4

cattusislandheader

Cattus Island Park – Toms River, Ocean County, NJ
Distance – 7 miles of trails, but getting to some will require backtracking, so distances covered will be longer than listed trail distances. (we did 4.5 miles total just doing the Blue and Orange trails and the road connecting them)
Type – Series of loop trails.
Difficulty: 1 of 10 (and should always be easy, just as long as you prepare for bugs and direct sunlight in the warmer months)
Total score: 10 of 10
Reviewed: 12/29/16

Website – Ocean County Parks
Facebook – Cattus Island Facebook
Open – Dawn to dusk.

Terrain – woodlands and swamps
Surface – various natural surfaces, plus packed dirt on the road.

Trailheads – 39°58’58.57″N, 74° 7’42.43″W (next to Nature Center)

cattusislandtrailheadparkinglto

Edge of the parking lot.  A short walk up the road puts you at the trailheads.

Directions – 1170 Cattus Island Boulevard, Toms River, NJ 08753

Parking – Large parking area by the Cooper Environmental Center.

Dog friendly? Yes, keep on leash and pick up after them
Stroller friendly? Yes, if you have an offroad stroller
Benches? Yes, benches scattered throughout the trail system
Facilities?: Port-a-potties, but I believe there are real bathrooms in the Nature Center that will be opening after renovations very, very, very soon.cattusislandbathrooms

Markings – Painted blazes for each trail, well marked.
cattusislandblaze

Map – Can be found here

cattusislandmap

Description –




When I started this blog 93 years ago, I started to get suggestions for great trails pretty quick.  One of the earliest suggestions that I got was Cattus Island.  Two weeks ago, I had a day off from work, so The Pres and I finally, finally, finally made it happen.

Toms River is a good ways from us, but we got here around 11 AM.  The Nature Center is closed for renovations (should be reopening any week now), so we walked down the road, past the Visitor’s Center, past the trailhead for the Red Trail, and into the marshes.

cattusisland001

Red Trail trailhead.  Not today folks.

cattusislandnaturecenter

Soon to be reopened Nature Center.

We headed down the road (closed to traffic) so that we could reach the Blue Trail.  I stopped to take so many pictures in the marshes that it took us a while to go the short distance to the trail.

cattusisland002

Down the road I (we) go.

cattusisland003
cattusisland004

cattusisland005

Osprey nest in the distance.

O

cattusisland006

Road goes straight, but we turn left onto the Blue Trail.

Here, we turn onto the 2.2 mike Blue Trail, which is a loop.  The Blue Trail isn’t much at first, just a path through the woods within sight of the road.



cattusisland007

Start of the Blue Trail.

cattusisland008
cattusisland009
But as soon as you get away from the road, you start to hit views of Silver Bay.  Already, I was thrilled with this hike.

cattusisland010
cattusisland011
cattusisland012

And from there, it only gets better.  The trail weaves through reeds and forests, passes a bird blind, and then reaches the first trail junction.

cattusisland013

Because history.

cattusisland014

Bird blind.

cattusisland015

Looking for birds.

cattusisland016

And we found one!

cattusisland017
cattusisland018
cattusisland019
cattusisland020

cattusisland021

First trail junction.



The first trail junction is simply a junction of the Blue Trail with the Blue Trail.  The right branch (the Cedar Line Shortcut) makes for a shorter loop of the Blue Trail, and is for bikes, who can’t continue on the boardwalks ahead.  The left branch makes for a longer loop and is for hikers only.  You will cheat yourself if you don’t choose left, so totally choose left.  This will carry you through some reeds and more woods until you hit the boardwalk section of the Blue Trial.

cattusisland022
cattusisland023
cattusisland024

cattusisland025

Boardwalk!

The boardwalk is the best part of the Blue Trail.  It will carry you through the marshes, with a few places offering amazing views of Silver Bay.  You will leave the boardwalk a few times in this section, but a new boardwalk will soon start up again.

cattusisland026

The Pres is happy with this hike so far.

cattusisland027

Daddy too.

cattusisland028

Bench with a view.

cattusisland029
cattusisland030
cattusisland031
cattusisland032
cattusisland033
cattusisland034

When the boardwalks run out, you’ll hit the road again, which bisects the Blue Trail.  Here, we opted to get off of the Blue Trail (don’t worry, we’ll be back) and turn left to walk up the road until we ran out of road.  As it was before, this stretch had some wonderful marsh views.  There were also a bunch of osprey nests, which must be great when its the right season and not December.



cattusisland035
cattusisland036
cattusisland037
cattusisland038

cattusisland039

End of the road in view.

At the end of the road is nice little picnic area.  There was also a small beach, so we stepped out to take in the views.  It was then that we noticed that there were a series of benches going up the beach.  You didn’t have to ask us twice, so we hiked our way up the beach until we reached the furthest point, which offered great views of Barnegat Bay.  Across the water stood Dover Beaches North.

cattusisland040

Picnic area.

cattusisland041

Benches are an Eagle Project.  Well done Nicolas Berardi.

cattusisland042

cattusisland044

Up the beach!

cattusisland045

End of the beach.

cattusisland046

The Pres is still having a good time.

What a view.  At this point (ha!), there was nothing to do but backtrack down the beach, so we did.

cattusisland047
cattusisland048

cattusisland049

It didn’t look nice out, but we weren’t rained on at all.  Beautiful day.

cattusisland050
cattusisland051
We were all ready to head back up the road when we noticed a pair of ladies and a dog coming off of the Orange Trail that started next to the picnic area.  I had thought I had read that it was closed due to storm damage, but I hadn’t checked the park’s webpage for almost two months (note: always check the website before heading to the trail), so I thought that maybe they knew something that I didn’t.  There hadn’t been any closed signs at the parking lot (other than the Nature Center) and we didn’t see any signs at the trailhead.

Anyhow, we were here now, so we decided to try the 3/4 of a mile Orange Trail and see how it went.  If the trail was supposed to be closed, we sincerely apologize.

This trail (featuring a much repaired boardwalk) led over to a place dubbed Scout Island, which has been the recipient of many an Eagle Project from the Boy Scouts of America, especially Troop 1 of Toms River and Troop 32.

cattusisland052

Trailhead for the Orange Trail.

cattusisland053

cattusisland054

Across the marsh.

cattusisland055
cattusisland056

cattusisland057

Now arriving at…

cattusisland075


Scout Island!

Once on the island, the trail simply loops back around to the boardwalk that leads across the marsh.  You are in the furthest reaches of the park into the bay, so the views are great.  The trail is nearly entirely made of boardwalk.  Many pictures were taken.

cattusisland058

Heading right as you get onto the island.

cattusisland059

cattusisland060

Marsh tree.

cattusisland061
cattusisland062
cattusisland063
cattusisland064
cattusisland065
cattusisland066
cattusisland067
cattusisland068
cattusisland069
cattusisland070
cattusisland071
cattusisland072
cattusisland073
cattusisland074
Once around, you backtrack on the boardwalk across the marsh and reach the picnic area again.  The it’s back down the road through the marshland until you reach where we left the Blue Trail.

cattusisland076
cattusisland077

Here, we turned left onto the Blue Trail to finish up our loop.  The second part of the Blue Trail loop is longer and slightly less scenic, but offers more woodsie terrain.  We walked until we reached the other end of the Cedar Line Short Cut.

cattusisland078

The Pres is now riding a horse for some reason.

cattusisland079
cattusisland080

cattusisland081

The most interesting part of this section is an area that burned at one point.

cattusisland082

Bird blind #2.

cattusisland083

Junction with the short cut.

After the short cut, it’s another stretch until the road is reached once again.  There’s another bird blind in this stretch that looks back on the Nature Center.

cattusisland084
cattusisland085
cattusisland086
cattusisland087
cattusisland088

cattusisland089

Final stretch of boardwalk.

cattusisland090

cattusisland091

The road!

When you reach the road, the Blue Trail actually crosses it, the hangs a left to parallel the road.  Within a few hundred yards, the Blue Trail will end on the road a short ways above where we first got on it.

cattusisland092

cattusisland093

End of Blue Trail in sight!

The Blue Trail will put you back on the road in the direction that you want to head.  You’ll go back on the road through the marshes and up to where the nature center is located.

cattusisland094
cattusisland095

At this point, we’d done 4 1/2 miles (the trail distances are misleading, as there are road walks to the various trailheads).  We were by the Nature Center, next to the trailhead for the 1.7 mile red Maritime Forest Loop.  I left it up to The Pres if he wanted to keep going or to start on our 1 1/2 hour ride home, and he opted to head home.  4 1/2 miles being a good stretch of the legs, we walked back to the car and hopped in to head for home.

Nearby: The Ocean County Park system is amazing.  If you need more hiking after this, Jakes Branch County Park is about 20 minutes away and Wells Mills County Park is a half hour away. This is also about as close as your going to get (30 minutes drive) to Island Beach State Park, which we haven’t managed to get to yet.

The Good

Beautiful marsh views, wonderful boardwalks, birding

The Could Be Better

Bugs have to be ridiculously awful certain times of the year.

Ratings
Mike's Review
Your Reviews
Rate Here
Rating
10
Bottom Line

I gave it a 10 out of 10, what do you think I think of it? This park is an absolute gem, and a great credit to the Ocean County Park System. We loved every second of hiking it, and someday hope to get back to try the Red and Yellow Trails. this was worth every second of the 3 hour round trip to get here, and is worth coming from any part of New Jersey to come hike.

10
Mike's Review
Your Reviews
You have rated this
About The Author
southjerseytrails
  • Jim Ryan
    December 30, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Excellent choice! I have been to this park a couple times, and have seen all the trails. Actually, I believe the Orange Trail was closed as of 2 years ago, but it’s nice to see it’s been reopened! (I did get a chance to hike it back in June 2010; it still looks as beautiful as it did then! Of course, it looks even better with foliage!) Excellent pix of Silver Bay as well — I never get tired of getting glimpses of that!

    I would definitely return there when you can, and I can tell you — the Red and Yellow trails are equally as gorgeous as the Blue and Orange trails. (Honest opinion…I think I may actually favor Red & Yellow over Blue & Orange, but I’ll let you & The Pres be your own judges.) But no matter what — you are in for a real treat!

    Like you said, the park (over all) is a *definite* 10/10! As always, thank you for the pix, and I look forward to your next adventure. Happy Hiking!

  • Matt Robb
    December 30, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Beautiful photos. I’m always a sucker for a gray autumn/winter sky.

Leave a Response

Rating