Happy Earth Day!
River Overlook Trail and Jenkins Landing Trail – Natural Lands Harold N. Peek Preserve – Millville, Cumberland County, NJ
Distance: About 3 miles of trails
NOTE: This does not include that the access road is walk-in only, about 0.33 miles one way.
River Overlook Trail – 1 mile round trip (according to GPS)
Jenkins Landing Trail – 0.4 miles round trip (sic)
Red Cedar Overlook Trail – listed as 1.5 miles round trip
Type: Lollipops, loops, spurs, and out-and-back
Difficulty: 2 of 10.
Terrain – swamps, woodlands, fields, river
Trailheads – 39° 22.554’N, 75° 1.572’W (Parking Lot at gate)
Directions – Near intersection of S. 2nd Street and Columbine Ave (2100 S. 2nd Street), Millville, NJ
Standouts – Nice views of the Maurice River, plus nice swamps and boardwalks.
Markings – Arrow placards.
Description: The Peek Preserve is a little tricky to find at first, and looks closed when you first pull up because the gate is shut and locked. It’s not closed, find a good parking spot between some trees, unload your supplies, and start hiking down the road!
You’ll have about 1/3 of a mile to go until you hit the kiosk that marks the beginning of both the Red Cedar Overlook and River Overlook Trails. Keep an eye out for the wooden fence posts to the right, that’s the landmark for the trail heads. The River Overlook Trail goes right (past the kiosk), the Red Cedar Overlook Trail goes right. The River Overlook Trail also goes straight up the road, that’s the way that we’ll be coming back.
You’ll walk along through a bit of pine forest to start. The trail will split, going straight on one way and making a sharp left the other. Stay straight for now (we’ll take the other split on the way back). This part of the trail will now look like a lollipop! Keep walking until you find the solar panels in the field (just outside the preserve proper). As you get to the field, the trail turns left and follows the edge of the woods.
Somewhere soon, the top of the lollipop trail will split off to the right. I never saw it, and missed it coming back to (I lost the trail a bit and was out in the field). I think the trail splits roughly where the treeline meets the corner of the field. No matter, stay left if you find the split! This will take you in a short loop on some banks overlooking the Maurice River. No clear views, but it’s a nice stroll down the edge of the banks (watch your step!)
From here, the loop will circle back to the solar array field and meet up with itself, completing the lollipop. Keep going a short distance until you have the option to turn right. Go ahead and do it. This will quickly take you past marshlands along the river’s edge before finally dumping you out on a very small road (yet, definitely a road).
At the intersection with the road, left along the road will continue you along the River Overlook Trail. Right along the road will take you on the Jenkin’s Landing spur trail. The spur is a short one with a GREAT view from a boardwalk at the end, so I highly recommend taking it.
When you’ve had your fill of the view, backtrack down the Jenkin’s Trail to the road, then follow the road a short distance to the real road (complete with parking lot). You’ll see a house to the right, it’s labeled “Visitor’s Center (Opening 2008)” on the map, but we didn’t go knock on the door to see if it ever opened. Instead, go left down the same red packed road that you started on. Bathrooms are to the right.
The road will take you back to the kiosk. You can turn right and do the out-and-back lollipop that is the Red Cedar Overlook Trail (about 1 1/2 miles total) or you can continue down the road back to the visitor’s lot. Sadly, it’s a long drive back home, so we missed the Red Cedar Overlook Trail this time, despite it’s promises of a boardwalk over the marshland. Hopefully wecan hike it one day when I’m in the area.
Overall recommendation: Nice hike! Can be combined with the nearby Maurice River Bluff Preserve or Parvin State Park (future hikes!) for a nice, long day.
Not quite in the area – On the way home, we stopped to see how the rebuilding of the Palace of Depression is coming along. I finished the highly-recommended-by-me-to-you book The Fantastic Castle of Vineland: George Daynor and the Palace of Depression by Patricia Martinelli recently, and I’ve been itching to stop by since. It’s less than five minutes out of my way off of Rt 55, so why not?
Consensus: It’s going pretty good. I can’t wait until it’s all done.
Nice views of the Maurice River, plus nice swamps and boardwalks.
BUGS in the wrong seasons.