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: 2 of 10
Total score: 6 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
Directions – Trail is found at 196 Borton’s Mill Road in Marlton, NJ. This is right near the Union Mills Lake and close to the intersection with Tomilson Mill Road.
Standouts – Nice patches of woods, remains of old buildings, and beautiful bog area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
… but then found an old road route and headed for the wild woods.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overall recommendation – 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!
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.