Yellow Trail and Forest Edge Trail – Crystal Lake County Park– Mansfield, Burlington County, NJ
Distance: 8.5 total miles of trails, we did 3 1/2 miles
Type: Web of trails
Difficulty: 4 of 10 – lots of ups and downs, would be VERY slippery when there is rain or ice.
Total score: 8 of 10.
Updated – March 14, 2017
Official website –Crystal Lake Park @ Burlington County Parks
Map – Park Map.
Terrain – farm fields, woods, a gully, and a lake
Trailheads – 40° 6’58.71″N, 74°44’23.79″W at edge of parking lot (connector to yellow trail).
There is also one at 40° 6’50.43″N, 74°44’17.47″W along the entrance road for the Blue Trail.
Directions – 2401 Axe Factory Rd, Mansfield, NJ 08505. The turn for the park is labeled, but is a small dirt road that is gated when the park is closed. It doesn’t look like the correct turn, but I assure you that it is. Just keep driving and you’ll quickly hit the parking lot.
Parking: Dirt lot at the end of the driveway.
Standouts – Crystal Lake
Markings – Painted blazes
Haha, I’m sure this is not always the case, but on a chilly Saturday, myself and five companions and two babies set across the icy, yet muddy terrain to find Crystal Lake. We were warned by the local crazy Ralph, “There’s a death curse!”, but being overconfident teenagers all, we went onward.
We opted for a more direct route along the Yellow trail, which starts through the farm fields next to the parking lot, takes a slight right, then an immediate left to enter the woods.
Being overconfident teenagers, the loss of our first companion was laughed off. And we confidently headed onward into the woods section of the trail. It curved a bit before narrowing down to a true trail.
At the loss of our second companion, and continuing to be over confident teenagers, we decided the best idea would be to split into groups. Two girls and a baby headed back. Two guys and an infant pressed onward. When folks mysteriously disappear at Crystal Lake, it’s always best to split into groups. Always. The girls and baby were never seen again, more victims of Crystal Lake.
The trail drops into a ravine, which was interesting navigating in the snow. Here is the first tricky part, as the track you are on becomes an unblazed path, while the yellow trail turns right. Always keep an eye on the blazes! It wound around some low parts, meandered across a bridge, and came to a “T” intersection. The Red Trail goes left, but we opted right to stay on the Yellow Trail. We’ll definitely be back to check out the other direction at some point.
Turning right, you climb to to the top of a bluff. The Yellow Trail dead ends straight ahead at the Edge of Woods Trail. We opted for a left, following the Red Trail to the intersection with the Blue Trail. Here, we found what we were looking for – the killer is the old school nurse Mrs. Voorhees!
Wait, no. We figured out this is NOT that Crystal Lake and that no one who has disappeared had been serial murdered, but had all instead intelligently turned back while Skunk, The Pres, and I pushed forward through the snowy woods. Whew!
We decided to go back without taking on the ravine again. We backtracked to the intersection with the Yellow Trail, took a left, and within seconds found the intersection with the Edge of the Woods Trail. We took a right onto this and followed it all the way back to the parking lot.
Also, everyone was waiting back at the cars. Hooray!
Overall recommendation: I will definitely be back, especially as the NJ Birding & Wildlife Trails suggesting going in June to see the blooming rhododendron. Rhododendron and more overlooks.
Nearby: This is less than 10 minutes from downtown Bordentown, which is chock full of history (home to America’s first spy, Revolutionary propagandist Thomas Paine of “these are the times that try mens’ souls” fame, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and, of course, a the deposed former king of Spain and brother to Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte) and nice shops.