Step Outside - New Jersey WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - New Jersey 144 144 Thu, 23 May 2024 17:20:39 -0500 10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in New Jersey Whether you’re surfcasting the Jersey shore, setting out in a skiff, or flicking flies on freshwater, fishing requires tackle. And you typically need bait, whether artificial or natural, as well. Of course, you can get these things at any bait and tackle shop. The best shops also offer up character and advice on what’s biting and where the action is. That’s what makes these our favorite bait and tackle shops in the Garden State.

If you find yourself fishing on Long Beach Island, you’re going to want to gear up at Surf City Bait & Tackle first. Not only do they sell plenty of live bait and a solid selection of tackle and gear, they also offer rentals, daily fishing reports, and weekly fishing talks from experienced locals. 

Anglers planning to fish in the South Amboy area should stop into Fred’s Bait & Tackle to get an update on what’s currently running the shore and what they’re hitting. They’ll tell you what you should be targeting, what to use for bait, and then, of course, happily sell it to you.

Got me up @ 4:30 in the morning for fishing ..... We better catch something

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24 HR Bait & Tackle is open 24 hours during the high season, but all three of their South Jersey locations (Egg Harbor Township, Marmora, and Somers Point) are open seven days a week year-round. They sell and deliver bait, offer a full range of saltwater tackle and gear, and will even repair your rod or reel.

Anglers in the Sandy Hook area hit up Atlantic Bait & Tackle not only for bait and the staff’s extensive local knowledge but also for their wide selection of offshore tackle and gear. Atlantic Bait is the only shop in the area that can get offshore anglers the gear they need.

Offshore anglers fishing out of Cape May will appreciate the huge array of tackle and gear at Jim’s Bait & Tackle. They carry everything from reels and soft plastics to leader material and pre-tied rigs. But you don’t have to be in Cape May to take advantage of their selection—just order online.

No matter what you’re fishing for or where you’re doing it—inshore, offshore, on the back bays—Creekside Outfitters probably has what you need to put you on the fish. In addition to bait and tackle, they also issue regular fishing reports, so that you’ll know what’s running before you leave the house.

For more than three decades, anglers on Mystic Island have been relying on Scott’s Bait & Tackle for everything from live bait and fishing reports to parts for Penn Reels. If you buy a surfcasting rod from Scott’s, they’ll even take you outside and show you how to use it.

Folks fishing the Arthur Kill or the Lower Bay can look to FishTales Bait & Tackle for all the gear and bait they need, along with timely information on what’s running and what they’re eating. They’re renowned for their service and advice. Plus, you can pick up some ice and snacks, while you’re there.

Point Pleasant anglers will be pleased that Castaways of Point Bait and Tackle keeps long hours every day, from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. Castaways is known not only for their awesome selection, but also for their deep local knowledge and friendly advice. They also offer reel service, as well as daily wind, weather, and tide reports.

Girls Place Bait & Tackle has been a Port Elizabeth institution for years. Local anglers rely on “the Girls” for their fresh live bait—which can be reserved in advance with a phone call—and local knowledge. They also carry rods, reels, nets, and crabbing gear.

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in New Jersey Whether you’re a hunter or a range archer—or both—in the Garden State, you need the right gear to practice your sport. Fortunately, there are plenty of places that will be happy to set you up with all of the essential equipment. Some even offer ranges where you can practice. These are our favorite archery outfitters in New Jersey.

For more than a quarter century, A&M Archery has been the go-to spot for bow hunters and archers in Central Jersey. They carry a wide selection of equipment from top archery brands. In addition, they have a sizable indoor practice range, as well as a video range, where they host leagues throughout the year.

Pulled the trigger tonight and bought the new Mathews Z3

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Targeteers Archery Pro Shop is a third-generation family business that’s been offering archery gear and expertise since the Eisenhower administration. In addition to a showroom stocked with gear and accessories, you’ll find an indoor range, lessons, leagues, and even youth archery programs at Targeteers.

Strictly Archery in Washington is a neighborhood archery shop that specializes in hometown service. With more than 20 years of experience in the archery business, they offer bow sales, repair, replacement, tuning, and gear. In addition, Strictly Archery carries arrows and tips, as well as releases, targets, and sights. 

Woodbridge Arms & Archery will not only sell you a bow and all the equipment you need to get started, they’ll tune it for you and teach you how to use it, as well. They offer beginner lessons and advanced tutoring. In addition, Woodbridge also services all bows from compounds to crossbows. 

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Helping the hungry. Black Knight Bowbenders in Jackson New Jersey. Great time for a GREAT CAUSE. #dartonarchery #getwaacd

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Garden State Bow & Reel is dedicated to delivering the best archery products and service in the area. They sell bows and crossbows, along with all the accessories you’ll need to get out into the field. They can also sell you your hunting license(s) so you can start hunting right away.

Awesome birthday gift!!!!!!!! YAY! And the guys at this store were wonderful (:

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Bob’s Little Sport Shop has been selling bows, crossbows, and arrows, as well as other archery needs and accessories—all from top archery brands— for more than 50 years. In addition, they also offer archery lessons and coaching for all levels of archers at their indoor range.

Bullseye Archery & Outdoor Supplies is a full-service archery shop that carries bows, strings, and gear from several of the most well-respected archery brands (as well as fishing brands, for that matter). Apart from sales and service, Bullseye also has an archery range on site.

Agony Outdoors is passionate about archery and specializes in compound and recurve bows, along with accessories and equipment. They also tune, repair, and fit bows and crossbows. In addition, Agony Outdoors offers lessons on archery form and fundamentals.

The selection of bows, arrows, and archery accessories at Tackle and Field is as deep as it is wide. They also offer a wide range of archery services, including bow tuning, restringing, and the installation of accessories, as well as custom arrow sizing and reflecting.

Folks in the Newton area look to Simon Peter Sport Company for all their archery needs. They carry several lines of compound bows and crossbows, as well as arrows, quivers, and sights. If you’re not ready to spring for a new bow, have a look at Simon Peter’s used selection.

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5 Best State Park Campsites in the Northeast Camping in the Northeast (especially in the early fall!) is a bucket list item for avid campers, and if you’ve ever experienced it for yourself, it’s easy to see why. There’s something for everyone here, whether you love the cool, crisp air in the mountains or the shimmering coastline of the Atlantic. Take your gear to these five best state park campsites and experience the beauty and peace of the Northeast in the best possible way.

If you’re into paddling and primitive camping, you’ll want to plan your next adventure here. The 92-mile waterway takes you along a middle-of-nowhere journey that’s nothing short of breathtaking. There are also tons of hiking trails to explore, along with old railroads and trains that make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.

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The Genesee River and gorge create a beautiful backdrop for camping. In the fall, the bursts of bright orange, red, and yellow along the river gorge make the entire trip worthwhile. With river rafting and more than 66 miles of hiking trails, it’s no surprise this park has been voted the number one attraction in New York State. 

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By far one of the most diverse parks in Connecticut, Rocky Neck is simply stunning year-round. The area is teeming with birds and other wildlife, which are best seen from the viewing platforms in the saltwater marsh. Beautiful beaches, saltwater fishing and swimming, camping, and hiking make this the perfect site for families. 

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One of Vermont’s most visited parks, Little River is a destination for campers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts. The site was once an early settlement that later become flooded, and you can still see the remnants of old saw mills, cemeteries, bridges, and other vestiges.

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Home of the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse, this state park remains a family favorite place to stay and play. Most notable are the miles of diverse hiking trails, including a challenging-yet-rewarding three-mile trek to the White Clay Cliffs that overlook the Chesapeake Bay. 

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9 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in New Jersey Fall tends to come early in New Jersey, and it’s the best time to celebrate before winter’s icy grip takes over. Throughout the state you can take advantage of crisp fall foliage, day hikes with a view, fall festivals, and no shortage of events that let you take in the best sights and sounds of the season. Whether you’re searching for adventure or a fun day with the family, there’s something for everyone with these nine best outdoor fall activities in New Jersey. 

The Skylands region is famous for its natural scenery, making this family camping resort a must-do in the fall. Amazing foliage hikes and wildlife viewing are favorite fall activities here, but you’ll want to come to one of their fall-themed weekend events. They have everything from scarecrows to apple chunkin’ to tailgate parties and Halloween activities—and more!

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Hiking to the highest point in the state is only part of the fun in the fall. When you reach the top, you can take in the beautiful fall colors of three states. You’ll want to take the Monument Trail to make it to the obelisk, which you can climb an additional 291 steps for even better views.

One of the biggest cycling events in the state takes place in September. The race consists of routes and lengths for riders of varying degrees of ability, including a shorter route for kids only. If the Gran Fondo isn’t for you, there are plenty of other bike races and rides throughout the state in the fall.

Whether you’ve won the Gran Fondo or you’re just passing through during the fall, there’s no better place for a fall refreshment than the Cosy Cupboard Tea Room. This classic tea service is like a step back in time, offering you fine brews served in fine china. It’s a great way to warm up during your day’s adventures, and you won’t experience tea anywhere quite like here.

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Taking up a full weekend in September, Terhune Orchards celebrates its annual Apple Day. Fun for the whole family, you can expect fresh apple pies, apple cider, and apple donuts, along with other food favorites like roast. There are tons of activities for young and old, including pumpkin painting, live music, a wine tasting room, corn maze, and adventure barn. Best of all, you can roam the orchard and pick your own apples to take home. 

Fall calls for specific flavors, even when it comes to beer. You can find a hearty variety of craft and mainstream beer here, along with seasonal variations that make every sip taste like fall. It also helps that their food is as delicious as their bar offerings. 

The Quarry Point in this beautiful park overlooks the New York City skyline, but birdwatchers will be more focused on spotting hawks than anything else. The fall is one of the best times to visit this area when hawks are migrating. The park also features several trails for walking, jogging, and hiking. 

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While you’re watching for hawks at nearby Mills Reservation, climbers will want to take advantage of the bouldering opportunities at Eagle Rock Reservation. Though rope climbing isn’t a hot activity here, there are plenty of boulders to sate your craving for adventure. The park is a picture-perfect place of rustic beauty, and you’ll want to spend the day exploring all it has to offer in the fall.

Trail riding calls for plenty of brain food to help you power through, so stop at Rodio’s Kitchen for comfort eats before you hit the trails. They’ve got all the classics, from eggs and omelets to homemade sausage and pancakes. Service is quick and prices are friendly so expect nothing short of the best.

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Best Places to Fish in the East This Fall A smorgasbord of baitfish is served up to striped bass in the fall as they make their way south along the Atlantic coast from Maine to their wintering waters in the mid-Atlantic.

Hot Spots To Fish: Deservedly, Montauk, NY at the eastern end of Long Island is considered a storied mecca for striped bass fishermen. If you’re not going surf fishing on the beach or fishing from a jetty, Gone Fishing Marina (631-668-3232, can set up a charter trip for you. If it’s booked up, try Star Island Yacht Club (631-668-5052, or Montauk Marine Basin (631-668-5900,

Find the best fishing spots near you:

Down south, talk to the folks at Captain Hogg’s Charter Service (757-876-1590, about fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Overdrawn Charters  (252-202-4623, in Manteo, N.C. can help as well.

Tackle You’ll Need: Stick with 30- to 50-pound braid or monofilament and a 60-pound-test shock leader of fluorocarbon, with saltwater-ready spinning tackle heavy enough to handle 10- to 14-foot rods. Penn, Quantum and Okuma specialize in fairly inexpensive surf-fishing rods, and reels to match. If you have a reel, but no rod yet, the new Black Inshore Rods from Lamiglas are up to the task. The five spinning and five casting models range from a 6-foot, 10-inch light finesse spinning rod to a 7 ½-foot casting rod rated for lures from 3 to 12 ounces in weight.

Quick tip: The most successful anglers are those who spot gulls or other wheeling seabirds feeding on baitfish driven to the top by stripers and who then cast into the melee without dispersing the bass. From a boat, the trick is to approach schools carefully and take advantage of wind or tide to drift to within casting range. The stripers will stay up as long as the baitfish are hemmed against the surface.


Best Lures/Baits: The 4 1/2-inch Acme Kastmater XL spoon, the 1 ½-ounce Odin Popper, and the 5-inch pencil popper from Tsunami are popular artificials up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Other popular options include the 6- or 7-inch Savage Gear Sandeel Swimbait, 9-inch Sassy Shad swimbait and the 6-inch Rapala X-Rap SubWalk.

Find the best bait and tackle shops near you:

For anglers who’d rather soak baits from a boat or in the surf, live or cut bait, such as Atlantic menhaden (peanut bunker), herring, porgies, eels, bloodworms, anchovies and mullet, can flip the switch on chaotic striper blitzes.

Photograph Courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism The classic approach to surf fishing is still a great way to take advantage of the striper run along the Atlantic coast. Fri, 08 Sep 2023 00:00:00 -0500
5 Warm-Weather Fishing Destinations to Escape the Cold When winter drops its icy fingers across the fisheries of the United States, making the water hard in some places or the air just too darn cold in others, many anglers find themselves dreaming of warmer weather. The good news is, you don’t have to wait. If dropping a line through a little hole in the ice isn’t your idea of fun, head south! There are plenty of places where you can enjoy both tight lines and warm weather, all winter long. Here are a handful of warm-weather fishing destinations where you can go to escape the cold.

Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, is the self-proclaimed “Sportfishing Capital of the World”—and you know, it just may be. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Florida Bay on the other, Islamorada is exceptionally well positioned to offer a tremendous variety of fishing opportunities, including inshore, offshore, reef fishing, and flats fishing. So, whether you’re targeting tarpon, trolling for tuna, or stalking snook, you’ll find a fishery in close proximity to the island. 

The Hadley House Resort, located right on Islamorada, is one of the best lodging values on the key. Hit Florida Bay for some “backcountry” fishing (inshore and flats) with Pirate for Hire Charters, or head offshore on one of Dirty Boat Charters’ trips.

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Venice, Louisiana, is another U.S. fishing Mecca with its own title—alternately known as the Redfish or Fishing “Capital of the World”—that derives from its unique location, which places it at the center of a variety of fisheries: Inshore, offshore, bottom fishing, and even freshwater bass fishing. You could catch a bull redfish and trophy largemouth in the morning and bring home yellowfin tuna steaks for dinner in the afternoon.

Stay at Nicole’s Fishing Bed and Breakfast, which partners with several local houseboats to provide accommodation for visiting anglers. To hunt trophy-size inshore species like bull redfish, tarpon or speckled trout, hook up with Reel Tite Fishing Guide Service. Voodoo Fishing Charters will put you on the offshore species, like yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.

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The Kona Coast of the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) is yet-another destination that draws sport anglers from all over the world. Kailua-Kona’s large charter fleet is testament to the large numbers of marlin, tuna, and mahi mahi that make their home in the warm Hawaiian waters. Shore anglers can get in one some of the Big Island’s massive ulua (giant trevally) action—if you can get a local to tell you where to go.

Camelot Kona Fishing Charters is a skilled and respected charter outfit that has been putting people on fish for more than four decades. The Royal Kona Resort, on the bay in Kailua-Kona, is just minutes from the marina and is a great place to stay and relax after a long day on the water. 

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Largemouth anglers have it tough in the winter time, especially in the more-northern latitudes of the United States. Well, here’s some good news to soothe your winter bassin’ blues: One of the Lone Star State’s best largemouth fisheries is located deep in South Texas, along the Mexican border. On Falcon International Reservoir, more commonly called Falcon Lake, the day time air temperatures during the winter months average in the 70s and 80s. You won’t even need a jacket.

Falcon Lake is an impoundment of the Rio Grande, just southeast of Laredo. The 83,000-acre lake is a renowned largemouth bass and catfish fishery. Five and six-pound bucketmouths are not uncommon. If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, Falcon Lake also supports a decent alligator gar population. The lake does straddle the border, so if you intend to fish in Mexican waters, you will need a Mexico fishing license. If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a boat from Falcon Lake Marina. Lakefront Lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from RV sites to motel rooms and rental cabins.

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St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is another sunny island destination you can reach without a passport. And the flight is definitely worth it! More than 20 IGFA world records have been set by angler’s fishing out of the Virgin Islands, including the women’s all-tackle record for blue marlin, which was set by a 1,073-pound monster billfish. The islands’ location on the edge of the Puerto Rico Trench and in close proximity to the Gulf Stream make the USVI the perfect launching point for hunting big pelagic species, ranging from massive marlin to trophy tuna.

Consider Point Pleasant Resort, not far from Red Hook, for lodging. Double Header Sportfishing will get you out to the fish.

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Photograph Courtesy of Dirty Boat Charters Tue, 22 Feb 2022 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Ski and Snowboard Stores in New Jersey With so many great places to hit the slopes in the Tri-State area, New Jersey is centrally located to a lot of awesome skiing and snowboarding. But you need to have the right gear before you go, and these are some of our favorite places to get your ski or snowboard gear in the Garden State. 

Ski Barn has been serving New Jersey skiers—and more recently board riders—for almost half a century. With four Garden State locations (Paramus, Wayne, Lawrenceville, and Shrewsbury) and a huge selection of boards, accessories, and apparel, you’re sure to find everything you need to hit the slopes, including seasonal rentals, at Ski Barn.

Snow hounds in the Garden State have been hitting up Alpine Ski & Snowboard for more than 40 years. Not only can they outfit you with any of your skiing, snowboarding, or winter apparel needs, they also offer tune-ups, repairs, boot fitting, and even discounts on lift tickets.

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Danzeisen & Quigley is a local, South Jersey business that provides top-notch service. They’ve been able to grow, with the support of a loyal customer base, because of their excellent product selection and unmatched customer service. You’ll find just about any snow sport advice or gear that you may need at Danzeisen & Quigley.

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Whether your home slope is in Jersey or Vermont, you can get whatever you need to ride it right at the Sport Spot—Shrewsbury’s premier ski and board shop. In business since 1970, the Sport Spot can set you up with all the top ski, snowboard, and apparel brands.

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When it comes to snowboarding gear, including boots, bindings, and apparel, you can’t do much better in New Jersey than Out of Bounds. Widely known for their knowledgeable and experienced staff, this rider-driven shop ought to have whatever you need to get out and shred.

Skiers hitting the slopes at Mountain Creek can hit up McAfee Ski & Snowboard for all their ski and snowboard gear. Located just south of the resort, McAfee has been outfitting skiers for half a century. They also offer repairs, tuning, and seasonal equipment rentals.

Find both ski and snowboarding gear at Mount Everest in Westwood, New Jersey. Available brands range from Burton and K2 to Quiksilver and Salomon. For the store's latest news and information, be sure to also keep up with their blog! 

Snow enthusiasts in Lake Hopatcong know that the place to go for snow sports equipment—whether skiing or snowboarding—is Colorado Ski & Snowboard. In additional to selling top brands like Burton, Salomon, and Rossignol, they also offer rentals.

Dover Sport Center carries all the winter gear you’ll need to get out onto the slopes and trails in the Tri-State Area. Whether you’re a downhill skier, a Nordic enthusiast, or like both your feet strapped securely to a board, you’ll find all the gear and advice you’ll need to enjoy the Garden State’s snow at Dover Sport Center.

High Country Ski & Tennis has been a Livingston fixture for more than a quarter century. Their experts can help set you up and fit you with top-quality skis and snowboards. Even better, if you’re not ready to commit to a purchase—or you just prefer new gear every year—High Country’s rental programs can hook you up. 

Preseason tune ups

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10 Best Ski Destinations for Families in and Around New Jersey In New Jersey, you don’t have to travel far for great skiing opportunities. Whether you’re looking to explore smaller ski areas within the state or you venture into New York State for some bigger adventures, there’s something nearby for the whole family to enjoy. To satisfy all skill levels, check out these 10 ski destinations for families in and around New Jersey.  

Mountain Creek Resort is New Jersey’s only true ski resort. Fine lodging, dining, and a spa complement the skis runs, which are spread over four mountains and served by eight lifts, and 100 percent snowmaking coverage. Night skiing and three dedicated terrain parks expand the possibilities for fun.

Campgaw Ski Area is a great place for families to spend a day (or evening) skiing. More than a dozen trails of all difficulty levels are serviced by two lifts and three Magic Carpets. A tubing area, complete with a conveyor lift so you don’t have to schlep the tubes yourselves, adds to the attraction.

Shawnee Mountain, in the Poconos, has runs for every member of the family, no matter what their skill level. Twenty-three slopes and trails take advantage of Shawnee Mountain’s 700 vertical feet. Two terrain parks and a snow tubing park keep things exciting.

Hunter Mountain boasts not only 1,600 feet of drop over 320 skiable acres, it also offers families plenty of lodging, dining, and shopping options. Skiers and board riders will appreciate the 67 trails—divided evenly among beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, with about 10 percent labeled as “expert”—and the 12 lifts that service them.

The 285 skiable acres at Windham Mountain Resort are enhanced by multiple lodging, dining, and shopping options, as well as a spa. Its 54 trails and six terrain are spread across the shoulders and peaks of two mountains. Twelve lifts services the resort’s 1,600 vertical feet.

With almost 1,100 feet, Blue Mountain Resort boasts more vertical than any other ski area in Pennsylvania, which means longer runs over the resort’s exciting terrain. Sixteen lifts service the 39 trails spread over more than 164 mountain acres. Plenty of dining and lodging is available for families who want to make a weekend of it. 

Mount Peter Ski Area is a laid-back, family-friendly set of slopes that’s been serving the New York Metro and northern New Jersey since 1936, making it New York’s oldest ski area. A family will have hours of fun on Mount Peter’s 14 trails and its terrain park. Two lodges with dining, rentals, a tuning shop, and lessons make the area a great place to spend a day.

Named for the two mountains the ski area occupies, Jack Frost Big Boulder boasts 28 trails, seven terrain parks, as well as tubing areas, all served by 22 lifts. The longer runs are on Jack Frost Mountain, which boasts 600 feet of vertical (in contrast to the 475 feet on Big Boulder Mountain).

Lodging, dining, and an indoor water park make Camelback Mountain Resort an awesome weekend getaway for familied in the Garden State. Oh—there’s also skiing, snowboarding, and the biggest tubing park in the country! Thirty-seven trails are spread across 162 acres and 800 vertical feet.

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More than 25 trails and two terrain parks are spread across 180 acres, and serviced by 95 percent snowmaking. Six chairlifts and a surface tow get folks up the resort’s slops, while 1,000 feet of vertical drop helps to get them down. Elk Mountain has slopes for all skiing abilities, so your family is sure to find fun in this winter wonderland.

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Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Delaware Water Gap National Park The Delaware Water Gap has long been a summer destination for New Jersey travelers, but the locale shouldn’t be overlooked for winter weekend fun. Many areas of the park are open year-round 24 hours a day for camping, sightseeing, and hiking (although winter weather can create road closures, so check before you go). If you’re planning a weekend escape to the park, here’s how you can make the most of it. 

Some of the park’s campgrounds are open year-round. If you plan on hiking for two or more days, you can take advantage of backcountry campsites, although make note they don’t allow any ground fires at these sites. Your best bet is to grab a spot at the Mohican Outdoor Center, where they have cabins, walk-in primitive campsites, woodland backdrops, and a beautiful glacial lake.

Hiking is a major draw to the park, but winter makes the trail system here especially unique. With bare trees and no leaves to block your view, you get beautiful vistas of the park that just aren’t possible in the warmer months. The Appalachian Trail lies at the south end of the park and spans for 28 miles total—if that’s too much, there are dozens of other (much shorter) trails to explore.

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The Blue Mountain Lake trail is perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, especially right after a fresh snowfall. Significant snowfalls will close the gates at the Blue Mountain Lakes parking lot, giving skiers a safe place to play. 

Ricks Rock on the NJ side of the park is one of the best spots for top rope climbing. If you want to live a little dangerous, head to Buttermilk Falls and try your hand at ice climbing. Just remember that any sort of climbing can be dangerous, regardless of experience, so take all proper precautions before you begin your ascent. 

Whitetail deer are abundant in the park, and with the proper license and equipment, you can hunt for them on your weekend getaway. Check with the Fish and Wildlife Department for season information and requirements to hunt within the park.  

Consider this rustic country restaurant an extension of the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. Surrounded by sweeping natural views and middle-of-nowhere peace and quiet, no trip to the area is complete without stopping here. You can get a fresh, home-cooked meal, cocktails, and photo-worthy desserts.

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Grabbing a frosty brew when it’s freezing outside might be the furthest thing from your mind, but you won’t want to pass up a chance to experience this cozy brewery. Their elevated gastropub menu pairs well with their collection of craft beer. Over a dozen varieties make it hard to choose just one, so grab a flight and find your new favorite.

If you need a break from the outdoors on your weekend trip, immerse yourself in local lore and history at the museum. Focused on the town’s evolution since its founding, you can experience the town as it was way back and see how it transformed into the community it is today. They’re also known for having intriguing, creative exhibits on a temporary basis, including a recent collection from the original “Friday the 13th” movie series.

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This natural wolf preserve is an outdoor lover’s dream come true. You can take an educational tour that takes you through the preserve and closer to the animals than you may have thought possible. They also offer opportunities for serious photographers that want to get winning shots of their wolf population. 

This charming local winery lets you taste all their amazing wines for a small fee, plus you can get a wine glass to mark the occasion. The tasting room is open daily so you can come almost anytime to try your favorites. Live music, yoga, and other events have been known to dot their calendar, so you can plan ahead and make the most of the experience. 

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A beginner’s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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5 Impressive ATV Destinations in the Northeast Framed by the Appalachian Mountains and large swaths of hardwood and boreal forests, the Northeast has excellent options for the off-roading enthusiast. Test yourself on tricky obstacle courses. Trudge your way through mud bogs. These challenging and beautiful ATV destinations are some of the most impressive in the Northeast. Here are our favorites. 

Located just outside the village of Berlin, Jericho Mountain State Park is one of the newest additions to the New Hampshire State Park system. The park boasts dozens of miles of trails across beautiful terrain that includes forest, mountains, lakes, and streams. The trails within Jericho Mountain State Park also connect with other local trail networks, such as the Success City Trail, so that riders have near-unlimited room in which to ride and days-worth of exploring to do. Ride-in, ride-out camping is available in the park, near the visitor’s center at Jericho Lake. Every August, the park hosts the annual Jericho ATV Festival, which consists of food, music, and lots and lots of mud. Be sure to check state laws and park rules for licensure, age, and safety gear requirements.

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Tall Pines ATV Park is located in western New York, near the Pennsylvania border. With more than 70 miles of groomed and forested trails—as well as mud bogs and an obstacle course—Tall Pines has something to offer riders of all experience levels. Accommodations, in the form of rental cabins, are located on the Tall Pines premises. The Hann Homestead Inn, just minutes from Tall Pines, offers a lodging alternative.

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Located in western Maine, near the state’s borders with Canada and New Hampshire, “The Forks” is the area surrounding the confluence of the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. Several ATV clubs in the Upper Kennebec Valley joined forces and created an extensive network of trails—stretching all the way to the Canadian border—through this ruggedly beautiful region of the state. Maps of local trails are available from the Forks Chamber of Commerce or online. The trail network is expanded regularly, so be sure to get the most up-to-date maps before setting out. If you need accommodations in the area, Northern Outdoors Adventure Resort is connected to the trail system. Offering lodging, a pub, and ATV rentals, Northern Outdoors makes an excellent basecamp for exploring the hundreds of miles of trails in The Forks area.

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Some of the Northeast’s most impressive ATV trails can be found in the Allegheny National Forest of western Pennsylvania. The trail system contains more than 80 miles of riding room through a forested mountain landscape. Even the most advanced riders will be challenged by the rugged terrain on the 23-mile Penoke Trail loop. Novices can enjoy all that the forest has to offer on the 39-mile, out-and-back Timberline Trail or challenge themselves on the more rugged Marienville Trail loop. Camping is available at several places within the forest and near the ATV trails. Locate a campground and make a reservation at or check the Forest Service website for dispersed camping opportunities. The Forest Lodge and Campground is located within the Allegheny National Forest and offers direct access to the ATV trail system.

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Beartown State Forest is a 12,000-acre expanse of hardwoods located in extreme southwestern Massachusetts. ATV riders can access dozens of miles of multi-use trails and unpaved roads across the area’s low-slung mountains and through the gorgeous wooded landscape. Several lakes, including pristine Benedict Pond are located within the forest’s boundaries. Camping is available inside the state forest, or there are several lodging options, like the Monument Mountain Motel in nearby Barrington.

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Photograph Courtesy of NH State Parks Mon, 29 Jul 2019 12:04:11 -0500