In 2015, I hiked 45 new trails in South Jersey! Why not take a look back at the highlights of an awesome year?
#10 – Woodbury Creek Trail – Woodbury, NJ – This is a short hike (3/4 of a mile) that The Pres, Tree Rider, and I did by accident one sunny July morning. We showed up to check out the bridge over Woodbury Creek, but spotted what I thought was a footpath to a fishing spot. It ended up being a trail through the woods that passed through marshland, meandered past some very old trees, and even passed a shed dressed up in a Mail Pouch Tobacco ad.
Part of the awesomeness of this hike was the surprise of it all, part of it was the loveliness that is Woodbury Creek.
#9 – Cold Spring Nature Preserve – Evesham, NJ – This brand new trail opened up in Evesham, adjacent to Black Run Preserve. Walking the whole trail, plus the roadwalk back, comes to about 2 miles. Highlights include classic pine barrens scenery, remains of an old house, a nice swamp, lots of little bridges, a great view of an old cranberry bog, and, best of all, a connector trail to Black Run Preserve so that you can take a really long hike between the two!
#8 – Crow’s Woods – Haddonfield, NJ – This trail winds its way up and down some small hills, eventually reaching a tributary of the Cooper River. Along the way, you’ll cross some nice bridges, and make sure to keep your eyes open for the beaver that are active in the area! Liked it so much, we had our first Daddy-Kid hike here in May!
#7 – Cedar Swamp Trail – Ocean View, NJ – Did this hike mostly because we were driving right past it on our way to Ocean City… ended up with a beautiful 1.2 mile hike through some meadows, some woods, and some maple swamps (sorry, no cedars!). The highlight is a small family graveyard next to a gnarled old tree.
#6- Atsion Lake Trails – Shamong, NJ – This mile long figure 8 trail starts next to the swimming area at Atsion Lake. The parts of the trail away from the lake are filled with pine trees, some swampier areas, and (if you hike in early summer like we did) plenty of blueberries! The stretch along the lake offers beautiful views of the lake during any season of the year. So much reward for only a mile of trail! Afterwards, you can always go swimming at the lake or use the picnic area! Note: Entrance fee per car in season.
#5 – Mullica River Trail – Shamong, NJ – Last June, I finally got to backpack this nice trail (just under 10 miles) that runs from Atsion to Batsto. This was extra good because it was the first time that The Pres went backpacking! Our old roommate Skunk also came out for his first backpacking trip. The trail walks past some of the highlights at Atsion (the mansion and the church), wanders through the recent burned out area near Atsion, travels past a nice little pond and along the Mullica River, and winds up at Mullica River Camp. After spending the night, it was a nice stroll the last 4 miles down to Batsto. Perfect way to have your first backpacking trip, also a nice long day hike.
#4 – Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge – Galloway Township, NJ – 12 miles of trails and roadwalks. World class birding. Convenient location next to Atlantic City. Put them all together and you get Forsythe NWR. We spent a beautiful 6 hours here the day after Thanksgiving, which was one of the best family days we had all year! If you’ve never made it out here, you really need to!
#3 – Ceres Park – Mantua, NJ – The highlights of this unblazed (but mapped! Print a map ahead of time!) are Cedar Lake and Emerald Lake. On the warm July morning that we hiked this trail, we spotted tons of turtles and frogs along our 1.6 mile hike (definitely plenty more trails back there to take a longer hike). There were a number of blowdowns after that late June microburst storm, but this made the day more fun, as The Pres had a blast on this obstacle course. You’re right by Route 55, but this felt like a nice little slice of wilderness, and I loved the unfinished quality of the park and trail system.
#2 – Swamp Trail – Estell Manor County Park – Estell Manor, NJ – This two mile hike at Estell Manor County Park (can greatly expand it with 14 more miles of trails in the park!) is something special. You’ll hike along a boardwalk most of the way, which allows beautiful views of South River, a glimpse at the swamps that surround the trail, and a treasure hunt of sorts to find the remains of the World War I munitions factory complex that are scattered throughout the park. One of the coolest spots in South Jersey, well worth a day of exploring!
#1 – Mount Misery Trail – Brendan Bryne State Forest – New Lisbon, NJ – My favorite trail this year was the Mount Misery Trail out at
Lebanon State Forest Brendan Byrne State Forest. This 8 1/2 mile trail (a hair under 10 miles to complete the loop back to your car) covers a broad range of pine barrens terrain, from cedar swamps to swatches of pitch pine to old bogland to the lovely Pakim Pond. If you hike the trail counter clockwise, you’ll save the best for last – wide open bogs that you’ll walk right down the middle of. You then complete the loop by walking down the Cranberry Trail. A most excellent way to spend 2 to 4 hours!
Hopefully this gives you some great ideas to start your 2016 hiking plans! While I doubt I’ll be able to find 45 new trails in South Jersey to hike this year, I’m going to have a good time trying!