Running in Vineland, New Jersey – Parvin State Park

This weekend, some friends of ours got married. We spent the weekend in Vineland, New Jersey.

The wedding was Saturday afternoon. We came down Friday night, and we found time throughout the weekend to see some friends and eat some good food.

And naturally, I had to find a good place to run.

Where We Stayed in Vineland

There are a handful of hotels in Vineland to choose from. They’re all more or less in the same area – on West Landis Ave between downtown and Route 55.

Normally, I’d stay at a Marriott property. I’m a big fan of Marriott, and I have several Marriott rewards credit cards. There’s a Fairfield Inn and Suites a little further south, on the border of Vineland and Milleville. However, it happened to be Memorial Day Weekend, and it was around $400/night … and I was not going to spend $400/night to stay in Vineland. Sorry.

I looked around and found some availability at the Quality Inn in Vineland. By the time we got there, they were sold out for the weekend. People were in town for the racetrack (NJ Motorsports Park).

It was a perfectly passable hotel. Nothing to write home about, but it was a clean place to sleep. The staff was nice, and there was a basic continental breakfast out in the morning – coffee, bagels, muffins, yogurt, and some cereal. Definitely a notch below the Fairfield Inn in terms of quality, but I wasn’t expecting much.

Where We Ate in Vineland

My wife used to live in Millville when we first met, and we don’t back down there often, so this was a good opportunity to revisit some of our old favorite restaurants.

Friday night, we stopped at Olympia Restaurant – a nice little Greek restaurant around the corner from the hotel. I didn’t take any pictures, but the saganaki was great. I love fried cheese. I’m a fan of lamb, and I went with the lamb parnassos. Some baklava for dessert finished things off. And the place is BYOB, so we were able to bring our favorite bottle of white wine.

Sunday morning, we went to Larry’s II for brunch. It’s a great cafe and breakfast spot that’s been in town for a long time. Again, wish I had taken pictures, but we scarfed down the food too quickly. They have a great selection of crepes – I enjoyed one with blueberries. For breakfast, I had a spicy scallion, potato and cheese omelette. The little spice from the sriracha was great. After the long run I had Sunday morning – I definitely needed a hearty breakfast.

Where I Ran in Vineland

Where I live in West Orange, there are no flat or straight roads. Vineland is almost nothing but flat and straight roads. So really, you could pick a direction and run.

Saturday morning, I only had six miles planned. I was going to go up Delsea Drive a little bit and hang a left on Almond Road. That would take me a few miles west through a park, where I could loop back on Landis. However, I missed the turn and just kept going up Delsea until I turned around. Not terribly scenic – but a good highway run.

Sunday morning, though, I planned to run through Parvin State Park. This is a little gem tucked away across the border in Salem County. There are a few trails in the park. I planned on taking the green trail, which looped around the lake. The blue trail is paved, and it loops through the southern part of the park. Both would be great if you just wanted to drive to the park to run a couple miles.

It’s only about five miles west of where we were staying in Vineland. So the plan was to run down Almond Road – the one I missed on Saturday – which would take me straight to the park, loop around the lake, and then come back. Fourteen miles.

Running Through Parvin State Park

Things started off great. I made the turn onto Almond Road and five miles later, I was at the entrance to Parvin State Park. At the corner of Almond and Parvin Mills, I turned left. Almost immediately, there was a small parking area on the lefthand side and access to the trails on the righthand side.

I joined the trail, traveling counter clockwise around the lake. My plan was to loop around the lake once – around 3 miles. I had looked at the map that morning, and I thought I knew what I was doing. The trail was a sandy dirt path, with a dense forest on each side. It passes by the main entrance to the park – situated along Almond Road – and there’s a clean bathroom there if you need to use one.

I did not, however, remember that I was running on the green trail. My recollection of the map was that I wanted to keep going until the trail looped south and then back east. I got to an intersection – with the green trail going south and the red trail continuing straight. I kept going straight. Oops.

The red trail is much more secluded. The vegetation is grown in and the ground is damp. Thankfully, there were a lot of logs and bridges to keep you out of the water. I imagine it might be a nightmare after a heavy rain – but it wasn’t bad this weekend. I was wearing my road shoes, and I would have preferred my trail shoes on this trail. Eventually, the trail turned south and then back east.

I knew I was generally going in the right direction, but I got a little turned around. I eventually hit the blue trail, and I took that east out to the main road. I knew I was a little further south on Parvin Mills Road, so in my head I thought if I ran south I’d save a little distance and be able to head home on Landis.

That didn’t quite work out. I realized when I got home and looked at the map that actually added a little distance by making these choice. Thankfully, I was able to use the navigation feature of my Garmin Forerunner to get back home. I used the return to start option and set it to a straight line, and it pointed me in the right direction.

By the time I made it back to the hotel, I’d run 16.5 miles – instead of the planned 14. Oops. Glad I brought along some water and a couple gels.

I would happily go back and spend some more time exploring Parvin State Park. It was a great place to run.

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