St. Michael's Farm Preserve
This is the first time we visited this lovely little area, with a nice mixture of trails following the perimeters of farm fields as well as more rugged trails through a clearly less-hiked forest. It is also a hike that gave us a very special surprise, as you will read below!

First our track. Using this trail map, we parked on CR 569. This is really the only lot, and can accomodate at least a dozen cars, the other two Ps on the map are road pull-offs). We headed east on the 0.18-mile segment, then north zig-zagging to the 0.87-mile loop of the northern farm field. There is a very nice view of Bedens Brook along this way. At the southern tip of the field we crossed the brook and next paralleled the other side of the brook, along the 0.13-mile segment, then the 0.13 segment south to the Charles Evans Overlook (not indicated on the map) with a view to Sourland Mountain. We then headed east to Aunt Molly Road (didn't see Aunt Molly, she must be in Florida for the winter), and headed north to hike the 0.77-mile lollipop. It is here where the surprise occurred...

I have had a "virtual" hiking friend for years. We have never met in person (she hikes very early with her faithful canine companion, I hike a bit later with my faithful human companion). But since first communicating on February 2, 2012, nearly every week we have checked each others photos to see where we hiked, at times realizing that we were within miles of each other (in an area that includes NJ, NY and PA). I often get ideas from places she has discovered, sometimes she gets ideas from me. She and I have had photos published in the very same hiking books. Today, while winding around the eastern part of that lollipop, in a park that both of us were discovering for the very first time, we bumped into Daniela and Shawnee! What a nice surprise! We chatted for a while, pet little Shawnee, and then headed opposite ways. Had she and I not chosen opposite legs at the lollipop fork, we probably never would have met each other! But we did, almost exactly four years after our email correspondence began!

We returned south along Aunt Molly Road to the main preserve, heading south on the 0.27-mile segment. We next took the 0.23-mile segment in the woods, now blazed yellow. We then took north the blue-blazed 0.45-mile leg, the 0.18-mile segment (no longer blazed) to the 0.14-segment east, then the 0.08-mile segment, back to the same bridge over Bedens Brook continuing north on the 0.22 and then back to the car with the final 0.22 segment.

Total distance hiked today was 5 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes, not including 15 minutes of petting Shawnee.

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Daniela & Shawnee

Us with Shanwee [photo by Daniela]

Daniela, Shawnee & Laura









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