Paddle a canoe across a picturesque lake… drop a kayak on the clear, calm waters of a scenic waterway… get an up-close (maybe even hands-on) look at some colorful local wildlife life… and do it all in “stay-cation” style, as the folks at the Monmouth County Park System offer plenty of reasons to keep it hyper-local here in the pre-Labor Day interlude.
These and other activities are on tap in the days to come in those public places that make life in these parts a recreational pleasure — and they begin today at a site that represents the outer limits of what we call the Greater Red Bank Green.Monday, August 21, 11 a.m.: The morning prelude to Partial Eclipse Viewing Day brings another free weather-permitting session of Seining Along the Bay at Bayshore Waterfront Park (Port Monmouth Road at Wilson Avenue in Middletown Township). The hands-on nature program offers an opportunity to capture, study and release a variety of fish, crabs, and other sea creatures as you help pull a seine net through the calm waters of Sandy Hook Bay (closed-toe shoes are required). It’s open to ages 5 and up; under 18 accompanied by adult (sorry, no groups) — and more info can be had by calling (732) 787-3033 ext. 2. Also on August 23 and 25 at 11 a.m.
Thursday, August 24, 11 a.m.: Keep it at Bayshore Waterfront Park for a free Enviro-Quest Activity Session aimed at young explorers, and conducted by a Park System naturalist at the historic Seabrook-Wilson House activity center. It’s thirty to sixty minutes of nature-related activities, crafts and games, for which info can be had by calling (732) 787-3033 ext. 2.
Friday, August 25, 10:30 a.m.: Join a Park System naturalist and learn about our friends in the order lepidoptera, during a guided Butterfly Walk that rambles and ambles its way around Lincroft’s Thompson Park. The hour-long walking lecture, which may be slightly over one mile in length, is open to ages 7 and up, with all participants under the age of 18 to be accompanied by an adult. Meet up at the park’s Marlu Lake parking area — and call the Park System’s main office at (732) 842-4000 for more info.
Saturday, August 26, 10 a.m.: Keep it tuned to Thompson Park, as Open Shoot Archery returns to the Activity Barn at the Park System’s flagship facility for a four hour open session that’s designed for participants who are experienced with bow and arrow. All equipment is provided (no outside equipment is permitted, and it’s open to ages 10 and up (under 18 with adult). Cost is $10 per person; cash or check only. Call the Park System’s main office at (732) 842-4000 for more info.
Tuesday, August 29, 2 p.m.: The run-up to Labor Day marks the return of weather-permitting Drop-In Kayak Tours on the calm waters of Swimming River Park. Taking place between 2 to 3:30 p.m., the naturalist-guided excursion welcomes individuals and families of all skill levels (no large groups), with single or tandem kayaks and all gear provided for the occasion — just wear get-wet clothing, hat and sunscreen. It’s first-come, first-served, and open to ages 12 and up (under 18 must be accompanied by paying adult); participants must be physically fit, and there are weight limits of 250 pounds for a single and 400 pounds for a double. Call (732) 787-3033 x2 to register.
Saturday, September, 10 a.m.: Noted for its freshwater fishing, hiking scenery, and wildlife-watching opportunities, Marlu Lake at Thompson Park offers the public regular chances to enjoy a paddling excursion on the lake by offering Canoe Rentals on designated weekends. The rowing course takes approximately two hours to complete — and in addition to the boat, the Park System provides all the necessary gear as part of the rental fee of $15 per boat (accommodating 1 to 3 people) per two-hour rowing session. It’s open to ages 3 and up (under 18 must be accompanied by adult), and payable by cash or check. Call (732) 842-4000 for more info. Also on Sunday, September 3, 10 a.m.
All outdoor activities are of course subject to weather-related cancellations, so make sure to call ahead — and visit the Park System Calendar of Events for more open-air doings, at facilities all around the county.