Maurice River Bluffs Preserve – Millville, NJ

Welcome to the Maurice River Bluffs!

Welcome to the Maurice River Bluffs!  Taken from the floating dock.

Blue, Orange, Red, and White Trails – Maurice River Bluffs Preserve – Millville, Cumberland County, NJ
Distance: 5 miles.  The map is a little confusing.  We did 3.7 miles, skipping only some short bits of the orange trail and part of the non-alternate Blue Trail (which was closed).  5 miles is a best guess.
Type: Web of trails (many of them are loops, the orange trail loops back on itself several times)
Difficulty: 7 of 10 – your legs will feel these hills the next day!
Total score:  10 of 10.

Terrain – woodlands, riverbanks, lots and lots of hills.

Trailheads – 39° 21.200’N,  75° 2.179’W – all trails lead from the parking lot.

Go under this sign and you'll hit the trails.

Go under this sign and you’ll hit the trails.

Directions: On Silver Run Road, 1 1/2 miles South of Dividing Creek Road.

Look for the entrance sign.

Look for the entrance sign.

Parking -Large, gravel lot

Parking lot.

Parking lot.

Standouts – views from the bluffs are well worth the ups and downs of the trail.  Also bird blind, floating dock, awesome bridge.

Official Website – Nature Conservancy

Map – PDF file map (missing orange trail)

Official map (missing orange trail)

Official map (missing orange trail)

Map at the site (all trails, but some sun glare)

Map at the site (all trails, but some sun glare)

Markings –

Traditional painted trail markers.

Traditional painted trail markers.

Sign posts at trail intersections

Sign posts at trail intersections

Description – Get ready, this is going to be a good hike (thanks for the recommendation Mary!)!  You’ll start by walking through the archway, which will immediately put you on the Blue Trail.  Go right to head south.  You’ll notice that there is quite a drop off to your left as you hike.

See?

See?

You’ll quickly hit a small road and lose the trail markers.  This was one of only two spots were the trail wasn’t crystal clear.  Turn left and follow the road.  The road IS the Blue Trail (I promise).  You’ll soon hit the intersection of the Blue and Orange Trails (as shown by the signposts).  Hang a right onto the orange trail and travel halfway around the field.  You’ll make your first available left, also onto the orange trail, and head into the woods.

The road.

The road (aka, Blue Trail)

Turn onto the Orange Trail (preferably at full speed).

Turn onto the Orange Trail (preferably at full speed).

Tree in the field.

Tree in the field.

Edge of the field where we'll be making our right turn...

Edge of the field where we’ll be making our right turn…

Into the woods.

Into the woods.

Once into the woods, the orange trail will pass a sand/gravel pit with some buildings.  This is off the edge of the conservancy, but at least you’re going the right way!  The orange trail is going to make another weird loop soon where it will intersect itself.  To the right – down the bluff to the bird blind.  To the left, a sweet bridge.

Choices.  Choices.

Choices. Choices.

We took this choice of course.

We took this choice of course.

Alas, these are loops, so you can walk the bridge AND see the bird blind.  After crossing the bridge, we went right and headed down the hill to the water’s edge, where the blind is located.

Lots of blow downs here.

Lots of blow downs here.

The Pres is in training for Legends of the Hidden Temple.  I don't have the heart to tell him that they cancelled it decades ago.

The Pres is in training for Legends of the Hidden Temple. I don’t have the heart to tell him that they cancelled it decades ago.

Finally, we arrive at the bird blind.  Pretty nice.

Finally, we arrive at the bird blind. Pretty nice.

View from the blind.

View from the blind.

Backtrack up the hill to the bridge, but stay right this time to complete the loop back to the field.  At the next Orange/Orange intersection, stay right again to complete this edge of the field.  You’ll quickly get to the second Orange/Blue intersection.  Make a right onto the Blue Trail, forever leaving behind the confusion that is three interlocking loops of the same color trail.

Field from a new angle.

Field from a new angle.

This is the old road again.  You’ll pass an old shell of a house (area closed!) and soon be able to see the river through the trees.  Before you get there, the trail will leave the road on the left side, taking you around a bit of private property.  You’ll come up on a picnic table, where the Blue Trail will split.  The left continues the loop, we’ll come back to that.  The right is a spur down to a floating dock.  Go check it out!

Old house as seen from the trail.

Old house as seen from the trail.

Old box/boat/something.

Old box/boat/something.

I can see water!

I can see water!

Split left and head toward the picnic table.  One thing I LOVE about this place is that it has a wilderness feel, but also has conveniently placed, yet well spread out, picnic tables.

Split left and head toward the picnic table. One thing I LOVE about this place is that it has a wilderness feel, but also has conveniently placed, yet well spread out, picnic tables.  Head right here, the table is at the intersection.

Floating dock.  Yes, you are allowed out on it.

Floating dock. Yes, you are allowed out on it.

Picture from the floating dock.

Picture from the floating dock.

When you’ve had you fill of floating, backtrack to the picnic table and take the Blue Trail past it, along the riverside.  The trail is going to get really fun for the next mile or so.  It’s a roller coaster of ups and downs, stairs, and down slopes.  By this point The Pres was riding in the pack, and he loved the downhills, and laughed at me on the uphills.  Thanks dude.

Along the edge of the river.

Along the edge of the river.

Down, down, down.

Down, down, down.

At the top of a flight of steps, you’ll see a sign that marks the Blue Trail closed further ahead (it’s closed between here and the intersection of the red and blue trail).  It must have been closed for a while, because they have an alternate blue trail well blazed and is on the map.  When you think “alternates”, you usually think boring, easy way around.  That is not the case here, it’s more roller coaster, and even the rarest of all trail breeds, the South Jersey switchback.  Whoa!  The other slightly tricky spot is here, through a dense forest of very thin threes, where there are game trails all over the place.  Just keep an eye on the trail markers and you’ll be fine.  Eventually, you’ll reach a four way intersection (2 ways Blue Trail, 1 way Blue Alternate Trail, one way Red Trail).

Up the stairs.  At the top of the steps, the (closed) Blue Trail will go straight.  The alternate blue trail will go left.

Up the stairs. At the top of the steps, the (closed) Blue Trail will go straight. The alternate blue trail will go left.

Brush.

Brush.

Cool patch of woods.  Keep an eye on the trail markers, some of this is tricky.

Cool patch of woods. Keep an eye on the trail markers, some of this is tricky.

A switchback.  I wasn't kidding.

A switchback. I wasn’t kidding.

Really thin trees.

Really thin trees.

Four way intersection.

Four way intersection.

At this intersection, you have two real choices.  Left will take you back to the parking lot.  Straight OR right will put you on the Red Trail loop (I know right says blue on the sign, just around the corned is the red trail).  We went right, because that is the direction that we felt like going.  Just around the bend is another intersection.  Right is the other end of the closed section of the Blue Trail.  Left will put you on the Red Trail loop (told you it would work out).  Take the Red Trail.

Split in the trail.  Stay left.

Split in the trail. Stay left.

FINALLY, no confusing intersections for a half mile or so!  Just enjoy the ups and downs of some very bumpy terrain, the tiniest bit of marshland, the smell of salt in the air, and some nice marsh views.

Very nicely made trail.

Very nicely made trail.

More switchbacks!!!  No handrail this time though.

More switchbacks!!! No handrail this time though.

Just the tiniest bit of swamp (seriously tiny).

Just the tiniest bit of swamp (seriously tiny).

Nice views and smell.

Nice views and smell.

Lovely, lovely trail.

mrp34

Someone is sleepy.

Someone is sleepy.

I told you, serious hills.

I told you, serious hills.

Great view from a few steps off the trail just before it hits the road.

Great view from a few steps off the trail just before it hits the road.

 

When the Red Trail just can’t go any further north, you’ll hit a small dirt road.  Left keeps you on the Red Trail.  Right puts you on a short trail, the White Trail, which is an intense loop with some big ups and downs.  Take the white loop, you will NOT be disappointed.  I suggest heading right (off of the road) first, but that’s just me.  Either direction will be grand.  You’ll loop around, then come back down the road to this same intersection.  Go straight down the road, onto the part of the Red Trail that you haven’t done yet.

View from where the Red Trail hits the road.  From this angle, you can see the beginning and end of the White Trail loop.  Go right up there.

View from where the Red Trail hits the road. From this angle, you can see the beginning and end of the White Trail loop. Go right up there.

I wish I wasn't carrying The Pres.  Curious if he could make it over.

I wish I wasn’t carrying The Pres. Curious if he could make it over.

Up, up, up!

Up, up, up!

View from the top of the first bluff.

View from the top of the first bluff.

Down to water level.

Down to water level.

Either not patrolled well, or patrolled by men and women who like to drink and nail beer caps to things.(or some weird anti-seagull thing I don't know about).

Either not patrolled well, or patrolled by men and women who like to drink and nail beer caps to things.(or some weird anti-seagull thing I don’t know about).

Top of the second bluff.  PERFECT place for a picnic table.  The Pres needs a snack, I need to breath after climbing two straight bluffs with The Pres on my back.

Top of the second bluff. PERFECT place for a picnic table. The Pres needs a snack, I need to breath after climbing two straight bluffs with The Pres on my back.

Storage tanks.  Not sure for storing what, but there are the remains of an old pier in the water...

Storage tanks. Not sure for storing what, but there are the remains of an old pier in the water…

... right next to said tanks.

… right next to said tanks.

Done the loop!  The Red Trail goes left and straight.  We came from the left, so it's straight down the road for us.

Done the loop! The Red Trail goes left and straight. We came from the left, so it’s straight down the road for us.

We’re on the home stretch now, finishing the Red Trail loop, then just a tiny bit of the Blue Trail into the parking lot.  Nice and easy, right?  NO!  The Maurice River Bluffs Preserve pulls no punches!  You’ll have an easy water down this road for a very short time (keep your eyes open, The Pres and I spotted two deer), then you’ll turn left off of the road and head back into roller coaster country.  This is a fun, exciting (and tiring) part of the trail to hike, so we loved it.  You’ll also end up in some spots where the hills rise on either side of you.  Eventually, you’ll come into that four way intersection that we finished the Blue Alternate Trail at.  The only slightly disappointing part of this section is, for a little ways, you are in hearing distance of the road.  It would be hard not to be at some point though, and the rest of the trail is far away from any other human noise (we only met one guy biking in the preserve and an AT section hiker in the parking lot in our 2 1/2 hours there… not bad!).

 

Down the road.

Down the road.

Left turn off the old roadway.

Left turn off the old roadway.

I love Maurice River Bluffs Preserve.

I love Maurice River Bluffs Preserve.

Again, roller coaster of a trail.

Again, roller coaster of a trail.

Up the gap.

Up the gap.

Back to the four way intersection!  We'll head right, the only trail part we haven't done yet.

Back to the four way intersection! We’ll head right, the only trail part we haven’t done yet.

You’re almost back!  Turn right onto the Blue Trail, one more sizable climb and you’ll complete the loop behind the gateway where we started.  Head out to the parking lot and give yourself a pat on the back for an awesome hike.

Overall recommendation – Totally worth spending a day just to go visit and hike here.  It’s awesome.  I know when I need backpacking training for anywhere with hills (pretty much anywhere outside South Jersey), I’ll keep this place in mind.

Also in the area –
Harold N Peek Preserve – another Nature Conservancy preserve just on the other side of the river in Millville.  Good if you need some more miles.
Wheaton Arts & Cultural Center – the reason most folks know where Millville is.

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10 Comments

Filed under Hiking

10 responses to “Maurice River Bluffs Preserve – Millville, NJ

  1. Lynda

    Enjoyed your blog. Was at the bluffs today (aug 5, 2014) with 5 children and grandmom. Couldn’t do more than blue and white trails. Difinity going back for orange trails. Thanks!

  2. Dee C

    on way home from Philly decided to visit,got to welcome area, but left. No sign saying you could drive through fence area, nothing saying to park at the sign area, just weren’t sure what to do so didn’t stay. Thanks to this we will go and spend some hours!

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  6. Ace

    Quick question..
    Are dogs permitted at the maurice river bluffs preserve? I have a beagle that loves to hike with me. She is never off leash though.

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