I have no idea how this happened, but this terrible blog turns 3 years old today! My dream to write about local hiking trails while simultaneously assaulting readers with terrible puns and far too much hyperbole has been even more dream than I could have dreamed it would dream!
In celebration, the gang here at South Jersey Trails proudly offers 8 South Jersey Trails with Climbs! These hikes all have the rarest of all South Jersey hike features – elevation gain and loss. Now, remember, this is still South Jersey, so mute those expectations. Even the most impressive of these climbs (just under 400 feet… which is WAY more than the second most climb on this list) is what many folks in this country would term “going to the mailbox”.
Nevertheless. and without further eloquence (not that we’ve ever used any before)…
8 South Jersey Trails with Climbs (or at least Elevation Changes)!
We hike here all the time, as it’s mere minutes from our house. It’s a beautiful patch of woods nestled up against the train tracks, complete with small bridges, a tributary of the Cooper River, and resident beavers. It also contains a few sets of steps dropping you or lifting you a dozen feet at a time and a trail down to the river.
#7 – Breakback Run Trail – Wenonah Woods (West of Tracks) – Wenonah, Gloucester County, NJ – 1 mile (out-and-back)
Whoever named this stretch of creek/trail must have been carrying a baby on their back. Or at least “broke back” is how I felt along the majority of this trail. While no elevation gains or losses are significant, this trail feels like a roller coaster ride at times, continually raising and dropping you along most of its short length. Like all parts of the Wenonah Trail system, it’s beautiful.
With a name likes “bluffs”, you knew there had to be some elevation change. This trail climbs and drops down the bluffs a few times. Unblazed side trails lead even further down the bluff. Short trail, but fun!
If ever claims of elevation changes felt like cheating, this would be it. While you’ll need to climb and descend several times on the Walking Tour Trail, and climb and descend once on the Parados Trail, even climb is up steps to the top of a man made part of this fortification complex that protected Philadelphia. Still, when desperately seeking hikes with elevation gain in South Jersey, you’ll take what you can get!
There is really only one climb on South Jersey’s most popular trail (maybe two if you come from the old radar complex), but what a climb it is. Up, up, up to one of the area’s highest points, with a view of far off Philadelphia from the top.
One of my favorite hikes in South Jersey is this 8 miles (round trip) from the Carranza Memorial to Apple Pie Hill and back. While featuring history (the Carranza Memorial), rushing water (Skit Branch), and some nice swamps, the highlight of this hike is climbing the wildly misnamed Mount Korbar (also labeled Tea Time Hill), which is far from a mountain, and (shortly after), Apple Pie Hill. After the steep climb up Apple Pie Hill, you can go for more climbing – up the fire tower there for a fantastic view that, on a clear day, can include both Philadelphia’s and Atlantic City’s skylines. Then, you get to climb Mt. Korbar on the way back too!
#2 – Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain – Titusville, Mercer County, NJ – 4 1/2 miles (longer trips possible on this trail system)
Easily the biggest climb on this list, Baldpate Mountain in Titusville features a 400 foot climb, yet is just minutes from Trenton. I honestly never would have believed it if I hadn’t hiked it myself! The climb is rocky (unheard of in South Jersey) and fairly steep in spots. There is a great view (and some picnic tables) at the top. Excellent way to spend a day!
This was also the day I realized how crazy my kid was, as The Pres did 4 1/2 miles here, including 600+ feet of elevation gain. Oh, and he had just turned two that week. It’s not that I didn’t have the baby pack to carry him in, it’s just that wouldn’t have anything to do with it and insisted on hiking!
#1 – Maurice River Bluffs Preserve – Millville, NJ – 3.5 to 5 miles
Wait, so how does a hike without even a 100′ climb beat out Baldpate Mountain? SWITCHBACKS! Yes, Maurice River Preserve has a spot so steep that it needs switchbacks. Okay, so Baldpate Mountain also has switchbacks (OH MY GOSH – SWITCHBACKS!) to help you up or down the slope, but I found Maurice River more punishing a hike. There are no steep, grand climbs, but rather a roller coasters of small ups and downs (especially in the southern end of the park) that keep you heading up and down and up and down. The northern end features a bigger, but solitary, climb to the top of the bluffs, where a picnic table waits for you to sit down and have a snack. Which is totally what what we did there.
I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who reads and follows this dumb blog! While I totally started this for my own amusement (I am very easily amused), I have been blown away by the response it’s gotten over the last three years – 270,000 page views, 100,000+ unique visitors, and 100 e-mail subscribers! The Facebook has gathered over 1000 followers and the Instagram has gathered 100 more (in only 2 1/2 months… I’m fashionably late to the game)!
As we head into our fourth year, I promise even more terrible puns and even more overdone hyperbole! Thanks for coming along for the adventure.
Mike, Alix, The Pres, and Tree Rider