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440,000

March 18, 2013

With the weather finally turning, many New Jerseyans are planning getaways. Thinking of hiking in the great outdoors this spring or summer? If you are, you might want to stay close to home and enjoy New Jersey's 440,000-acre park system.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has outsourced the reservation system for camping facilities to ReserveAmerica.com, and residents no longer need to call individual camping areas to reserve space.

The state park system includes 500 miles of hiking and riding trails, as well as 10 miles of ocean beach. It has 39 recreation areas with year-round operations, as well as 50 historic sites, battlefields, and villages. Many of the parks offer camping and cabin-rental opportunities in areas with beautiful scenery.

To help with planning a trip to a state park or forest, New Jersey is offering Pocket Ranger, a free smartphone app that provides GPS maps and lists of activities and events.

Pocket Ranger has social networking capabilities and provides an advanced map-caching feature that allows users to continue to navigate even if mobile service is lost. In addition, advanced GPS technology allows hikers to keep track of where they are and how far they've hiked. The same technology enables hunters and anglers to mark favorite hunting spots and fishing holes.

Download the app at StateParkApps.com.

Reservations for campsites can be made by visiting the DEP's ParksAndForests websiteand clicking on the green Reservations tab on the top left of the page. The reservation call center can also be reached at 855-607-3075; starting April 1 it will have weekend hours.

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