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crystallakeintroYellow 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.
Updated – March 14, 2017

Official website –Crystal Lake Park @ Burlington County Parks

Map – Park Map.

crystallakemap2

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.

crystallakeparking

Markings – Painted blazes

Description: SNOWY!

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.

No swimming. Skunk doesn't listen well.



No swimming. Skunk doesn’t listen well.

Down a road/trail that is obviously used by tractors. This part was tricky because of the alternating ice and mud. We lost our first companion here.

Down a road/trail that is obviously used by tractors. This part was tricky because of the alternating ice and mud. We lost our first companion here.

After the first turn.

After the first turn.

Hang a left into the woods.

Hang a left into the woods to stay on the Yellow Trail.  Going straight will put you on the Edge of the Woods Trail, which is really just a farm road.  We would come back that way later.

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.

Onward!

Onward!

The trail narrows from a road to a true trail. The snow made it magical. That's when we lost our second companion.

The trail narrows from a road to a true trail. The snow made it magical. That’s when we lost our second companion.

The woods were very pretty in the snow.

The woods were very pretty in the snow.

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.

 



Looking back at the way we came down into the ravine. It's not ridiculously steep, but it would be tricky when wet or snowy.

Looking back at the way we came down into the ravine. It’s not ridiculously steep, but it would be tricky when wet or snowy.

First tricky part. Yellow Trail turns left here, but it's not following the main pathway here anymore. This is just at the bottom of the ravine.

First tricky part. Yellow Trail turns left here, but it’s not following the main pathway here anymore. This is just at the bottom of the ravine.

First bridge. We'll cross that one.

First bridge. We’ll cross that one.

Coming up to the t-intersection. You can see the bridge for the Red Trail from here.

Coming up to the t-intersection. You can see the bridge for the Red Trail from here.

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!

Almost to our goal!

Almost to our goal!

Turning left onto the Red Trail.

Turning left onto the Red Trail.

At the intersection of the Blue and Red Trails, we found the lake! This is one of several marked overlooks, we'll have to come back and check out some other ones on a less snowy day.

At the intersection of the Blue and Red Trails, we found the lake! This is one of several marked overlooks, we’ll have to come back and check out some other ones on a less snowy day.

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.



Transition between edge of the woods and the woods.

Transition between edge of the woods and the woods.

Also, everyone was waiting back at the cars.  Hooray!

"Daddy, you so crazy" says Tree Rider.

“Daddy, you so crazy” says Tree Rider.

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.

If you see these hoodlums coming though, get out of the way. They're looking for cupcakes.

If you see these hoodlums coming though, get out of the way. They’re looking for cupcakes.

The Good

The lake, the hills, the birds, the meadows

The Could Be Better

My legs felt this one afterwards.

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this is a beautiful park with some serious up and down (for South Jersey), nice lake views, tons of birds, flowers, and brand new facilities... what's not to love?

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southjerseytrails
  • March 2, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Fun read and interesting hike! I was a bit nervous about the missing persons but was glad everyone was ok in the end! And did you guys ever find cupcakes?

  • October 4, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I just went to Crystal Lake for the first time a couple weeks ago. (in Sept). I didn’t like the fields. I liked walking thru the woods though. Some steep spots, but ok for someone like me who isn’t really in shape.

  • Christine Hill
    May 1, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    This park has had a lot of work done in the last year. There is now an entrance and parking on Route 130, and all the bridges have been rebuilt. I like it best in spring when the wildflowers are wonderful: spring beauty, jack in the pulpit, bloodroot, mayapple, trout lily, wood anemone, Dutchman’s breeches, and more. I have also seen a pileated woodpecker there.

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