getaway Camp Glen Gray offers rustic camping and challenging trails.
April is the perfect time for families to welcome the arrival of spring with an exciting day of family hiking through one of Bergen County's many scenic parks, camps or nature reservations.
Designated a National Historic Landmark, the Palisades Interstate Park boasts an ideal setting for a day of family hiking, including 30 miles of hiking trails, riverfront picnic areas, scenic overlooks, a nature sanctuary and, of course, plenty of historic sites to complement its rugged woodlands.
"It's all part of the excitement," Eric Nelsen, historical interpreter for the park, says. "People are surprised by how rugged it can get."
The New Jersey headquarters of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission is in Alpine. To learn more, call (201) 768-1360 or visit njpalisades.org.
Instead of spending the weekend parked in front of the television, grab the kids and head up to Camp Glen Gray, an overnight campground that offers families a chance to reconnect.
"It's a rustic campground, but we do offer events and a family camp in July," administrative director Nancy Garelick says.
Families are invited to enjoy a scenic hike during their weekend camping excursion in one of the site's cabins, lean-tos and tents, in addition to taking advantage of opportunities to fish and take a boat out on the lake. The camp features a variety of hikes for all skill levels, from a one-mile walkabout to a challenging 10-mile hike.
Camp Glen Gray is on the border of Oakland and Mahwah. For more information, call (201) 327-7234 or visit glengray.org.
Bergen County's largest park area, Ramapo Valley's 4,000 acres, is located on the edge of the Highlands Region. There's no shortage of hills and valleys for hiking, but families will also have plenty of opportunities to take a break with a picnic lunch beside the Ramapo River or one of the reservation's many ponds.
"Ramapo is popular with families because they can cross a wooden bridge over the Ramapo River and find Scarlet Oak Pond, and then take a nice hike up the hill to MacMillan reservoir," Todd Cochran, county park superintendent, says.
Best of all, mapping your family's hike is a cinch thanks to the park's 20 miles of marked hiking trails. The trails are marked, mapped and maintained by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
The Ramapo Valley County Reservation is at Ramapo Valley Road and Route 202 in Mahwah. To learn more, call (201) 327-3500.
Meet the wildlife, smell some wildflowers, and experience the ideal setting for children and hiking beginners at the Tenafly Nature Center. Tucked away on the plateau of the Palisades Rock Formation, the center's relatively flat terrain, three-acre Pfister's Pond and 400 acres of oak forest attract families from all over the region.
"For families who are new to hiking or have younger children, this is the perfect place to start," Jennifer Kleinbaum, executive director for the Tenafly Nature Center, says. The center also offers guided nature walks and clearly marked trails.
The Tenafly Nature Center is at 313 Hudson Ave. in Tenafly. To learn more, call (201) 568-6093 or visit tenaflynaturecenter.org.