MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Go ahead, have that second (or third) helping of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes with no guilt on Thanksgiving.  Then join the FreeWalkers' Gobble Gobble Hike on Friday to work it all off.

Risa Olinsky, President of the local walking group, will lead a five-mile trail hike, around three hours, in South Mountain Reservation.  Highlights will include the Fairy Trail and Hemlock Falls.

(A frozen Hemlock Falls)

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Walkers are encouraged to dress for warmth with layers.  Wear hiking shoes or boots as some areas may be muddy and rocky.  Hiking poles are optional, and some may be available to borrow.  Be sure to bring water and a light snack for quick energy.

Children are welcome with parents or guardians.  Dogs are also welcome, but must remain on a leash. 

For this year's Gobble Gobble Hike, the FreeWalkers will collect donations, for those who choose to give, for the South Mountain Conservancy.  According to its website, the conservancy group "serves as steward and advocate for the 2,110-acre South Mountain Reservation by working to protect, restore and enhance its ecology, natural beauty, and infrastructure through sustainable use, informed public policy, and public education and engagement."

Directions: Enter South Mountain Reservation from South Orange Avenue onto Crest Drive (from either the east or west).  Drive straight to where the road ends, then turn right onto Bear Lane. Park near the gazebo at the dog park, and look for the FreeWalkers banner.

There will be two shorter options, but you are responsible for getting back on your own or arranging a ride for yourself. Call or email for details on this suggestion.

  • Option ONE: Walk to Washington Rock and turn around and retrace your footsteps.
  • Option TWO: Hike 1.5 miles or so to the Fairy Trail entrance where you can be picked up by family or friend, or you can hop a train in Millburn.

Register on Eventbrite for this free event.  For more information, email risafitness@hotmail.com or call 201-618-5582.

FreeWalkers is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that offers events, information, and networking to educate the public on the benefits of walking.