With crisp weather and many bright days, fall and early winter are a great time of year to hit the trail, whether on foot or horseback. There are many opportunities coming up at Somerset County Parks in Basking Ridge, and at Duke Island Park in nearby Bridgewater.
Naturalist-led nature walks, “One Hour Wanderings,” at the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge are scheduled for various Saturdays and Sundays from September through January. The hour long interpretive walks focus on a different theme each week. The walks are free of charge and preregistration is not required. The walk is not designed for organized groups.
Saturday walks from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. are scheduled for Oct. 13; Nov. 24; Dec. 22; and Jan. 26. Sunday walks from noon to 1 p.m. are scheduled for Sept. 23 and 30; November 11 and18; Dec. 23 and 30; and Jan. 13.
The Environmental Education Center is located at 190 Lord Stirling Road and is open seven days each week. Call 908-766-2489 for schedule updates. The Somerset County Park Commission's center is nestled within 450 acres of the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. Its variety of habitats include: floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, fields, forests, and nautral and man-made ponds. These habitats provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park. All are within walking distance of the multi-faceted building.
An environmentally-based library is located within the center itself, which also has an exhibit hall that hosts environmentally-focused presentations free to the public. Also, blue “BOBO (Buy One — Bring One) Fridays” bins are located at the EEC and Lord Stirling Stable in Basking Ridge, as well as at the Somerset County Park Commission headquarters at North Branch Park in Bridgewater. The public is invited to drop off canned food or personal-care items for Somerset County food banks. For more information visit www.somersetcountyparks.org
Annual fall nature ride this weekend
The non-profit Friends of Lord Stirling Stable will host the annual Fall Nature Ride on Sunday, Sept. 23, on the grounds of the county's Lord Stirling Stable at 256 S. Maple Ave. in Basking Ridge. The hour-long ride will begin at 7:30 a.m. with check-in at 7 a.m. Riders are invited to stay for a Hunt Breakfast following the ride.
This horseback event is open to all adult riders and their family and friends. Junior riders (12 years of age and above if not currently enrolled at Lord Stirling) may participate if accompanied by an adult. The one-hour guided trail ride is conducted at a walk. All riders will be assigned horses. Guides will be happy to point out and attempt to identify plants, birds and animals along the equestrian trails of Lord Stirling Park. People with little or no riding experience are welcome.
Experienced English-style riders may also enjoy the leisurely ride along the eighteen miles of trails with their non-rider friends. Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee for the Nature Ride is $25 for members of the Friends of Lord Stirling Stable and $30 for non-members.
Certified ASTM/SEI riding helmets and boots or shoes with hard, smooth soles and a definite heel are required and may be rented in the stable office for $3 each. All riders must be pre-enrolled with registration forms available in the stable office or online at www.flssnj.org. For directions to the stable, call the office at 908-766-5955 or NJ Relay 711 for individuals with hearing impairments.
Duke Island Park Wednesday morning walks continue
A weekly walking group continues to meet every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Duke Island Visitor’s Center for a healthy walk along a beautiful stretch of the Raritan River at Duke Island Park in Bridgewater.
Coffee, tea, and treats will be provided after the walk, with congenial company. For information call 908-722-1200, ext. 226. Duke Island Park is located off Old York Road in Bridgewater. The walk is free of charge and continues weekly as weather permits. Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found online at the county parks website.