Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve – Woodland Township, NJ


Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve – Woodland Township, Burlington County, NJ
Distance – 13 miles of trails (we did 5 1/2 miles of hiking here, including some backtracking on trails when necessary.  ANY hike here will require at least some backtracking to complete loops or to get back to trailheads)
Type – Web of trails
Difficulty:  3 of 10 – downed trees near the intersection of the Yellow  and Green Trails were tricky, but the rest of the trails were pretty easy
Total score:  6 of 10

Website – njconservation.org
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – pinelands, swamps, and spungs!

Trailheads –  Official – 39°51’49.80″N,  74°36’40.95″W
There also may be trailheads on Soutside Fire Road (parallel to Rt 70) close to the 70/72 Circle, and also there seems to be a 0.6 of a mile sand road outside the preserve that runs over to Route 72 across from Brendan Bryne State Forest, between the Headquarters Road and the circle.

Directions – Located on the north side of Sooy Place Road, very close to the intersection of Johnson Place Road, in Woodland Township.

Parking – Roadside parking (no lot)

Dog friendly? Yes (or at least nothing posted against it on their website or at the trailhead)
Stroller friendly? Sandy, so might be tough to negotiate with a stroller
Benches? No benches

Markings – Painted or plastic markers on trees.

Map – Current map on njconservation.org
f for some reason that it’s not working, here is the trailmap (as of 8/20/16):

Track for our hike.

Quick trail descriptions:


Description – Somehow, some way, I managed to leave the greatest state in the nation (South Jersey) for six whole weeks this summer.  Now, I love gorgeous mountain views, grizzly bears, bison, and prairie dogs as much as the next guy (all things a bit scarce in South Jersey), but I simply can’t go too long without pitch pines and Atlantic white cedar.  Simply put, I was dying to get back to the pine barrens.

In steps Kelly, (who runs a hiking group I’m in, but hadn’t managed to hike with yet) who wanted a Wednesday hike.  Hey, presto, pine barrens hike at the Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve in Woodland Township with the family and a new friend.

This New Jersey Conversation Foundation preserve was just what I had been hoping for – a slice of pine barrens.  We hiked up the White Trail (which acts as a spine for the system, connecting all of the other trails with each other) for it’s short 1/4 mile entrance into the preserve, then turned right to take the Blue Trail.

White Trail as you enter the preserve.  Goes almost without saying that this was an old road.


Taking a right onto the Blue Trail, which starts off looking more trail-ish.

For about 1/3 of a mile, the Blue Trail winds through typical pitch pine territory, which was just what I was looking for.

The trail then takes a hard left (it looks like a curve on the map, but it’s really more of a turn.  You aren’t supposed to go right here) onto what was also a road at some point.  The trail will travel another 1/3 of a mile until it splits, with the Blue Trail going left (joining the White Trail) to loop back around to the start, or to the right, taking the White Trail deeper into the preserve.

The Blue Trail after the left turn, when it becomes obviously an old road.
The day is warming up.
Track for our hike.
Split in the trail.  Left is the rest of the Blue Loop (it is also the White Trail that we left earlier), right is also the White Trail, which is a spur deeper into the preserve.

Being only 0.8 miles in, we opted for more adventure (of course)!  We took continued on the White Trail, past the bright red gate, and over the bridge.  Afterwards, the trail goes through the typical forest terrain we’d been seeing, then turned a bit swampier.  We followed until we hit the intersection with the Yellow Trail, 0.4 of a mile from the split.

Split.  We headed right on the White Trail.
You can scootch around the gate on the right side, which will put you on the bridge.


Checking the stream for anything good!
Forest, then suddenly…


We then turned left onto the Yellow Trail.

The Yellow Trail isn’t very spectacular, it seems to have been built largely as a connection for the Green and Red Trails.  It narrowed down to normal trail size, and definitely wasn’t an old woods road.  After a half mile, it connects with a Green Trail spur that connects to the Green Trail loop.


Old tree stand.


Making a new friend.
Split!  The Yellow Trail continued right for another 0.3 miles until it meets back up with the White Trail.  We opted for left, on a short spur to the Green Trail loop.

After joining the Green Trail spur, we immediately crossed a stream on a little bridge.  This is where the here-to wonderfully kept trail system quickly went wrong.  There were several down trees, the markers got a bit hard to find, and you had to bushwhack around fallen trees to figure out where you were going.  We poked around, figured out which way to go, found an old washed out bridge (pretty good consolation prize),  and found where the Green Trail could go right or left.  We opted for right toward  a spung marked on the map.


Fun times.
Washed out bridge!


Around the blow downs and back on the trail.
Where the Green Trail splits to start its loop.  The Green Loop is 3 miles total (including where it overlaps with the Red Trail).

Once on the loop part of the trail, the hiking became easy again.  We flew the 0.3 miles down to where the Green Trail intersected with the White Trail.  The Green Trail turned left to follow the White Trail for about a hundred feet, then immediately left the White Trail to turn right into the woods.  Here, we met another frog.

Where the White Trail and Green Trail overlap.


After the turn, we followed the Green Trail up to where it intersected with the Red Trail, another 0.6 miles (including a left turn at one point).  Here, the spung was off the trail to the left, but sadly, we couldn’t really see anything.  Oh well.  2.8 miles into our day, we stopped for a rest and a snack.

Green Trail after the turn.
Track for our hike.
Break and a snack!

It was hot and late at this point, so we decided to call it a hike and start heading back.  We backtracked down the Green Trail to it’s intersection with the White Trail, turned left onto the White Trail, and this time continued straight when the Green Trail split off (staying on the White Trail).  Our immediate reward was a gigantic puddle!  Luckily, there was a bridge to the right to go around it.


Another half mile of the White Trail brought us back to where we had left it to take the Yellow Trail earlier in our hike.  We continued straight, back onto the stretch of White Trail that led to the bridge and the red gate.

We recrossed the bridge, went around the gate, and at the intersection of the White and Blue Trails, opted to head right to stay on the White Trail/Blue Trail overlap (avoiding the part of the Blue Trail that we had taken on the way into the preserve).  After a third of a mile, the Blue Trail went off to the right, but we stayed on the White Trail.  0.2 of a mile further on, the White Trail crosses the Blue Trail again (this is where our first turn of the hike had been), before taking the 0.2 mile spur back out to the cars.

Blue/White Trail overlap, after the bridge and red gate.
The Blue Trail turns right, the White Trail goes straight.  We stayed straight here.
Last few hundred feet of our hike.

Sound a bit confusing?  A bit, but a copy of the map and well blazed and marked trails (except for the downed tree section) make this one not too difficult to follow if you keep an eye on the map.

We said goodbye to our new friend Kelly, hopped into AIR CONDITIONING, and headed off to find some Jersey corn.  Good hike!

Big thank you to Kelly for helping get us out in the woods, and for being super awesome to The Pres and Tree Rider!

5 thoughts on “Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve – Woodland Township, NJ

  1. Excellent choice for a hike! I hiked at this preserve a little over 2 years ago; the trail map changed a bit, as there was no Blue Trail back then. (Actually, the trail itself existed; however, it was actually part of the Green Trail.) Also, I see that the (present-day) Yellow Trail was also once part of the Green Trail. (The original Yellow Trail was a simple 0.3-mile connector Trail from White to Green, and was on the other side of Gum Spring; this is now part of the Green Trail.) There was also a section of the Green Trail which connected the old Yellow Trail to what is now the Blue Trail, but I think this section was closed even back when I was at the preserve, and it appears that it is now non-existent. (I think this may be close to where the washed-out bridge is.)

    Interesting how one still has to use the “makeshift” bridge around that puddle area…wonder if a “real” bridge (over the puddle) will ever be built? 🙂

    Anyway, it appears that the White and Red Trails are still in their original design; I hiked on the left loop of the Red Trail, and got out to the spung; it’s an interesting little area. I think there was a bench where that section of the trail dead-ended, and I took my snack break there. Very peaceful!

    It would be interesting to hike the Red Trail in the section that has the sand road to Brendan T. Byrne SF — I wonder if the road/trail was part of the old Batona Trail (i.e. before the relocation 4 years ago into Franklin Parker Preserve.)

    Well — I’m glad you & the family got back to the Pine Barrens, and that this hike certainly didn’t disappoint! Looking forward to your next adventure!

    — Jim

  2. Was definitely a fun one!

    I found an older map originally (think I had an old link from when I put together the future hikes list a few years ago), I think the reorganization of the trail system makes it a whole lot clearer where you are!

    The makeshift bridge had chicken wire on it, so I think its pretty permanent at this point.

    I don’t think the connector with Brendan Bryne was part of the Batona, I remember the “trail” as you got close to 72 being miles and miles of paved road walking, and it still came out about the same spot on 72 as it does now, which would have been a few miles further south on Route 72. Man, I hated that stupid roadwalk.

  3. Totally agree with you on the reorganization of the trails; the loops are more clearly defined, and seem to have less overlapping (i.e. the Green Trail is now totally North of the Blue & Yellow loops.)

    Yeah, I guess I’d have to agree with you on the “Chicken Wire Bridge”; looks like it’s going to be permanent. Perhaps the trail designer(s) didn’t anticipate the flooded area as being something that is simply there for the long haul!

    Thanks for the info on the BTB connector…looking again at the map, it does seem like the connector is further up Route 72 than where the original Batona came out. Heh — not a fan of the road walk, eh? Yeah, I guess I’m not either, but at least it went by a cranberry bog at one point, so at least there was a little “scenery”. It kind of reminded me of walking on the Conestoga Trail (Lancaster County, PA), which has many road walk portions — but I digress!

    Anyway, can’t wait to see where you & the family hike next! 🙂


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