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Cold Spring Nature Preserve Trail – Marlton, Burlington County, NJ
Distance – We did 1.9 miles with the roadwalk back to the trailhead.  We missed a 0.9 mile loop trail.
Type – Loops and out-and-backs (or can make a loop with a road walk)
Difficulty: 5 of 10 – entrance trail has been overgrown for some time now.
Total score: 4  of 10

Note – One of our readers reports that there are trail hookups with neighboring Black Run Preserve.  Yay!

Website – http://www.rancocasconservancy.org/
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – forest, swamps, and old bogs

Trailheads –  39°51’2.20″N,  74°54’24.92″W (Bortons Mill Road) – Note this trailhead is currently overgrown.  You can pick up the trail a bit further down the road, but I need to figure out exactly how to do this.
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Directions – Trail is found at 196 Braddocks Mill Road in Marlton, NJ.  This is right near the Union Mills Lake and close to the intersection with Tomilson Mill Road.

Parking – Roadside parking.
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Markings – Yellow diamond markers and white on black markers (separate trails).
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Map – Does not include the loop we didn’t do.  Does include the roadwalk back!
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Description –

I was putting up a new trail on our facebook page when I noticed a post from the Rancocas Conservancy about a new trail grand opening that they’d had the previous day.  I got really excited when I realized it was in Marlton, as new trails that close to my house don’t open up all that often.

The next day, I knew that I had to swap cars and kids at my wife’s job (the fun of working barely-not-overlapping shifts) and quickly realized this was only a few minutes from there.  Twenty hours later, Tree Rider, The Pres, and I pulled up to the sign by the new trailhead on Borton’s Mill Road, unloaded, and went off into the woods of the new Cold Spring Nature Preserve.

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The trail goes past the sign, across an open field, and into the woods. Update – this path is no longer mown.  I have heard rumors the trail head has moved to the left of this field, right off the road, but haven’t been able to get back and check yet.




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The trails on this side of the preserve aren’t well worn in yet, but by following the yellow diamond trail markers, supplemented heavily by ribbons tied on trees, it was pretty easy to stay on the trail, even if this new trail isn’t always clear where it goes from the treadway.

It got interesting pretty quick, as you walk down what once was a road or driveway and run into what was a house or a storage building of some sort.  Assorted refuse and cinder blocks spread all over the immediate vicinity.  There was even a pair of machines of some sort, and an old radiator.

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Once through this initial remains of settlement, the trail heads off into some standard mixed forest, winding through the forest and crossing a few branches of a stream on some small bridges.  We enjoyed the remaining leaves that were up on the tree, and The Pres ran back and forth across the bridges a few times.

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After the bridges, the trail quickly reaches what seems to be the edge of the tract, and starts to makes its way back toward the road.  There are some interesting areas of closely packed brush that the trail practically tunnels through, mixed with more widely dispersed areas with some nice sized trees.  Eventually, the trail reaches Braddock’s Mill Road.

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At this point, I figured the hike was over.  We’d gone about 3/4 of a mile, and I had figured that this was a pretty small preserve.  I figured very, very wrong.  When we hit the road and got ready to walk down the road to the car, I quickly realized that the trail crossed the road and continued on the other side.  Interesting.  We’d been in the woods for a while, and I still figured that the preserve couldn’t be that big, so we crossed the road and continued on.

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At this point, I was happy with our little adventure.  The trail wasn’t the most fantastic I’d ever seen, but it was a beautiful day to be out there and a nice patch of woods.  There was a house on this side of the road, and I figured the trail looped behind it and would quickly loop back to my car.  Mission complete, time to head home.

Cold Spring Preserve had other plans.  The trail did what I expected at first, curving behind the house…

(and passing the pitcher)

(and passing the pitcher)

… but then found an old road route and headed for the wild woods.

Not pointing to my car.

Not pointing to my car.

This side of the woods was much different.  The trails (which looked like remains of old roads) were much clearer and well tread.  The woods looked a lot like Evesham’s premier outdoor preserve, Black Run Preserve (Side note: loyal South Jersey Trails reader Tim G. pointed out on The Facebook that unmarked trails connect Black Run to this new preserve.  Pulling up Google Earth, it became clear why, they are right next to each other), which is a good thing!  The Pres and I enjoyed a healthy walk in the woods, enjoying the beautiful 70 degree weather, while Tree Rider conked out in the backpack.  The Pres discovered a leaf the size of his torso that he decided to bring with, I took pictures of the last few remaining leaves on trees, all was well.  The trail wound further and further and further away from the car, but as we were heading for paved roads, I wasn’t too worried.  At some point, we merged onto a trail with a black square on a white square.



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I’d settled into what I thought the Cold Spring Preserve was, when it suddenly threw another surprise at me at another rather long bridge.  The topo map (I heart the backpacker.com app with it’s topo maps of EVERWHERE EVER) had shown an old bog off in the distance a ways, off where I didn’t expect the trail to be.  The trail had other ideas though, and that’s where it headed.  As the trail crossed the bridge, we got our first (and on this ever darkening late afternoon, only) view of the bog, and it was a beaut.

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We soon hit a labeled intersection, where the black-on-white trail hooked left to start a 0.9 mile loop that appeared to circle the blog.  We were sorely tempted, but with the baby asleep, the light rapidly disappearing, and The Pres having already covered nearly a mile and a half (I had figured on a mile tops and planned accordingly… silly planning), the loop just wasn’t in the cards this day.  I’m super, super, super excited to go back and walk it.

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Instead, it was straight ahead, quickly arriving at a four way intersection where the marked trail turned right, climbing a short, steep embankment.
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Within a few hundred feet, it was out of the woods and onto Tomlinson Mill Road.  It was only here that we finally became unsure of the trail, which evaporated by the road.  We gave up on the trail and decided to do a roadwalk back.  On the road, I almost immediately spotted the trail markers for how to get in off the road, and poking my head in, it appeared that the trail simply ran into the road about where the small section of fence was and ended.

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A ten minute walk down Kenilworth Road to Borton’s Mill Road put us back at our car as the last bit of light faded from the sky.  With the roadwalk, our GPS put our little hike at almost exactly two miles.

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Nearby – As previously stated, the super awesome Black Run Preserve is adjacent to this property. Together, that’s a heck of a day of hiking.

The Good

Nice patches of woods, remains of old buildings, and beautiful bog area.

The Could Be Better

Entrance trail was originally mown, but hasn't been mown in quite a while, making it impossible to get to the deeper part of the trail from the trailhead.

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Bottom Line

This hike started out great with the ruins, moved on to a fairly middle-of-the-road patch of woods, but then became really awesome once it crossed to the other side of Borton’s Mill Road. I get the feeling that the loop around the bog might be the highlight of this preserve, so I’ll have to go back and find out!

Unfortunately, without access to the trail from the trailhead, this trail is difficult to get to from the main trailhead.

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southjerseytrails
  • Jim Ryan
    May 7, 2018 at 2:53 am

    Hi Mike — I tried looking for this one today, and I know I was in the right area, but I couldn’t find 196 Borton’s Mill Road; the closest road with a similar name is Bortons Road, but there was no preserve off this road. I looked on the Rancocas Conservancy website you link to, and discovered that the address was 196 _Braddock_ Mill Road! I know there’s a Borton’s Mill Road in Cherry Hill Twp.; that’s where Borton’s Mill Trails and Croft Farm Trails are located. (I had a feeling there was a mismatch going on there…you said Cold Springs NP was in Marlton; yet, Borton’s Mill Rd. is in Cherry Hill Twp.) Perhaps a slight correction is in store? I still hope to make it out to Cold Spring Preserve at some point!

    Oddly enough, while looking for Cold Spring NP (traveling down Hopewell Rd. to get to this Bortons Rd.), I actually _did_ stumble upon the road to Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, so it wasn’t a total loss! What a neat place that is, with the rescued animals…saw some owls, crows, squirrels, deer and even two majestic bald eagles! Did all three trails as well (Blue, Yellow, White…not quite the whole trail though, as I ran out of time.)

    So, thanks to your blog (once again) I at least discovered one other place I hadn’t had on my list for this year…and I think I’ll now be able to find Cold Springs NP, so I look forward to that as well.

    Will be looking out for your next adventure!

    Jim

    • southjerseytrails
      May 8, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Oh no! So sorry about the road mix up. I lived just off of Bortons Mill Road in Cherry Hill for six years, and my brain must have automatically substituted it in there. Anyway, just fixed it.

      The trailhead is overgrown right now anyway, and the back end of the preserve (which is supposed to hook into Black Run Preserve) is cut off by flooding due to beavers. This one is probably worth waiting for until Black Run gets their new bridge built that they are currently fundraising for.

      However, I’m glad that you found Cedar Run! It’s an absolute gem, and my kids love going there for little hikes and to see the animals.

  • Jim Ryan
    June 25, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Hi Mike — I finally visited this place today…unfortunately, I forgot to read your full response to my comment last month. To say that the main trail is “overgrown” is definitely an understatement! It’s not so much the high grasses/weeds, but small _trees_ that seem to have taken it upon themselves to just grow there. I did try a little bushwhacking, and happened to find the main trail (i.e. marked with yellow diamonds), and I could follow it for a while (albeit there was very tall grass on most of it, which I can deal with, but NOT when there are also hidden branches on the ground that could easily twist an ankle!), but after seeing maybe a second yellow diamond, the trail seemed to fizzle out (in all directions); there were branches, blocked passages and major swampy areas everywhere, with no other yellow diamond in sight, so sadly, I had to turn around and head back. I did pass by the old machinery though, so at least I got something out of it! All in all, it seems like this preserve has become “the forgotten”, as on the main website, every other preserve has a blurb but this one. I’m glad you and the kids at least got to see some of it when you did the hike; it looked like a pretty neat place at one time!

    At least, Black Run Preserve was just around the corner to save the day! Seems like every time I visit the website (or the preserve itself), the trails (while still the same ones) change colors every time! Anyway, I did the Black Run trail, and I have to say — I’m wondering if the “black square” trail you and the kids encountered was indeed the Black Run Trail in Black Run Preserve? One part of the Black Run Trail (on the west side of BRP) seemed to head in the general direction of Cold Spring Nature Preserve, and at one point, I saw the “Rancocas Conservancy” sign, and even one of the yellow diamonds (that was also off the main trailhead off Braddock Mill Road). I’m thinking that even though there was no sign (other than Rancocas Conservancy”, I must have entered CSNP. But as promised, the trail fizzled out and abruptly ended at a swamp/flooded area (i.e. the “beaver problem”.)

    Anyway, I turned back and did the rest of the trail in full, which included having to hop onto Kettle Run Rd. for a little road walk, then turning left into the eastern portion of BRP, onto what was once (and still labeled on some signs as) the Purple Trail, but alas, it was still part of Black Run Trail, which traversed through the area where I once hiked on the trail as the Purple Trail; only, it didn’t end at the Red Trail as it did before, but rather cross it, then parallel it for a while (getting close to a golf course in the process; I was able to hear a golf ball being hit, and saw someone on a golf cart through the trees), then finally cross Red again, as well as Blue, and end at another section of the Red Trail. Also, I think the Orange Trail is now part of Red too.

    Anyway, I will continue to look forward to other adventures; I have recently done the following (thanks to you):
    – Whitman Walk
    – Tranquility Trails
    – Lake Narraticon
    – Bunker Hill Trails (Cherry Hill Trail System)

    Unfortunately, as close to Oldman’s Creek Preserve as I was (when I did TT), I didn’t have the time to check that one out, but I will absolutely be back one day to check that one out as well. Happy Hiking!!

    Jim

    • southjerseytrails
      June 25, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Sorry to hear that! Cold Springs is definitely a mess right now. It’s currently cut off from Black Run Preserves main trail system, but they are working to fundraise to build a bridge to reconnect it all together again. You are right about the Black Trail going right up to the Cold Run Preserve.

      The colors are also goofy at Black Run because they’ve added new trails and are redoing the color systems so that the map and blazes don’t always line up. It’ll be great when it’s finished, but a bit confusing for now.

      Glad to hear you’ve been getting some exploring in!

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