Funny Name, Fabulous State Park

If you ever find yourself in North Central New Jersey (the pretty part, yes there is a pretty part!) and looking for a place to spend some quality time allow me to suggest Hacklebarney State Park. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic, hike, a little trout fishing, or simply getting back to nature. Perhaps more importantly it’s one of the best places on the planet to take your pooch.

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Located near Chester Township, Hacklebarney State Park is almost 1200 acres of forest featuring, among other plant species, American ginseng, Hemlock, Leatherwood, and Virginia Pennywort all looking down on the flowing, occasionally rushing, waters of the Black River. Numerous trails get you from point A to point B to point C and back again. All are well marked but at times you will be convinced you’ve wandered off the beaten path only to find a blue, red, or yellow painted mark on a tree up ahead telling you to keep putting one foot in front of the next. On some of the trails the task of putting those feet in front of each other can be difficult thanks to rocks, roots, downed trees and narrow passages but others pathways are wide, well marked and easily passable.

It’s all made easier, of course, if you are led along the way by man’s best friend. Our dog has no trouble at all navigating even the most daunting looking trails especially if they lead her to the cool, refreshing waters of the Black River for a drink. Dog or no dog if you wander through Hacklebarney you’ll pass families, friends, fishermen and women, and nature lovers all taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the park. While there may be hundreds of cars in the parking lot and that many people, or more, in the park you can find yourself alone on certain trails for hundreds and hundreds of yards.

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The park is “carry in, carry out” meaning there are no trash receptacles on the property so everything you have with you when you enter is expected to be with you when you exit. Another thing to keep in mind is that many of the trails feature elevation changes that are sure to elevate your heart rate. It’s all downhill to the Black River which means, of course, it’s straight up the hill to get back to your car but you don’t have to hike all the way down to the river. You can wander along the Rinehart or Trout Brooks (tributaries that feed the river) and enjoy lunch or a snack at one of the dozens of picnic tables (some with accompanying barbecues).

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If your perception of the Garden State is the Newark airport, the Meadowlands or one of the
many exits off the Turnpike I hope you’ll expand your horizons and find your way to Morris County and enjoy an hour, an afternoon or an entire day at Hacklebarney State Park. For more information check out http://www.state.nj.us and click on “Things to do” or google Hacklebarney State Park.

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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