7 Dreamy Ways to Embrace Autumn

Sweater weather, apple picking, pumpkin spice everything–Fall has arrived! New Jersey is ripe with autumn activities.

The first day of Autumn rouses thoughts of hiking Jersey’s numerous trails, scoping out the perfect pumpkin patch and maybe even venturing to a haunted house. Welcome the new season by mapping out fall day trips right here in the Garden State.

1. Enjoy the great outdoors

The panorama from Catfish Fire Tower, looking east toward Fairview Lake and Long Pine Pond.

Photo by Bryce Gladfelter

Tackling the entire Appalachian Trail is ambitious even for experienced hikers. Try one of the four shorter wilderness hikes on New Jersey’s 72.2 miles of the iconic trail. The Rattlesnake Swamp loop, Sunfish Pond loop, the trail to Sunrise Mountain and High Point State Park are among the easier trails to attempt. There are plenty of views and wildlife–be sure to bird-watch, take a pitstop at ponds and keep an eye out for bears.

2. Sip some cider

Volunteers unload truckloads of apples for pressing at Ralston Cider Mill.

Photo by Matthew Wright

Join the historic Ralston Cider Mill in Mendham for its annual apple pressing on October 8 from 1-4 p.m. Once a year, volunteers crank up the mill and welcome guests to take a tour, watch the cider-making process and sample the sweet stuff. Long-valued commodities in New Jersey, apples were turned into the popular distilled applejack Jersey lightning during the Ralston Mill’s heyday.

3. Take a picturesque hike

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Anthony Quintano.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Anthony Quintano.

While waiting for foliage to reach its peak, there’s no better time to plan a hike on one of Jersey’s incredible trails. The Palisades Interstate Park has something to offer avid and first-time hikers alike. Guided tours, history hikes, nature hikes, full-moon hikes and children’s hikes are all available on the rocky trails and dramatic cliffs at the Palisades. After you hike through the park, which encompasses more than 100,000 acres, take a break at the top to admire the foliage.

4. Visit an alpaca farm

Alpacas socialize at Scotia Acres in Lumberton.

Photo by Laura Moss

Jersey is home to dozens of alpaca farms. Stop by this fall to mingle with these fluffy and friendly creatures. Bay Springs Farm in Cape May, Scotia Acres Alpacas in Lumberton and Woodsedge Wools Farm in Stockton are just a few alpaca farms that welcome visitors. Guests can spend the day with these lovable animals, plus purchase alpaca goods and yarn in stores on the farms for knitting and crocheting.

5. Peruse Princeton

Bicyclists enjoy the picturesque (and flat) D&R Canal State Park towpath.

Photo by Brent Herrig

Enjoy the lesser-known attractions of Jersey’s Ivy League haven in Princeton. Aside from the impressive college campus and the historic sites and buildings, Princeton offers outdoor activities, eateries and festivals that are worth checking out. Walk or bike along the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, head to the Terhune Orchards’ Harvest Festival, take a ghost tour of the town or try the Ivy Inn to satisfy your appetite.

6. Scare yourself silly

Reporter Maryrose Mullen receives "Touch Training" from Brighton Asylum CEO Richard Gonci.

Photo by Roy Caratozzolo III

From the Parkway phantom to the Jersey Devil, the Garden State boasts many spooky legends. For all the thrill-seekers who are unfazed by apparitions and stories, plan a visit to Brigthon Asylum. Creepy actors in ragged clothes and gory makeup set the scene for the eerie spot. According to its (fictional) backstory, Brighton Asylum was once a hospital for the mentally unstable. The patients killed the staff after being mistreated. Still not scared? Go to the asylum on a Contact Night, when attendees can be grabbed by a ghoul.

7. Ride the Railroad

Jersey’s Palisades have a hike for every skill level—plus hawk watching, picMorris County Central 385 heading for Horseshoe Curve Oct. 1977 nicking and more.

Morris County Central 385 heading for Horseshoe Curve, Oct. 1977. Photo courtesy of the Whippany Rail Museum.

Hop aboard a restored passenger car for a ride through the backwoods. Learn about New Jersey’s old-fashioned railroads during a tour of our state’s locomotives while enjoying a unique traveling experience. Some of the restored railroad cars have fall-themed events, like the Pumpkin Festival at Whippany Railway Museum, and others, like the Black River & Western Railroad, offer excursions to local pumpkin patches, hay rides and corn mazes.

Read more Just For the Web, Listicle, Outdoors articles.

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