New Jersey - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

I suppose I should start by apologizing for being MIA lately. Studying for my NASM exam has really consumed a lot of my free time. Y'all, I'm taking the test at the end of this month and I'm really nervous about it! I'm in the home stretch, and blogging will get back to normal soon. 

This past weekend was lovely. I had Friday off because 4th of July fell on a Saturday this year. Matt and I + our friend Kaitie took advantage of the extra day by squeezing in a day hike in Northern New Jersey. 

Since our last hike was really far away in the Adirondacks, we wanted to make this one closer and easier. Remember how Morton's paws got torn up last time? We have been trying to train him better for hikes, and also didn't want all of his hiking experiences to be really unpleasant. 

We chose Ramapo because it was only an hour and a half drive from our apartment. Not to mention, the site mentioned "castle ruins," which sounded pretty great. 

Towards the beginning of the hike, I started questioning whether doing an "easy hike" was a good idea. It felt like we were walking on a road through the suburbs. Don't get me wrong, the house (above) with the garden was lovely, it just didn't make it feel like we were out in the wilderness. 

After we got off the road, the hike felt much more woodsy. 

There was a beautiful lake, full of frogs and lilly pads. This area was a little crowded with fishers and families and people with lots of big dogs off leash [Not a good situation for Morton. He screamed like a human when 4 retreivers came running at him].

The climb became steeper and I actually had to pick Morton up to get him on top of a high ledge on the way to the castle. 

The castle area was really cool. It felt like I was in a Tomb Raider movie or something. Does that mean I'm one step closer to becoming as bad-a as Angelina? We sat on the castle walls and ate our lunches. Morton took a much needed rest and drank lots of water. 

Shortly after leaving the first castle, we came upon this castle tower. On the opposite side of the tower, there was a doorway that you could peer into. I was nervous that it would be a tomb, but I think it might have just been a water tower. 

After leaving the tower, we somehow got off the main path and onto an "unmaintained trail." We were somewhat lost for a little bit, but Matt and Kaitie were map champions and got us back to the lake. Overall, we were really happy with this little hike. It was easy, but not so easy that it was boring. I'd say this is a good hike for first-timers and people looking for something less strenuous than a high peak. 

We drove home, showered, and finally put the lights up in our backyard. Our little Brooklyn yard is such a quiet little space. I absolutley love it. Matt and I cooked up some chicken, veggies, and sweet potatoes and had a date in the yard. It was lovely. 

How was your 4th of July weekend?