A new trail with a wooden bridge and boardwalk has been installed in Claypit Creek section of Hartshorne Park in Middletown, which means a person can now travel all the way from Huber Woods Park in Locust to Rocky Point in Highlands along nature trails.
The long-planned link by the Monmouth County Park System eliminates the need for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists to travel a distance along Hartshorne Road when traveling between Huber and Hartshorne.
"You can go from one side, Huber, and walk all day through Hartshorne," said Parks Planning Manager Ken Thoman. "This has been in anticipation -- since forever."
The Claypit Creek was acquired in 2005, and the connection was initiated in 2009. It was accomplished with a NJ Recreational Trails Grant of $25,000 to offset the construction costs. A parking lot was installed at Claypit Creek, near the connection, and a fiberglass bridge and boardwalk was installed.
Outdoor enthusiasts traveling the route will experience crossing the Locust Avenue Bridge in a dedicated lane, taking in the views of the waterfront, and then following a path through the parkland to the route in the quiet woods where they will travel over a bridge and a boardwalk to the road crossing. (Improvements to soggier portions of the trail, as well as a crosswalk, are in the works.)
Across Hartshorne Road are 14 miles of extensive and challenging series of trails with names like Buttermilk Valley, Monmouth Hills and Rocky Point totalling nearly 800 acres.
Huber Woods was purchased in 1974. The connecting parcel in Locust was purchased 1977, and it has grown with subsequent acquisitions and donations to 375 acres.