Hillsborough outdoor enthusiasts will have a new event to take part in come early September.
The Sourland Spectacular Bike & Hike is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, complete with morning rides and guided hikes. A gourmet lunch and other offerings will follow the activities.
Proceeds will benefit the Sourland Planning Council, a non-profit organization working to protect the ecological integrity, historical resources, and special character of the Sourland Mountain region.
The bicycling event will offer challenging road routes for serious cyclists, as well as shorter alternatives for more casual bikers. Routes of 37, 50 and 63 miles are planned, all of which include some climbing to reach the beautiful Sourland Mountain ridge.
All routes will begin and end at the Somerset County Sourland Mountain Preserve on East Mountain Road in Hillsborough Township.
“The bike routes traverse the large Sourland forest and adjacent picturesque farmland”, said SPC President Cliff Wilson. “They were carefully planned to include moderate climbs followed by exhilarating downhill stretches through open vistas.”
There will be coffee and snacks at registration, starting at 7 a.m. Designated rest stops along the biking routes will offer beverages, snacks and bathroom facilities. SAG services will also be provided.
Hikers also will meet at the preserve for this first, ever hiker’s rally event. Naturalists will be on hand to guide hikes of varying lengths, times and difficulty levels from the parking area on the half-hour starting at 8 a.m. Hike offerings will include birding, photography, geocaching, geology, botany, history and plain healthy camaraderie and fun.
“Families with diverse interests can go their own ways to cycle or hike. After burning all those carbs they can hook up again to share their stories over a fabulous lunch,” said Sourland Planning Director Tamara Garaffa, who is a trained naturalist.
Of the food participants can expect is crispy thin-crust pizza prepared on-site in the portable wood-burning oven of Nomad Pizza. Dessert will be a homemade brownie sundae featuring premium ice cream and the Sourland Spectacular gourmet chocolate sauce.
Participants who register in advance are guaranteed commemorative T-shirts.
The 90-square-mile Sourland region is home to the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey. The sparsely populated area is home to an incredibly rich diversity of animal and plant species, many rare or endangered.
The registration fee is $35 per person, with $5 discount available for early online registration. The fee for children between the ages 7 to 17 is $20. There is no charge for children under 7. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The event will be held rain or shine, so participants are asked to dress appropriately for weather and bring a reusable water bottle.
More details and registration information can be found at www.Sourland.org/spectacular.