Hiking the perimeter of the Garden State

Mike Helbing is on a mission: He's looking to become the first person to hike the perimeter of New Jersey.

Mike Helbing is on a mission: He's looking to become the first person to hike the perimeter of New Jersey.

"It's experiencing life by foot -- at least the way I hike," Helbing said.

It's an effort to bring awareness to some of the state's most organic treasures, and this Warren County resident is doing it in a way you likely wouldn't envision.

In a white T-shirt, ripped sneakers, and jeans, he's covered 1,200 miles. 

He walks through rivers, he climbs mountains, tip-toes through underground tunnels, and even walks along major highways. 

When asked if he's ever done these hikes before, Helbing said he hadn't, and so he doesn't know what he will come across. "That's the excitement of it," he said

Now with just 80 miles to go, Helbing is nearing the end of his journey - and takes us back to where it all started: the Manunka Chunk Tunnels in Warren County, abandoned since the 1970s. 

The tunnels were the first place Helbing hiked in 1997 as part of his perimeter journey.

It has some remarkable history, once serving as part of the Lackawanna Warren Railroad.  

That railroad, built in the 1850s, was used to transport coal from Scranton, Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Only locals in the area know that this area still exists.

Mike leads hikes all the time.  He is the president of the non-profit, MetroTrails, which you can learn more about by going to metrotrails.org.

On that site, you can join in on the fun and take part in upcoming perimeter tours. His last one will be November 2nd, 2015 and will wrap up on the steps of the Statehouse in Trenton.

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