Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sourland Spectacular Bike and Hike

From the Sourland Planning Council:
The Sourland Spectacular Bike & Hike should prove a unique and fun rally for outdoor enthusiasts on Saturday, September 8. The morning rides and guided hikes of this fundraiser will be followed by a gourmet lunch and other offerings.

The bicycling event will offer challenging road routes for serious cyclists, as well as shorter alternatives for more casual bikers. Routes of 37, 50 and 63 miles are planned, all of which include some climbing to reach the beautiful Sourland Mountain ridge. All routes begin and end at the Somerset County Sourland Mountain Preserve on East Mountain Road in Hillsborough Township.

“The bike routes traverse the large Sourland forest and adjacent picturesque farmland”, said SPC President Cliff Wilson. “They were carefully planned to include moderate climbs followed by exhilarating downhill stretches through open vistas.”

There will be coffee and snacks at registration, starting at 7 a.m. Designated rest stops along the biking routes will offer beverages, snacks and bathroom facilities. SAG services also will be provided.

Hikers also will meet at the Preserve for this first, ever hiker’s rally event. Naturalists will be on hand to guide hikes of varying lengths, times and difficulty levels from the parking area on the half-hour starting at 8 a.m. Hike offerings will include birding, photography, geocaching, geology, botany, history and plain healthy comradery and fun. For more details, go here.

While some people go cycling, others love to hike the Sourlands! Even if your family cannot agree, have the best of both worlds! Come enjoy a fantastic 5 hr. morning FULL of guided Sourland hiking options, all included with event registration!

“Families with diverse interests can go their own ways to cycle or hike. After burning all those carbs they can hook up again to share their stories over a fabulous lunch,” said Sourland Planning Director Tamara Garaffa, who is a trained naturalist.

Crispy thin-crust pizza – called the best pizza in New Jersey -- will be prepared on-site in the portable wood-burning oven of Nomad Pizza between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm, included in registration. Dessert will be a homemade brownie sundae featuring premium ice cream and the Sourland Spectacular gourmet chocolate sauce.

The 90-square-mile Sourland region is home to the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey. The sparsely populated area is home to an incredibly rich diversity of animal and plant species, many rare or endangered.

The registration fee is $35 per person, with $5 discount available for early on-line registration. The fee for children between the ages 7 to 17 is $20. No charge for children under 7. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Event will be held rain or shine. Please dress appropriately for weather and bring a reusable water bottle.

Go to the registration table by parking lot first for event and lunch tickets. All hikes meet at Trail Head. You may sign up for as many hikes as you are able! (Keep anticipated return times in mind.) Participants who register in advance are guaranteed commemorative T-shirts.

Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes/boots and bring a water bottle. Event is rain or shine, dress appropriately.

8:00 a.m. Hike to Roaring Rocks on Roaring Ridge Trail w/ birding stops, 3 hr., 4 mi., 300 foot gradual climb, ages 9 and up – Led by Naturalist/SPC Dir. Tamara Garaffa and a local birding expert. Bring binoculars if you’ve got them (optional).

9:00 a.m. Natural and Geologic History Hike to Devil’s Half Acre on Northern Ridge Rail, 2.5 to 3 hr., 3 to 4 mi., 300 ft. climb, ages 7 and up – Led by Stony Brook Millstone’s Naturalist Jeff Hoagland

9:30 a.m. Guided Geocaching Hikes (preceded by brief demo), learn how to do these fun treasure hunts, all ages, beginner to expert – choose from various length options – Leader/ Geocaching Expert Eric Lemon

10:00 a.m. Nature and Landscape Photography Hike by Legendary Open Space Advocate and Photographer Clem Fiori & SPC Trustee Joanna Fiori

11:00 a.m. Botanical Hike - learn about the native and invasive plants within the Sourlands, all ages – Led by Naturalist/SPC Trustee Jaed Rosenbaum, 1 hr., ~ 1 mi.

11:30 a.m. Geocaching Hikes (preceded by brief demo), learn how to do these fun treasure hunts, all ages, beginner to expert – choose from various length options – Led by Geocaching Expert Eric Lemon

12:00 p.m. Family-friendly Sourlands Hike, historic and botanical tour includes Legends and Tales of the Mountain 1 hr., ¾ mi. loop thru gently sloped woodlands, fields, all ages – Led by SPC Trustee Dr. Charlie Clark and SPC founder Andrea Bonette.

More info on Geocaching Hikes by Leader Eric Lemon:In addition to hiking, experienced geocachers will be on hand to provide geocaching demonstrations and small group "geohikes." Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices (bring your hand-held GPS or GPS enabled cell phone, if you have one. Not required). Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container of surprises such as swappable ‘swag’ or travel bugs) hidden at that location. Hundreds of thousands of geocaches can be found all over the world including your local park, at the end of a long hike, even underwater or on the side of a city street. You will be able to learn and appreciate this fun outdoor game with geocaches hidden within the Sourland Preserve.

More info on Natural and Geologic History Hike by Leader Jeff Hoagland:2.5 - 3 hour exploratory hike following the northern half of the ridge loop to Devils Half Acre boulder field, examining natural and geologic history. Appropriate for adults and families (7 years & up), distance - 3 to 4 miles and elevation change - 400 ft. Route on County Preserve map, from Trail Head > 1 > Devil's Half-Acre > 4 > 3 > 2 > 12 > 13.

Proceeds will benefit the Sourland Planning Council, a non-profit organization working to protect the ecological integrity, historical resources and special character of the Sourland Mountain region.

Meet other hikers and bikers - Join us for this Sourland rally!

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