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Rancocas State Park (South) – Hainsport, NJ
8
The Good

Beautiful views of Rancocas Creek, a few remains of old houses, and lots and lots of trees.

The Could Be Better

Ticks. Grrrr...

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Bottom Line

This gem of a park immediately enters into the Pantheon of my favorite hikes in South Jersey. You must go.

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Rancocas State Park (South End) – Hainsport, Burlington County, NJ

NOTE: To be clear, this is the southern section, between the two branches of Rancocas Creek.
For the north section (where the Rancocas Nature Center and Indian Reservation are), click here.  The two sections, separated by the North Branch of Rancocas Creek, are not connected by any trails.

Distance: 8.2 miles of trails (we did 4 miles)
Type: Interconnected web of trails of various colors
Difficulty: 3 of 10.

Terrain – forest, river, swamp, small hills

Trailheads –  39° 59.546’N,  74° 50.052’W (off intersection of Deacon Rd and Woolman Rd) – Blue trail goes two directions from here.  Five or six parking spots.
You can also enter the park from Rancocas Ave.   39° 59.434’N,  74° 50.257’W.  The Blue Trail comes in from the right as soon as you enter the park, and follows along the road for a while when you first come in.  It also crosses the road at the very end, at the loop.

Road loop. Can park here.

Road loop. Can park here.

Map: Download here or a small version –



 rancocasstateparkmap

Directions: Follow your GPS to Rancocas Ave or plot the intersection of Deacon Rd and Woolman Rd.

Markings – Traditional paint markers on trees.  Arrows mark the connector trails to other marked trails.  Overall, very well marked.

Painted blazes mark the trail.

Painted blazes mark the trail.

Arrows point to trail connectors.

Arrows point to trail connectors.

Really well written history of this part of the park going back almost 400 years: Click here. Any history in this article comes from that really nice write up (it’s the third post) from one of my favorite websites ever.  I was going to try to include it, but it’s written too well to even attempt it.

Description:  Two weekends ago, The Pres and I went out on a beautiful Spring day to explore the other half of Rancocas State Park.  As you may recall, we had a grand old time exploring the northern end of the park last Spring.

On a sunny Saturday, we parked the car at the end of Deacon Road and struck out for Rancocas Creek.  If I were you, I’d head on the Blue Trail, completing a love loop walk around the edge of the park.

We didn’t have a trail map (smart), but we did have a topo map.  The result?  A hodgepodge of trails taking us to the creek.  We took the blue trail from where we parked the car and walked it until we hit Rancocas Ave.  Not realizing that the blue trail continued on the road, we climbed back up the small hill to take the green trail.

Parking at Deacon Road.

Parking at Deacon Road.

Blue Trail. Wow, my camera settings were off.

Blue Trail. Wow, my camera settings were off.

Nice start to the trail.

Nice start to the trail.

Intersection of Blue Trail and Rancocas Ave. We turned and walked back up that hill.

Intersection of Blue Trail and Rancocas Ave. We turned and walked back up that hill.

The Green Trail runs straight down the edge of a ridge, with a pretty good drop off (for South Jersey) to one side.

Green Trail goes right. Drop off goes left.

Green Trail goes right. Drop off goes left.

Eventually the Green Trail runs out, which puts you on the Red Trail headed toward Rancocas Creek.  When you hit Red, you are getting close!  The trail quickly merges with a road, which you can follow down into some wetlands.  Not having a map, we followed it until it came to a “T” intersection with the Blue Trail again.

Red Trail

Red Trail

Into a swamp.

Into a swamp.

Swamps are fun.

Swamps are fun.

 

Checking out our topo map, we headed right on the Blue Trail (rather, I headed.  The Pres was asleep).  We were looking for the remains of some old houses that had been built in this part of the park.  We found some signs of habitation, as well as some nice views of Rancocas Creek.

Just after turning right onto the Blue Trail, you cross a lovely bridge that was part of some kid's Eagle Project. Well done Boy Scouts.

Just after turning right onto the Blue Trail, you cross a lovely bridge that was part of some kid’s Eagle Project. Well done Boy Scouts.

At one bit of marshy land just off of the trail, there are dozens of glass bottles. Some of them look pretty new, others looked the elements have been working on them for a while.

At one bit of marshy land just off of the trail, there are dozens of glass bottles. Some of them look pretty new, others looked the elements have been working on them for a while.

After lots of walking, our old friend Rancocas Creek.

After lots of walking, our old friend Rancocas Creek.

According to our topo map, this was a road.

According to our topo map, this was a road.

Now where are those building remains?

Now where are those building remains?

Maybe some evidence? Or possibly just someone dumping trash.

Maybe some evidence? Or possibly just someone dumping trash.

This isn't anything that was dumped though. Yay!

This isn’t anything that was dumped though. Yay!

We found some other bits as well, including some definitely non-native plants, all located right alongside the trail.  Having exhausted our search on the north side of the park, we use a connector trail to get back to the red trail, then took the Yellow Trail back into the swamps again.  We followed it until it “T”ed with the Blue Trail, a short distance below where it had “T”ed with the Red Trail before.

Split in the trail. Left takes us the way we came on our first bit of walking. Right takes us new places. Right it is!

Split in the trail. Left takes us the way we came on our first bit of walking. Right takes us new places. Right it is!  This follows an old road for a bit…

Then takes a sharp right into the swamps.

Then takes a sharp right into the swamps.

Small gap in a wall. Edge of a property maybe?

Small gap in a wall. Edge of a property maybe?  There are also lots of mounds out here that were made when the area was mined for sand (Source: the great Paul Schopp)

Nice time of the year for trees.

Nice time of the year for trees.

End of the Yellow Trail (for now).

End of the Yellow Trail (for now).

Since we had been North already, we turned left and headed South on the Blue Trail.  Immediately off to the left was a pretty nice swamp.

Nice swamp.

Nice swamp.

To the right was the river.  Within a short period of time, we began to see signs of people having lived here.

Bits of old docks.

Bits of old docks.

An old retaining wall.

An old retaining wall.

Iron spike.

Iron spike.

Two guys in a speedboat.

Two guys in a speedboat.

Nice bit of trail as well.

Nice bit of trail as well.

A vine killing a tree.

A vine killing a tree.

After short walk, the trail takes you pretty much straight up the side of a hill.  At the top are some more remains, including a flight of stairs.

Up, up, up the hill.

Up, up, up the hill.

Bits of masonry.

Bits of masonry.

Staircase.

Staircase.

More pilings.

More pilings.

The trail soon crosses the road, then follows along the swamp on the other side.  Here someone FINALLY woke up and walked on his own.  Three miles with heavy kid on back = good backpacking training.  The trail eventually meanders away from the swamp, and goes up over some tiny hills (sand mining again?) before meeting up with Rancocas Ave.

The Blue Trail soon crosses the road. It picks up on the other side.

The road.

Meandering along swamp. Nice views, but no clear ones for pictures.

Meandering along swamp. Nice views, but no clear ones for pictures.

Look who woke up.

Look who woke up.

The Orange Trail loops off of the Blue Trail here, which you take for an extra 1.6 miles.

The Orange Trail loops off of the Blue Trail here, which you take for an extra 1.6 miles.

Welcome to Rancocas Ave.

Welcome to Rancocas Ave.

Look out for grafittied electric box.

Look out for grafittied electric box.

You’re almost done!  Hang a right, the Blue Trail will follow the road for a little more than a 1/4 mile here.  Right before the road exits the park, you’ll turn left and head up the hill.  This should look familiar… it was in the third picture of the write up, before we knew the Blue Trail looped.  From here, we just followed the Blue Trail all the back to the car.

Blue Trail following the road.

Blue Trail following the road.

Almost back to the car!

Almost back to the car!

Jedi Master The Pres protects these woods from invisible bad guys.

Jedi Master The Pres protects these woods from invisible bad guys.

That was it, our four mile hike for the day!  Overall, there are 8 1/2 miles of trails and connectors in this part of the park.  As I stated before, I recommend the Blue Loop as your best bet for enjoying this stretch of woods.

Alright, that’s not quite it.  There is also this in the park:

IMG_7948

It’s not really a secret that it’s there, or where it is, but I’ll make you hike around and see some woods before you find it.  Muhahaha!

Thanks to Adventures to Anomaly for pointing out that there was a whole half of this great state park that I had missed!

Nearby: This is down the road from Long Bridge Park (also on Deacon Road), near to Creek Island Park/the Mt. Holly Rail Trail, and not far from the Northern part of Rancocas State Park.

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8 Comments
  • June 18, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Fantastic post! I love those woods and im glad to see others enjoying them as well.

  • June 19, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Thanks! This place is great! Thanks for clueing me in on it or I might not have realized that there was a whole other side of the park across Rancocas Creek from the Nature Center.

  • Tomoldguy
    December 20, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Hiked the blue trail today, followed by orange, then the green trail back. 4.9 miles. This is definitely among the best of the South Jersey trails! The blue trail is excellent and well marked. The green trail really gave a different look. I will do this trail again.

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