mcps thompson parkPHOTO: Thompson Park, Lincroft

LINCROFT—Spring is here and brings with it many opportunities to go outside and enjoy your county parks.   Stretching over 17,000+ acres, the Monmouth County Park System has it all – playgrounds, beaches, gardens, golf courses, forests, wetlands and plenty of wide open space – making it the perfect place to enjoy the season.  Perhaps one of the best ways to explore the Park System is on its trails.  From an easy walk to a challenging hike and everything in between, the Park System has it all.  Area residents can be found hiking, bicycle riding, and exploring nature on the 130+ miles of trails in the county parks.  These trails are just one way the Park System helps visitors enjoy the season.

For many people, the best part of spring is the start of a new golf season.  Officially underway, the Park System’s 2019 golf season offers great rates at great courses.   Golfers can tee off at Bel-Aire in Wall, Charleston Springs in Millstone, Hominy Hill in Colts Neck, Howell Park in Farmingdale, Pine Brook in Manalapan or Shark River in Neptune. 

Spring also brings the start of the Park System’s camping season at its family campground in Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. Open April 1 through November 15, this campground features tent and trailer sites as well as several primitive cabins.  The rates are as follows: a tent site per night is $30 for county residents and $34 for non-residents; a recreational vehicle/trailer site per night is $36 for county residents and $40 for non-residents; and a cabin per night is $65 for county residents and $75 for non-residents.  Cabin rentals require a two-night stay.

Although Turkey Swamp Park is beautiful this time of year, there’s nowhere as colorful as Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown, once the flowers bloom. Gardeners and non-gardeners alike will enjoy wandering the paths of this breathtaking site and seeing spring in bloom.  Holmdel Park is another great site for soaking up the beauty of the season. With its arboretum and weeping cherry trees along the pond, the park blossoms each spring. Please note that early spring flowers and cherry blossoms usually bloom mid to late April; depending on temperatures.

While at Holmdel Park, stop by Historic Longstreet Farm and see staff dressed in period clothes tending this living history farm.  The Park System’s other historic site, Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold, begins it gristmill demonstrations in April.  Held from 1-4 p.m., these demonstrations continue on weekends through November. 

The Park System also offers family-friendly events including the Spring Craft Show from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at the Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls, and Wool Days/Sheep Shearing from 12-3 p.m. on Saturday & Sunday, April 27 & 28 at Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel.  The season also brings the Park System’s annual Earth Day Celebration.  Held from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, the celebration offers nature-themed activities at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth; Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown; Freneau Woods Park, Aberdeen; Huber Woods Park, Middletown; Manasquan Reservoir, Howell; and Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch. 

Then May brings the Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap from 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4 at Tatum Park, Middletown; the Creative Arts & Music Festival from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 at Thompson Park, Lincroft; and Walnford Day from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 at Historic Walnford, Upper Freehold. 

Details for these events, as well as a list of upcoming hikes, nature programs, craft workshops and more, can be found in the Park System’s spring issue of its Parks and Programs Guide.  To learn more about the Park System’s offerings, visit www.MonmouthCountyParks.com or call 732-842-4000. The TTY/TDD number for persons with hearing impairment is 711.   

The Monmouth County Park System, created in 1960 by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, is Monmouth County’s Open Space, Parks, and Recreation agency.