Tree Trail – Hopkins Pond – Pennypacker County Park – Haddonfield, Camden County, NJ
Distance: 0.75 miles (official distance is 0.6, I don’t think includes the little connector. Or someone is wrong)
Difficulty: 3 of 10.
Total score: 6 of 10.
Updated: January 7, 2017
Terrain – Wooded area around a small pond
Trailheads – 39° 54.291’N, 75° 1.637’W is the main parking lot. There are three smaller ones off of Hopkins Lane as well, and a connector to Greenwalk Park next door.
Directions: Hopkins Lane, Haddonfield, NJ
Parking – two lots on Hopkins Road, one just off of Grove Street, and one by the dam
Dog friendly? Yes
Stroller friendly? Yes, although big wheels would be a help
Standouts – Birds, lake, historic Birdwood House, can connect for larger hike
Markings – None, but hard to lose, just keep the lake to your right or left, depending which way you are going around. There are a few side trails that hook up to local neighborhoods as well.
As far as trails go, this one is not particularly spectacular – it’s a short, slightly hillier than usual (for South Jersey) path around a small pond. However, the history and the ability to link this to a larger hike definitely makes this even better than it would be. Also, its one of the closest hikes to my house, and the closest with a pond, so we come here at least two or three times a year (hence pictures from different seasons). This review is from my first time there in February 2014, but the pictures are also from our many return visits.
The hike: Someone was antsy after his nap, so we set out to explore this nearby county park. This park is practically within view of our apartment, but had never been there . After a really short drive, we parked in the iced over parking lot. We got out of the car, slid out way across the parking lot, and hit the trail.
The trail follows the bank of the pond, sometimes dropping into slightly wet areas (short bridges cross these areas), sometimes climbing to ten or fifteen feet above the pond.
The pond has been here more than 200 years, since 1789, when the earthen dam (which the road crosses on top of) was built so that the water could power a grist mill by a man name, unsurprisingly, Hopkins.
The park has been popular since long before it was a park, and is reportedly both deeper than you’d think (up to 30 feet) and a great spot for fishing. Haddonfield preserved it in 1916, and the county bought it for a park only 11 years later.
Toward the end of the hike is the Birdwood Farm House. This was built by the original Mr. Hopkins (John) for his son William in 1794. She looks pretty good for her age.
Mr Hopkins (John, but not the same who built the house) used to have some company come to visit, including a fellow by the name of William Foulke. They told stories of giant bones being found in marl pits (marl was used for fertilizer at the time) located on the property some twenty years before. Foulke got permission to go dig in the old marl beds. What he found changed the world – the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found up to that time, which was named Haddrosaurus Foulkii. The race to discover dinosaurs was on. If you want to read more about it and visit the site where the bones were discovered, I have a post all about the Hadrosaurus (which is one of my favorite posts ever).
As if this wasn’t enough distinguishment for one house, this was one was also the home to Mr. Alfred Driscoll, the governor of the great state of New Jersey from 1947 to 1954.
Anyway, you wrap the hike up by crossing the earthen dam, arriving back at the parking lot.
The Watchable Wildlife Trail starts across the street here. The pond below is Driscoll Pond, named for the governor.
Overall recommendation: Nice walk in a historic area that can easily be combined with other nearby trails and places of note, makes a very nice part of a day.
Hopkins Pond Activity Book for Kids – If you want a 74 page packet put together by 4th graders (including a nice map), then this is your link.
Nearby – Hoping for a longer day out? There is a short connector trail that drops down from the dam, passes Driscoll Pond (named after the governor), and meets up with the Watchable Wildlife Trail in Greenwald Park, next door to Pennypacker, as previously covered by this prestigious blog. A connector trail (two miles or so) also leads from the Watchable Wildlife Trail all the way down to Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, and one the other way will put you at The Croft Farm Trails, which you can hike all the way through and arrive at the Borton’s Mills Trails, both Cherry Hill. Five connected parks? I need to hike the whole thing some time and see exactly how much that it is.
Downtown Haddonfield is also beautiful to walk through, and you can visit the
Historic Indian King Tavern while you are there, which is where the New Jersey State Legislature adapted the Great Seal of New Jersey.