“What exit?!” When I was in college in the late 70s, that was the most common refrain heard when you declared you were from New Jersey. Though I grew up in suburban Bergen County, our neighborhood had its share of humble natural wonders – brooks brimming with fish and frogs; ponds whose marshy margins harbored prehistoric-looking baby snapping turtles; pickerelweed and cardinal flower; duck nests. We ventured afield to the Ramapo Mountains and fell in love with its craggy, oak-covered hilltops.
When I took my first job – running a wildlife refuge for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island – after graduating from college, I grew defensive about the “What exit?” snub, and decided to write a book that celebrated my native Garden State, via a series of hikes from High Mountain to Sandy Hook. In 1992, ten years after Twenty-five Walks in NJ was first published, Gordon Miller and I added five more walks, for Thirty Walks in New Jersey. Both books have been out-of-print for a few years, but I like to think that there are still a few people who are finding their way into the woods with them.