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.
Total score: 8 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.
Map: Download here or a small version –
Directions: Follow your GPS to Rancocas Ave or plot the intersection of Deacon Rd and Woolman Rd.
Standouts – Beautiful views of Rancocas Creek, a few remains of old houses, and lots and lots of trees.
Markings – Traditional paint markers on trees. Arrows mark the connector trails to other marked trails. Overall, very well marked.
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.
The Green Trail runs straight down the edge of a ridge, with a pretty good drop off (for South Jersey) to one side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To the right was the river. Within a short period of time, we began to see signs of people having lived here.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
Overall recommendation: This gem of a park immediately enters into the Pantheon of my favorite hikes in South Jersey. You must go.
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.