iron to lowest setting. Arrange pressed leaves on the wax paper, with their most colorful side facing you.
When the leaves are arranged as you want them, carefully place the second piece of wax paper on top of the leaves. Carefully iron over the wax paper, to fuse the two pieces together. At this point, you may want to trim the edges so they’re even and straight. (A paper cutter is handy!)
Step 3: Putting It Together
Cut a few 3/4”-wide strips from the cardstock. Glue a strip along the entire bottom and top edges of the wax paper, making sure the strip is glued to the side that shows the leaves’ brightest colors. Although you can’t tell from the photo, my strips weren’t quite long enough, so I used pieces of another strip to extend them to the edge.
Next, attach the wax paper to the base by lining up the bottom of the wax paper flush with the bottom of the base. (Make sure the side with the cardstock strips faces outward.) Carefully glue around the edges of the base, and roll the wax paper around it. (A hot glue gun makes this step easier, but you’ll have to work quickly.) You’ll end up with some overlap between the two wax paper edges, so run a thin line of glue from bottom to top at the overlap, to close the lantern into a cylindrical shape.
Step 4: Attaching a Handle
Next, make two holes with a hole punch or a pencil point close to the top of the lantern. The holes should be opposite each other. Attach whatever type of handle you’re using through the two holes. If you’re using a paper shopping bag handle or wrapped wire, either twist or glue each end together to fasten securely.
If you intend to light the lantern with a real flame, be very careful- attach a votive candle holder or jar to the lantern base by using a small piece of double-sided tape, and put a tea light inside.