VERNON — Sussex County may find itself in the grip of winter, but that hasn’t stopped residents and tourists alike from enjoying all the excellent outdoor activities the area has to offer. The Appalachian Trail (AT) Boardwalk, located at Route 517, McAfee Glenwood Road, is perhaps the most popular hiking destination Sussex County has to offer.
The AT boardwalk is without a doubt an excellent location to experience one of Sussex Counties most picturesque settings. And, in spite of the cold weather — or sometimes because of it — people from all over the area come out to do the easy, three-mile round trip hike over flat terrain, with a bridge that crosses high over Pochuck Creek.
More serious hikers often take the opportunity to continue on the AT, and do the Stairway to Heaven hike up the Pinwheel Vista on Wawayanda Mountain. But, both word-of-mouth and social media have increased the trails’ popularity by so much, that in the summer it has become what some have described as insufferable.
But, during the winter months, access to the boardwalk becomes easier as the crowds lessen. People can walk the boardwalk without feeling rushed. Photographers flock to capture the unique landscape, and lovers can walk blissfully hand-in-hand, and not separated single-file as to allow other to pass.
Professional photographer Benedict Hudson from Campbell, N.Y., was also out with his dog, a yellow lab named Clementine. “I really like the trail, it’s a great way to meet people,” Hudson said, “especially with Clementine.” “It’s an amazing location for photos,” Hudson said. “The scenery is just amazing. I like to enjoy and take in nature; there’s a stillness that is kind of nice and relaxing out here.” With its increased use, the boardwalk has begun to show signs of wear. Originally completed in 2002, some boards have begun to rot, causing screws to stick out. Extra care should be taken when walking dogs.
Becky Beltrone, of Vernon, was also out taking photographs with her boyfriend, Brenden Gerity, of West Milford. “This our first time walking the trail in the winter,” Beltrone said. ” We just wanted something new to do. A new adventure. In the winter it’s not crowded, there’s room to walk. You don’t have to pass people every five minutes.” For Gerity, this was his first time walking the AT. “I’m not much of a hiker, I grew up in Bergen County,” he said. “She’s bringing me out here and I like it. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Call it coincidence, or call it Mother Nature, but it’s not surprising to see young men out of their comfort zone, and trying new things at the invitation of a young ladies, espcially so close to St. Valentine’s Day. Take, for example, Vernon resident Kaitlyn Esposito and her boyfriend of “about two weeks,” Alec Gilarde, both students at Farleigh Dickinson University in Madison. They were spotted walking arm in arm on the boardwalk last week, enjoying the walk, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the warmer-than-usual weather, and, of course, obviously enjoying each other’s company.
— Posted: Feb. 3, 2017 12:01 am NJ Herald