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Run the hills in Monmouth County

Popular hilly runs
Popular hilly runs

There are plenty of places to get in a run in Monmouth County. There are awesome boardwalks and routes along the ocean from Manasquan to Sandy Hook. You would think that at the shore it is mostly flat. But there are several popular routes with some really challenging hills. Here are a few of the most popular.

The hills of the Navesink

Manasquan Reservoir Loop – 5 Miles


Location: 311 Windeler Road, Howell, New Jersey

Description: There is a main building at the park overlooking the reservoir that is open from dusk to dawn. The building has clean bathrooms and a great room with a huge central fireplace to warm up in the winter. The trail goes 5 miles around the reservoir and there are mile markers when going in the clockwise direction (some refer to the clockwise direction as the “boy’s route” and counterclockwise as the “girls route”). Going clockwise which is the most popular it is fairly flat the first 2.5 miles. Then there are few hilly portions and one longer incline around the 4 mile mark. It is a well-protected course from the winter winds and summer sun with plenty of tree cover. You will have some great scenery of the reservoir and wildlife from eagles to plenty of deer scampering around particularly near dawn and dusk. There are no water fountains on the course but there is another building at about the 1.75 mile mark that is open from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that has bathrooms and a cold water fountain. Some people use the route for longer runs doing multiple loops and leaving water at the start of the trail.

Bodman Park to Stone Church Middletown, N.J. - 10.8 miles

Location: 99 Market Street, Middletown, N.J.


The Bodman Park Loop has been a popular venue for the Jersey Shore Running Club’s Sunday Runs for about 20 years or more. Every Sunday there is a group that meets at the park at 8 a.m. in all types of weather to include snow storms and hurricanes for a run through some back roads of the Navesink section of Middletown. The roads have little vehicle traffic and lots of runners. The course goes out to Cooper Road which is mostly a dirt road. It is a undulating course with plenty of hills. The first big hill is referred to as “kick ass hill” at about the 2.5 mile mark. It’s a challenge running up and sure to take your breath away. The course takes you through Huber Woods and to Hearthshorne Woods. At the “Stone Church” about the 5 mile mark is where you return back with lots more hills. There are several variations of the course to include a loop through Hearthshorne Woods that brings the total distance to about 15 miles. There is a water fountain and bathrooms at the Huber Woods visitors center which is open during the day.

Holmdel Park 3.1 miles

Location: 44 Longstreet Rd, Holmdel, N.J.


Meet at the visitor’s center there which has bathrooms and a water fountain. This might be one of the most challenging 5K courses in the entire state believe it or not. It is the site of many cross country races. The course starts out with a long gradual uphill then flattens out for a short distance and takes you to the infamous “bowl” which has lots of hills. From there you run through the woods mostly downhill toward the finish. There is also an off shoot of this course which makes it about 5 miles.

Brielle 10k course

Location: 610 South St, Brielle, New Jersey


The Brielle 10K course is another challenging route. It is the race course run every September as part of Brielle Day. Meet at the Brielle Library which has bathrooms. You start off quickly at about a quarter mile with a very steep hill. From there the hills just seem to keep on coming and they are serious hills. There is a flat section along River Road where you can pick up the pace. You finish going down the first hill for a fast finish. The course is marked with arrows on the ground directing you through the course. Its on residential streets and except for the River Road section not much traffic. Be careful on River Road as the shoulder is not that wide.

Try one of these routes as a change up from running on the flat boardwalks. Running these will make you forget that you are at the Jersey Shore.

Check out upcoming events at the Race Calendar.

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