Being a life long resident of the area since 1964, I've certainly seen things change over time. One thing that hasn't changed is Brick Township's commitment to preserving open space and providing access to some really interesting places to interact with the environment. Whether you're a fisherman, bird watcher, like to take long walks through woods, Brick has it all. I think a good place to start is in the center of town.
1. Forge Pond
Forge Pond is a great, open water body where the freshwater Metedeconk River meets the tidal, saltwater of the Metedeconk River associated with Barnegat Bay. It is located at the center of town, near the old Laurelton Circle and just north of the former FoodTown site (now demolished).
It's easily accessed by two entries off of the west bound side of Route 70. These access points are not well defined and entry is relatively narrow, but with care and good driving practices they are easily accessible. The first access point leads you to an open area that overlooks the pond. Great views are provided here along with excellent freshwater fishing opportunities. Please take note that all areas upstream of the Route 70 overpass require a freshwater fishing license.
The second access point is just past the overpass of the culvert, or bridge. It's a sharp right-hand turn, so be cautious on your approach. Follow the dirt trail and you will end up in an area where there is a very small boat access area. In this area you may launch canoes, kayaks or some small car-topper boats. This provides you with access to the whole pond. Paddle upstream and you will come across the meandering headwaters of the Metedeconk River. Here it is tranquil and very scenic. Birds are abounded and fishing is excellent.
Located on the south side of Princeton Avenue, Windward Beach provides a wide range of public access to take advantage of; including literally anything you want to do. This is a popular site in the summer as it hosts many recreational activities with the band shell and is the location of fireworks displays.
But there are other hidden values to this park. There is plenty of parking, two toddler playgrounds, a beach and fishing pier. What a place to make a Sunday afternoon picnic and use all of the facilities. I may add that there are very nice bathroom facilities there for your convenience.
I, personally, enjoy the fishing pier. It juts out into the river/bay approximately 150 feet, providing a lot of access to fish and crab. By the way, this location is one of the best crabbing hot spots in town during the summer months. Here you can catch summer flounder, white perch and eels. Sandworms and killie fish are your best baits.
Haven's Homestead Museum
For those who prefer an interactive historic and farming culture, this is the place to be. I could write about this spot all day, but I will say one thing: The Brick Township Historical Society is very well organized and has maximized the interaction between this historical site and the general public. They have many things going on here all the time. It's located off Herbertsville Road in the northwest section of town.
Here you can visit the farm, see the vintage building and participate in the many interactive programs. The best that I can do is steer you to the Brick Township's Historical Society website which will keep you apprised of the many activities located here.
Adamston Open Spaces -- Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
As you travel toward the Brick ocean beaches along Mantoloking Road, the open space is at the intersection of Adamston Road and Mantoloking Road. There is a traffic light at this intersection, and right after the traffic light there is ample parking in the form of a groomed parking lot. A picturesque walking trail begins at this location and heads in an easterly manner toward Barnegat Bay. The trail is well taken care of, wide and you don't have to worry too much about ticks. There are environmental signs, sitting places and the trail goes through uplands and wetlands. In the summer, definitely bring the bug repellent. The trail is well suited for mountain bikes, as well, should you want to make the trek to the bay in a quicker manner. The overall trail is approximately one mile to the bay.
Ocean County and the State of New Jersey did a wonderful job in planning the reconstruction of the Mantoloking Bridge. There is the new bridge with a higher span that provides for less bridge openings and improved traffic flow, but they likewise did an excellent job in allowing a portion of the old bridge to remain.
Limited free parking is available on the north side of Mantoloking Road approximately a few hundreds of yards west from the bridge. Once you make your way to the bridge there is plenty of bulkheaded access providing for an excellent opportunity to crab. The open space continues under the bridge and a walkway leads to the remaining portion of the old bridge. This provides for safe access to a lot of waterfront. Fishing is also great at this location with winter flounder, summer flounder, weakfish, stripped bass and eels. This is one of the best locations to catch snapper blues when they begin to show up in mid-July. If you plan on making a trip to this location, be aware. It is a very popular spot in the summer months, parking is limited and getting your space on along the bulkhead is "first come, first served." I pass this location daily in the summer and it looks like many happy families set up to enjoy this location for hours at a time with coolers and small bar-b-q grills.
Brick Bay Beach & Gazebo
This open space park is located opposite Brick Beach III and on the bay, off Route 35 South. Plenty of parking is available, but there may be a fee depending on where you park. Brick Beach III is a short walk away across Route 35, and you have bathroom facilities with a full service snack bar on site.
At the bay park there is a long bulkhead with a lot of room to set up your crab traps during the summer months. Fishing is also good at this locations with summer flounder, eels and snapper blues beginning in mid-July. A small toddler playground is provided. The other nice thing about this park is the location of many benches where you can sit and enjoy the magnificent sunsets. The gazebo is well maintained and provides for an excellent photo opportunity for weddings or family portraits.
Editor's Note: John Zingis is the Principal Environmental Scientist with Air Land & Sea Environmental Management Services in Point Pleasant. He is a Brick resident.