December 2014: Allaire State Park

Farmingdale, New Jersey

James Peter Allaire was born in Nova Scotia in 1785 where his family, loyal to the crown of King George III, fled in exile during the American Revolution. The Allaires returned to New York City in 1806 and the 21-year old James Allaire opened a brass foundry. In 1822 Allaire came to the wilds of New Jersey and bought the 5,000-acre Monmouth Furnace to supply his engine works. The isolation of his new Howell Works caused him to build a self-sufficient village around it. The ironworks thrived until 1850 when Allaire retired. Legendary newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane bought the property as a retreat and maintained much of the old village. His estate deeded 800 acres to the State of New Jersey and the park today covers more than 3,000 acres.  

Thanks to the Manasquan River the trail system is a bit disjointed; to reach all of it you need to drive to various parking lot trailheads on either side of the water. From the parking area at the Allaire Village you can access a 4.5-mile walking trail that tours the historic building and joins up with the stacked loop Red Trail at the Nature Center. The Yellow Trail slips out of the village and explores the Manasquan River floodplain. The canine hiking is easy on these wide, pedestrian-only trails and the pace is relaxed away from the village. Allaire State Park is laced with sand roads and an abandoned railroad have been converted into multi-use trails. Jump on any of these well-marked pathways for hours more of comfortable canine hiking in the northernmost reaches of the Pine Barrens.

The Pine Creek Railroad in the park dates to 1953 and is the oldest continuously operating steam preservation railway in the country. Narrow-gauge trains like this hauled bog iron more to the furnace and moved finished goods out to market.

Monmouth County; from the Garden State Parkway take Exit 98 and follow the well-marked signs to the park. From I-195 use Exit 31B.