Stavola Beechwoods Preserve – Pemberton, Burlington County, NJ
Distance – about 1.6 miles (GPS crapped out on me)
Type – Lollipop trail.
Difficulty: 3 of 10 – a few blow downs that need stepping over. Trail unclear in a few spots.
Total score: 5 of 10
Posted -December 31, 2016
Terrain – woods and wetlands
Surface – crushed gravel, dirt.
Trailheads – 39°58’12.76″N, 74°41’8.55″W
Directions – 201 Hanover St, Pemberton, NJ (behind Clark’s Canoes)
Parking – 4 or 5 spots behind Clark’s Canoes.
Dog friendly? Yes.
Stroller friendly? No (blowdowns)
Benches? A few scattered on the trails.
Markings – None on rail trail, Yellow and White markers on the other trails
This was the final hike of my Day of Three Hikes (first being Smithville and the second being the the Pemberton Rail Trail). I’d already hiked the Pemberton Rail Trail that makes up part of this trail system, but after I got my car, I thought it would be silly to pass up on doing the hikes here too. So I parked the car and set off to check out the Stavola Beechwoods Preserve.
I set off down the trail, which begins by winding along the North Branch of the Rancocas Creek. I passed an old concrete ruin of some sort, the Beechwoods Preserve sign, a few small reminders of the railroad days, and arrived at the four way intersection.
At the four way intersection, there are four options. Left is where the railroad right-of-way is, but its not cleared. Don’t go that way. Right is the Pemberton Rail Trail South Branch. We’ll come back that way, but ignore it for now. Instead, you’ll be going straight, over the puddle, and onto the Yellow Trail.
Now the Rancocas Conservancy, who runs this preserve, is not always the best at keeping their trails clear and well marked. The Yellow Trail has a few small blow downs, but also many trail markers and evidence of people out there with chainsaws working hard to maintain the trail. The trail will head straight to the edge of the preserve, take a sharp right, and continue until it reaches a three way intersection.
At the intersection, you have two options. You can turn right to stay on the Yellow Trail OR you can go straight to get onto the White Trail. The White Trail is a loop of maybe 1/3 of a mile that will come around to rejoin the Yellow Trail.
In the spirit of documentation, I opted for the White Trail. It winds through a more open area than the Yellow Trail, looping around by a bench and then downhill, where I lost the trail for a moment, then regained it, before finally coming back to a T instersection with the Yellow Trail.
At this intersection, you can turn right and, within 60 seconds, be where you left the Yellow Trail. There is nothing exciting on this small stretch of trail.
Instead, turn left and follow the Yellow Trail down to the intersection with the Pemberton Rail Trail, which is also a short distance.
A left turn here takes you out of the Preserve almost immediately. If you opt for that, you need to switch over to our write up on The Pemberton Rail Trail. Having already done that trail less than an hour before, I opted to turn right. Here, my GPS crapped out, but it’s a straight shot down the Pemberton Rail Trail for less than 0.2 of a mile until you reach the four way intersection that we were already had. There is a nice view of the Rancocas on this stretch.
You’ll wind up at the four way intersection that you were at earlier. Just backtrack the way that you originally came, and you’ll end up back at the trailhead!
Once you hit the trailhead, poke around a bit. There are some nice views of the dam, and I managed to end up there at sunset, which made for some gorgeous lighting.
Nice views of Rancocas Creek, nice patch of woods.
Trail markers get a little tough to find in a spot or two.