Año Nuevo State Park

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Año Nuevo State Park  is about 55 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 1, and is known for its elephant seal breeding colony. This is one of the world’s largest colonies for the northern elephant seal. The seals swim  an average of 2000 miles every year on their migration from the Arctic to Año Nuevo.

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We were there on the very first day of what is considered ‘Juvenile Haul Out Season’, which begins after the April-August Molting Season. To see the babies, you need to take a guided hike with a docent during breeding season which is mid-December through March. The park is closed for two weeks at the beginning of December when the pregnant females arrive to give birth.

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When it’s not breeding season, you must hike from the visitor center over about 3 miles of sand dunes to the seal viewing platform. We were concerned that my disabled cousin wouldn’t be able to do that hike with her cane and unsteady feet. I checked into the state park’s Equal Access program and was able to reserve a docent-guided tour that bypassed the sandy hike.

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We arrived in the midst of a blistering heat wave, a little early for our scheduled tour. We perused the exhibits in the Visitor Center and watched the short film. The journey the elephant seals make each year is remarkable!

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Then we boarded a van and our guide drove us on unpaved park roads to the Equal Access Trail. This is a quarter-mile boardwalk trail out to the viewing platform. Our guide walked with us, pointing out various flora and fauna along the way.

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What a wonderful service this is for the disabled! We are so grateful to the park and our docent for providing us with this amazing experience. We learned a lot about the elephant seal life cycle and saw some huge bulls on the shore.

Location: 1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

Designation: State Park

Date designation declared: 1985

Date of my visit: September 2017

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Año Nuevo Island is just off the point and is part of the State Park and Reserve. The abandoned buildings are the remains of a 19th century light-keeping station.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park: Maritime Forest Trail

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Happy Blogiversary to National Parks with T! It’s been a year since I first started this blog. Many thanks to those who have come along for the journey!

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Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.

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After climbing to the top of Barnegat Lighthouse, I decided to walk the quarter-mile Maritime Forest Trail behind the visitor center. Most people were in the visitors center, by the lighthouse or out on the jetty so I was able to take a peaceful, leisurely stroll on the sandy trail.

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A maritime forest grows on the dunes farthest from the shore and consists of trees, bushes and plants adapted to the salty environment. Many of the trees here are fruit bearing and so provide a bountiful home for birds and other critters.

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Maritime forests once covered the length of the Jersey Shore, but most were lost to agricultural or recreational development. In Barnegat State Park, there were 30 acres of forests, but erosion has washed away all but two acres. The short loop winds through this remnant with placards identifying the flora along the way.

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View of the Maritime Forest remnant from the top of Barnegat Light. The Visitor Center is the rectangular building at lower left. You can see the loop trail extending behind it into the trees.

Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

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Location: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

Designation: State Park

Date designated or established: January 1944

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

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Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

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Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.

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After visiting Absecon in Atlantic City and then Tuckerton Seaport, I headed out to the northern end of Long Beach Island and Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. This historic lighthouse is a sister to the Cape May and Absecon lights and is similar in design.

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In 1835 a 40-foot-tall lighthouse was erected in this spot, but its small stature and non-flashing light was inadequate. In 1859, ‘Old Barney’ replaced this older light, which had fallen into the sea.

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Jetties have been built around the lighthouse to prevent the further erosion of the island. There were several people fishing from the jetty when I was there.

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When completed, Barnegat Light stood 172 feet above sea level, four times taller than the original. The new light was a first-order flashing Fresnel lens.

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The light became obsolete and was deactivated  in January 1944 and given to the State of New Jersey. The Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, a local non-profit organization, campaigned to reactivate the lighthouse.

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A new, more modern light was installed and was lit on Barnegat Light’s 150th anniversary in 2009. It now shines daily from dusk until dawn. The original Fresnel lens is on display at the Barnegat Light museum around the corner.

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After going to the adjacent visitor center, I climbed the 217 steps to the top of the lighthouse and was treated to spectacular views of nearby Island Beach State Park and the more commercial Long Beach Island.

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Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

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Location: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

Designation: State Park, NRHP

Date designated or established: 1957 (State Park), 1/25/1971 (NRHP)

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! Merry Christmas to my followers who celebrate and best wishes to all for a Happy New Year.

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Earlier this month, my daughter and I visited Ringwood Manor for the Victorian Christmas Event. The Manor was built in 1807 and then purchased by the Cooper-Hewitt family in 1853. The 51 room mansion was donated to the state by Erskine Hewitt, the last heir of the family’s iron fortune.

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In December, the Women’s Club of West Milford decorates the first floor of the mansion and hosts an open house to raise funds for the park. We enjoyed browsing the rooms and I remembered some of the history from my previous visit and guided tour. A more detailed post on this park is coming soon! Happy holidays!

Ringwood State Park posts:
  • Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District (Coming Soon)
  • Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Victorian Christmas at Ringwood Manor (Coming Soon)
  • Skylands Botanical Gardens (Coming Soon)

Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Designation: National Historic Landmark District, State Park

Date designated or established: November 13, 1966

Date of my visit: 12/8/2018

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