An interview with Sophie Glovier author of Walk the Trails in and around Princeton
Why did you think there was a need for a trail guide to our area?
When I moved to Princeton and got involved with D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends of Princeton Open Space, I realized that there was a lot of preserved land in town, but much of it was hidden from view and not well known. For example, many people don’t realize that we have two areas of more than 270 acres each within easy walking distance of town (The Mountain Lakes Open Space Area and the Institute Woods). As I started to walk the trails and get to know them, I would often take friends along. At the end of our walk they often told me that they had loved the trail, but didn’t think they would come back by themselves without getting lost. That’s when I decided to create Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton.
How much open space is there around here?
Just in Princeton we have over 1,000 acres of open space and more than 20 miles of trails. Many people think of hiking as something to do when you travel to far off places, but I love that there are so many places to enjoy nature right here. When you walk in the woods of Woodfield Reservation (124 acres) or Herrontown Woods (141 acres) you can walk miles without seeing a house or hearing a car. Plus, I like to tell people that even though you feel far away, it is hard to get too lost!
Who is this book for?
There is a trail in this book for almost everyone. I have included some short walks like the Scott & Hella McVay Poetry trail in Greenway Meadows, and some walks that are completely on a paved surface like Skillman Park. There are many walks that young parents can easily do with a baby jogger. There are also longer trails for walking or running, like the 4-mile route through Mercer Meadows. In addition, in the book I offer suggestions for trail connections to build a longer walk, and provide some good websites to explore for more trail ideas.
Why is walking in open space so important to you?
There have been many studies documenting the physical and mental health benefits of walking outdoors for people of all fitness levels. I think lots of people would agree that being outside is especially important now that many of us live our lives with so much time looking at our electronic devices. It is also really important to me that people who live here make a connection to our open space. When you walk or run outside you start to notice the plants, birds and animals in a way that you don’t when you drive by in a car. I think it is really important that we preserve open space and take good care of it, and people are more likely to do that if they have a connection with the natural world.
What are some of your favorite places?
I have lots of favorite walks and where I go often depends on the time of year and the weather outside. On a very hot day, I really enjoy the Stony Brook Trail off Rosedale Road that runs along the stream. In the fall, I love to go to Mercer Meadows, to see the big swathes of color that the wild flowers make. On snowy days I like to snowshoe through the Woodfield Reservation to look for the tracks the animals have made. I might decide to go to the St. Michaels Farm Preserve to look for the kestrels that have taken up residence there or to visit Wargo Pond at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association in late spring to look for baby turtles resting on a log.
Who takes care of the trails?
Keeping our trails cleared is a big job and we are lucky to have many volunteers in our area who work hard to do this all year. If you are interested in working on the trails, or in making a contribution to support their maintenance, my website has a list of local nonprofits that do this work. In addition, a portion of the proceeds of this book will be donated for trail maintenance. Sales of Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton have already raised over $10,000 for this purpose