Washington Lake Park – Sewell, Gloucester County, NJ
Distance: 2.5 miles of hiking on 9 hiking trails, 2.85 miles of additional paved jogging/walking trails. Unknown number of unmarked trails on the other side of the lake.
Type: Interconnected loops
Difficulty: 3 of 10 (brief water crossing, trails on the back end of the lake not nearly as well marked)
Total score: 7 of 10
Website – Washington Lake Park
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
*NOTE – to my readers who take their dogs hiking with them, there is a dog park located in the park (off the Greentree Road entrance according to loyal reader Roger), but dogs are not allowed on the rest of the trails.*
Terrain – meadows, ponds, and woods
Trailheads – 39°44’28.81″N, 75° 5’44.15″W. Plenty of other options, we started at Lot G to hit the Butterfly Trail first.
Directions – 626 Hurffville-Cross Keys Road, Sewell, NJ 08080
Standouts – koi pond, beautiful lake, beautiful swamp area with a bridge crossing it, butterfly garden.
Map – Beautiful map and brochure located here
If it won’t load for whatever reason, a not-as-nice version –
Benches – there are benches located throughout the paved trails of the park. There are more sporadic benches located along the dirt trails (especially in the butterfly garden and at the pond).
Description – In July 2015, during our “30 Hikes in 30 Days”, we headed for Washington Lake Park. The boys and I headed down nice and early, jumped out of the car, walked down the jogging path to the trailhead and…
A short walk quickly led us to realize that all of the hiking trails are closed due to storm damage. The paved jogging trails, however, were open, so we walked a mile around on them. This was enough to let us know that we have to come back and do the real trails…
March 2016, I dropped The Pres off at his weekly religious class. Tree Rider and I headed for Washington Lake Park, just a few miles down the road. It was the middle of a snowstorm, which made everything extra awesome. We set off down the paved trails from Lot G toward the Butterfly Trail.
We walked the short loop of that trail (0.1 total for the loop), but not surprisingly,there were few butterflies out enjoying the snowstorm.
We then headed down the Turkey Foot Trail and Coughlin Trail toward Cedar Pond (a total of about a quarter mile). Tree Rider and I were pretty excited to see the pond in the snow. Me because I wanted to see it in the snow, Tree Rider so he could point and yell “WATER!” a bunch of times.
When the Coughlin Trail ended, we hooked a left onto the Wildlife Trail, which within a dozen steps put us at Cedar Pond.
We were making good time, so we opted for the not particularly well labeled (labeled at all?) Sasafrass Trail that loops around the lake. When looking at the water from the dock, the trail heads right around the lake.
The most challenging part of the trails is found here, when you have to cross the outlet of the pond. There are stepping stones/logs, but I found it easier in my boots to just carefully walk across. The water came up to the top of of boots, but my waterproofing kept my feet nice and dry!
On the back end, trails head off in every direction, none of them really well marked. Tree Rider and I simply set our GPS point and set out wandering through various trails. The Sassafras Trail is 0.4 miles, which we covered, but we didn’t spot the connector with the Lakeside Trail that would taken us past Washington Lake. We did discovered some big fields and a way out to what I think was Dare Lane. We might not have been sure where we were, but we enjoyed the wandering.
Eventually, we wandered back to Cedar Lake, back over the spillway, and made it back to the trail intersection where we had been before spotting the lake.
We headed down the Stagecoach Trail this time, a half mile trail that loops down what is pretty much a dirt road around to behind the amphitheater. However, we did get off this trail and make a left onto the East Holly Trail.
Once on the East Holly Trail, we quickly hit a long concrete bridge over an area of swamp. This was my favorite part of the whole trail, because the swamp in the snow was just beautiful. Plus Tree Rider got to yell “WATER” a bunch more. The trail dead ended at the football fields on East Holly Avenue.
We had little desire to check out the football fields, so we turned around and headed back down the East Holly Trail.
We then finished up the Stagecoach Trail, which brought us behind the amphitheater. We opted to walk past the port-o-potties to the concrete walking paths that lead from the amphitheater to the koi pond.
Now, in the snow in the winter, the koi pond wasn’t much of anything.
But when we were here is July, it was nothing but ducks and koi and happiness for children. The Pres and Tree Rider loved both the duckies and the massive koi.
The park has more to offer though – we missed the Poplar Trail and the Lakeside Trail by Washington Lake.
There are also nice things along the regular paved walking paths:
- Trees are dedicated to town residents, which is a really nice touch.
- A beautiful memorial to the township police, including one who died in the line of duty.
- A sweet playground
- As stated in the beginning, a dog park area.
Overall recommendation – I initially had low expectations for a park filled with playing fields, and at the risk of having the snow overwhelm me, this park was totally awesome. The beautiful walk through the swamps on the East Holly Trail, the koi pond, and Cedar Pond make this one worth seeing.