GTGL Snippets: Fall Foliage Hiking in Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve, New Jersey

And then it's fall! 🍁🍂🍁🍂

 Our first family hiking shenanigan in the Plainboro Preserve, Fall 2015.

Our first family hiking shenanigan in the Plainboro Preserve, Fall 2015.

A post shared by Carol Bustos (@fcbsantiago) on

My first visit to New Jersey Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve was in October 2012, when I volunteered to chaperone my then-second-grade daughter's class field trip. I didn't even know the place existed until I got the field trip letter.

It was only our second year on the east coast then; and I had been so fixated at finally getting to experience New York City, which I lusted over for years through countless features on TV/movie screens and magazines, that the nearby, more accessible New Jersey attractions took a backseat. One can only do so much gallivanting when you have a family, a full-time job and two school kids involved in plenty of extra-curricular activities. 

I don't get to chaperone at field trips as much as I want to. Work simply doesn't always indulge me the luxury of time. I love going to my children's field trips because (1) that's free travel and (2) it gives me and my children the opportunity to discover new things together. 

I'm so happy I got to join this one as I totally enjoyed the experience. I wasn't into hiking then, and I credit this trip - and the beautiful fall foliage - for sparking an interest. Despite that spark, though, it wasn't until a year after we moved into the Plainsboro Preserve's vicinity (and three years after the said field trip) that my family and I paid it another visit, or went on any family hiking trip for that matter. 

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We moved into our current neighborhood in the summer of 2014. But we somehow didn't set off to hike the Plainsboro Preserve until the fall of the following year.

I spoke of the foliage excessively to my husband and son after my daughter's field trip that it only made sense for us four to go for a hike together when the season's hues are ablaze. 

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Seeing as we are hiking newbies, my husband and I read up on the dos and don'ts, and decided on taking the easiest and shortest trail for our excursion. We quickly found ourselves diverting from sticking to one trail, even going off track to find hidden spots in the Preserve. These spots, like the one in the slide below, are perfect for a quick rest and some quiet time away from other hikers. 

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What do we have here?

 Here's that thing that caught my family's attention!

Here's that thing that caught my family's attention!

We also quickly found that we underestimated ourselves. We are far more capable of conquering a more difficult trail than the easiest/shortest one that we had chosen for the day. 

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The trails were actually pretty easy for my hyperactive, high-endurance family. I even thought they were something that Jesús could easily conquer, that I recommended them to him and Bianca when they came to New Jersey last year. 

I would like to point out that the trails in the Plainsboro Preserve are not officially marked as disabled accessible. I somewhat know of Jesús' capabilities as he has been hiking before and after the strokeIf you have a disability and want to hike the Preserve, please don't take this as a guarantee of its safety and go at your own risk. ✌ 

Some of the trails intertwined, and we ended up making up our own route, covering all of the trails without veering off the marked paths and stopping frequently (obvs!) for pictures. 

Since this 2015 trip, I think I've only been back to the Plainsboro Preserve once, when my husband and I went on a quick hike one Saturday morning in the fall last year. It's not because we didn't pursue hiking as a family activity - it has actually become one of our favorite, low-key and low-cost things to do in the fall. It's just that we've gone out to explore other spots in New Jersey. 😊

New Jersey Audubon is a not-for-profit organization that fosters environmental awareness. It has a number of centers all over the state, which all aim to protect animals and plants, especially those that are endangered, and preserve their natural habitats. We're so lucky to have one of its centers in our neighborhood where we can get our hiking fix whenever we want!

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Carol is one of the founders of get there | get lost.  She is a New Jersey-based digital marketing executive, and a digital nomad wannabe. She writes mostly about getaways with her family, and is a strong advocate of the “experience over things” mantra. Follow her everyday adventures @fcbsantiago.

Born and raised in Manila, Philippines and briefly lived in California before moving to the east coast of the USA. I'm a digital marketing executive currently based in New Jersey and a digital nomad wannabe. I write mostly about family travel.