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Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve – Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance –  6 miles of trails total (we saw most of the preserve with a hike of 3 1/4 miles)
Type – Web of trails
Difficulty:  3 of 10
Total score: 8 of 10

Website – https://sites.google.com/site/ehtnatres/
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – forest, marsh, lakeside sand.
Surface – mostly dirt surfaces

Trailheads –  39°21’32.48″N,  74°39’4.46″W (parking lot on Zion Road)
39°21’41.77″N,  74°39’21.16″W (parking lot by nature center)

Directions – Nature Reserve Parking Lot, 318 Zion Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234

Parking – Large lot on Zion Road, another off of School House Road.ehtnaturereserveparking

Dog friendly? Yes, as long as on a leash.
Stroller friendly? If you have big tires, this should be manageable on several of the trails.
Benches? I don’t remember seeing any.
Facilities?: A port-a-potty in the parking lot.  Not sure if facilities are available at the nature center.

Markings – None official, but someone put tape up on the various trails recently, which was helpful.  With the web of trails, it would be really great if they officially blazed the trails and had a color-coded trail map.
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Map – A whole slew of maps and GPS tracks are available here.. There is also a sweet smart map, complete with embeded videos, found here
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Description – So last month, the Wife had work Saturday morning, so The Pres, Tree Rider, and I set out for a day of adventuring.  Our goal for the day was the Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve, which I’d stumbled upon a few years ago while trying to drive from Ocean City in a blizzard (long story).  A glance from the trailhead told me that I had to come back here someday and hike here, and this was the day!

To start, the trails here are only unofficially blazed (and that was a recent job), and are a vast web, so it’s a good idea to either leave a lot of time, or to download a handy, dandy GPS app for your phone to keep track of where you are.

Anyway, enough with all that, let’s reserve some nature!




We headed in from the parking lot on Zion Road, heading right and taking the trail along the rim of the lake area.  You can tell its a good sized drop to the bottom, because the reserve has a designated sledding hill (complete with steps to help you get back up) that, from all reports, is awesome.

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Sledding hill.

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Handy, dandy steps to get back up the hill.

At this point, we took a sharp right turn to check out the woods side of the park first.  We headed down the trail and quickly lost sight of the large, manmade lake.  On the map, this would be the first right that you can make.

The trail looped around, and we headed due north until the trail hit a “T” intersection.  There, we turned left and soon found ourself peeking through the trees back out at the lake again.

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Turning left to continue on the trail.

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Due north.

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Making a left turn.

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An old tree stand.

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Big group of birds floating out in the lake.

We headed back into the woods, meandering through the web of trails until we hit the powerline cut, which separates the main part of the park from a little offshoot north of the power lines.

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Turn right, stay in the woods!

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Well, take a peak at the lake first.

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Tree stump.

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No idea exactly where we are at this point, just keep heading in the same direction until we reach the…

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power lines!

We opted to skip the part across the power line cut, instead turning left and walking along the power lines.  We turned left to get back into the woods, but managed to backtrack to where we’d already been, so we came back up to the powerline cut via a different trail.



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Right around here, we talked with a fellow for a minute or so who was out mountain biking.  After I posted a picture on the Facebook later, we realized we had bumped into each other earlier in the day, so hi John!

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Coming back up to the powerline cut.

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Back at the power lines.

Now I knew exactly where we were, so we headed left and walked down to where the power lines near the lake.  A jog in the trail put us on the back end of that lake, still up high on the rim.

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Trail jogs to the left to approach the rim of the bowl that the lake sits in.

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Along the edge of the bowl on the back end of the lake.

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Sometimes, I pretend to be a real nature blog.  Or photography blog.  Because if there is one thing this blog needs, its another chance to lose focus!

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We followed the rim about halfway down the back end, dodging a monster tree and checking out some old concrete pipes along the way.  Then we opted to drop down the steep slope to get a close up look at the lake.

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Monster tree!

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Monster… oh wait, that’s just The Pres.

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Never a bad excuse for a panorama shot.

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Dropping down to the floor of the bowl by the lake for a closer look.

Being by the side of the lake let us pick up the trail down there AND put us closer to the birds in the lake, which made The Pres really happy.  The lake is dotted with islands, some of which have large pipes on them, which makes for some interesting views.  From here on out, the trail wanders along the edge of the lake.  We went around the back corner, and made out way toward the the Nature Center, eventually arriving to some chunks of bog iron that are on the lakeside.

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Back end of the lake, by the power wires.

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Now on the side of the lake, walking away from the power lines and toward the nature center.

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Hemmed in by some steep sides along this stretch of trail.

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From here, we rounded the final corner and slowly climbed above the lake, arriving shortly back at the parking lot.  The total hike had been 3 1/4 miles, a good stretch of the legs.

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Sledding hill across the lake.

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Back end of the lake, almost back to the parking lot!

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Last stretch.

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Made it back!

 

Nearby – Estell Manor County Park is relatively nearby.

The Good

Beautiful views of the lake, great spot for birding

The Could Be Better

Trails are not blazed, which can be confusing

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8.0
Bottom Line

Despite the damp and the fog, this was a great hike. I loved the differences between the lake part of the hike and the forest, and both left plenty to look out for. There is also a short nature trail to the left of the lake that we didn’t get to, so really a bit of everything. This one will definitely make our top 10 for 2017.

8.0
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  • February 13, 2017 at 5:27 am

    I’ve never heard of this one. Thanks!! We’ll be checking it out soon.

    • February 13, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      It’s not particularly wild, but I liked the contrast of an area returning to wild with the large pipes pieces that have been left there.

      • March 2, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        You may also want to check out Cox Hall Creek WMA in the Villas. It’s an old golf course that has been converted to a WMA and managed by the State now. It has mostly paved paths, the old golf cart paths, and one short unpaved trail. It’s a neat place to see how the highly managed golf course is reverting back to a natural area.

  • Kathleen Coll
    February 13, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Beautiful, I hope this preserve is preserved for our children’s children that they may be able to enjoy and cherish the wonder and beauty of this land. 🌲💟🍃

  • Jim Kee
    March 15, 2017 at 7:12 am

    My favourite place to walk with River (my always leashed dog). We both love it there. Great pictures! There are a few benches on the trail by the nature center.

  • Jim Ryan
    April 10, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Well — I said I would get out here one day — and doggone it…today (4/9/17 to be exact), I did just that!! I believe I said it before, but thank you for this blog…still in amazement that someone not from this area knew about this neat park _when I didn’t_!

    Lovely lake (even if it is man-made) — nothing wrong with creating a habitat for birds & wildlife! (I saw a sign that said “Red Fox” on the “Smart Trail”, but unfortunately, I didn’t see an actual red fox. Maybe next time!!)

    One reason I came back to this particular blog entry (other than to comment) was to see if the temporary trail markers were up back then — looks like they were! If I were retired, I swear I would volunteer my time to put permanent blazes on the trails (and perhaps color-code the existing map to reflect the colors!) I explored a great portion of the park; I noticed the orange markers seemed to be all over the place! Not sure if it is one huge trail, or maybe just contains placeholders for different color markers in the future.

    I noticed the “Monster Tree” as well, but for some reason, didn’t get a picture of it. I guess I have seen this sort of thing on other trails in the past, so I didn’t feel the need to get a shot of it. But one thing I *did* get a shot of was along the Orange Trail, after making the first left turn and heading into the long “tree archway” — someone painted words on a few of the trees. I couldn’t make out what 2 of them were, but there was one that said “Insane” (tagged in red spray paint.) Not sure if I should have laughed, or been angry that some people have nothing better to do than deface a nice Nature Reserve.

    Anyway, I did about 7 miles overall (including some “repeat” walks in some areas, but there is *so* much to see, it’s amazing!)

    O.K. — enough rambling…just excited to be able to finally get out to this wonderful nature reserve that you highlighted in your blog! Looking forward to future adventures from you, The Pres and Tree Rider!

    — Jim

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