Bordentown Bluffs Trail – Abbott Marshlands (formerly Trenton-Hamilton-Bordentown Marsh) – D&R Canal State Park – Bordentown, Mercer County, NJ
Distance: I’ll put it about 2 miles total out and back. We did 2.4 but started on the wrong trail and backtracked some.
Difficulty: 4 of 10 – some climbs and watch out for bugs (we only had a problem in the very beginning, it was pleasant the rest of the trail)
Total score: 5 of 10.
Terrain – High bluffs and some swamplands.
Trailheads – Stanton Ave Trailhead – 40° 9.674’N, 74° 42.163’W
Orchard Ave Trailhead – 40° 10.087’N, 74° 42.070’W (not sure if there is parking)
Directions: Trailsheads located on Stanton Ave in Bordentown, NJ. Note that Stanton Ave did NOT have a road sign when I visited, so trust your GPS or check out a map program online ahead of time to see the layout. Stanton is off of Mission Road, a short distance off of Rt 130.
Parking – located along Stanton Road
Standouts – High bluffs, rhododendron bushes
Markings – Red and yellow blazes on trees.
Maps: Download a map in pdf format by clicking here or a smaller image is here –
Description: The Bordentown Bluffs Trails are part of both D&R State Park and the Abbot Marshlands area.
The beginning is a little hairy. First, park on Stanton Ave, which is not labeled, but is shortly off of Rt 130. It will be a dead end street (ends at a sewage treatment plant) with all the signs covered over. Don’t worry, you are in the right spot.
From the “parking area”, there are two gates, partially covered over with plants, neither of which looks really trailworthy. Pick the one on the right side. If you pick the one on the left (like we did), have fun on a overgrown former road where you’re wading through weeds. We’ll pretend that we chose correctly for the purposes of this write up.
The first ten feet will be a bit hairy, but then in opens up nicely into a solid trail. After a short walk, the trail will come to a “t” with a nice sign point the correct ways.
I’d head left first to the beach. It’s a very short walk, you’ll know that you’re there when you see gas pipeline signs. Get down close to the water (there is a spot to pull out kayaks just to the left of the beach) and admire Crosswicks Creek.
Head back the way you came, heading down the other way on the “t” this time. This will be a much longer walk, somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.75 to 1 miles. This is a nice bit of woodlands, enjoy the shade of the trees (even though it was 80 out, we were comfortable in the shade). The next interesting bit of trail is when it drops straight down into some mud. I’m not sure of this is a tidal creek or not, but I suspect it’s more of a “when it rains alot” creek. It had poured the day before, but the trail was surprisingly solid and dry despite its appearance in these pictures. Regardless, you’ll be heading right back up the other side.
When I started this hike (down the wrong entrance), I thought the trail might be abandoned because it was so overgrown. I was correct, because I was walking in the wrong spot. The only other area that I saw that wasn’t quite perfectly maintained is just after the climb out of the creek bed, when there were a number of blowdowns right after each other. I suspect that these are two big to cut through without creating a worse obstacle on the trail. Nevertheless, it was amusing to see so many red blazes on the ground in a row (only amusing because they weren’t hard to get over at all, even with a two year old on my back).
Shortly after the climb out of the creekbed, the red trail will head left while the yellow trail will start to the right. Take a left to go down the Red Trail. It will end after a few hundred feet at a nice overlook. There is also an unmarked path down to the water that The Pres and I decided to go for. It was a little hairy in spots, but adventures are always a good idea (and adventures within adventures an even better idea).
Because the Red Trail ends here, turn around and head back to the intersection. Take the Yellow Trail this time. It’ll be more of the same until you reach a spot where the Yellow Trail splits two ways. It’s okay, this is a loop, but take the left split.
The Yellow Trail will go toward the water, then make a sharp right and climb the bluffs (over 20 feet high here). It will then run along the ridge of the bluffs over the water. You’ll get some nice partial views off to the left through the trees. Eventually, the Yellow Trail turns right down the bluff. DON’T TAKE IT! Instead, continue straight on an unblazed trail and within 50 feet, you’ll have your most clear view of Crosswicks Creek of the day (for any sort of height).
Back track to where you left the trail and take it down off of the bluffs now.
In a short time, the Yellow Trail will split again. Left will take you toward the Orchard Ave trailhead.
Right will complete the loop that you started on the Yellow Trail (passing a tire swing. I am informing you that it is there, I am not encouraging you to use it). Use it to backtrack to the Red Trail, then to backtrack to the path that led you into the trail system. We had a great time with this one!
Overall recommendation: While overall not as nice as it’s brother trails at John Roebling Memorial Park, it offers some elevation changes and a more challenging hike that Roebling, as well as some different terrain. The Pres and I were happy that we made the drive for this one. Also, since neither hike is ridiculously long, why not do both in the same day?
Also nearby: There are four other trails in the Abbots Marshlands, including the beautiful John Roebling Memorial Park and three that I haven’t hiked yet, but will.
Friends of Abbott Marshlands