Places To Run: The Sourland Mountain Preserve

Ahhh, the Sourlands. “Let’s go. Let’s go there right now!”

4,000 acres of hilly terrain, situated in Hillsborough and partially Montgomery. It’s closer than you think from from 206, Princeton, Bridgewater and even New Brunswick. The park is managed by the good people of the Somerset County Park Commission (my former employer). 20140705_140411It’s the quintessential trail running spot. There are a handful of trails ranging in difficulty and length including the Pondside trail (0.5 miles) all the way to the 5-mile Ridge Loop. All of which are just steep enough to get your heart pumping a little faster.

Lots of runners make it a point to get to Devil’s Half Acre, a collection of giant boulders that can easily confuse you and make you lose your bearings. Devil’s Half Acre has some folklore behind it. Legend has it that husbands would head there and never be seen again.

Sourlands regulars, Vincent and Sherry Galluccio, describe the park wonderfully, “It’s a hidden gem in a suburban world. A little bit rough plus a little bit of a challenge.” They also mentioned that it is a great spot for dogs and it offers all levels of hiking.

What it lacks in complexity, the park makes up for in enjoyability and pure beauty… a simple facility right off Hillsborough’s East Mountain Road with a little flare. There is one gravely parking lot, 1 port-o-john, a small kiosk with some maps and a handful of the State’s greatest trails.

Here is the secret… the park’s best running spot is actually not on the trails. Although the trails are awesome, our running buddies and us tend to prefer the pipeline. A steep climb up the mountain’s face just to the South (left side) of the parking lot, the pipeline is what you want to run! When you reach the summit, the view is worth the agony getting there and you will be inclined to do your best Rocky 4 “Draaaago” scream. Feel free by the way.

Pros

Lots of shade

Tons of footbridges to help avoid the muddier sections

An absolutely awesome view

You can cross Devil’s Half Acre off of your Weird NJ list

Cons/Warnings

It gets dark fast. It sounds elementary, but I used to see it a lot. Folks are miles away from the parking lot and it is pitch black in a matter of moments

Bring bug spray

Be careful of ticks, particularly near the high grasses adjacent to the pipeline

Bring water

Hidden Secret

5 minutes away are the world’s best chicken wings at Murphy’s Neshanic Crocodile Inn. Not easy to find, but if you do, you’ll thank us!

 

 

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Charlie Hoffmann

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