Oldman’s Creek Preserve – Auburn, Salem County, NJ
Distance – 2 miles total (includes backtracking… oh so much backtracking)
Type – Series of out-and-backs
Difficulty: 2 of 10 – few muddy spots to navigate and a few small hills
Website – Oldman’s Creek Preserve
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Forest and some swamp
Surface – Pavement to dirt pack to mud to grass
Trailheads – 39°42’52.17″N, 75°21’54.26″W
Directions – 21 Main Street, Swedesboro, NJ 08085 (not sure why the Swedesboro mailing address)
Parking – Small lot
Dog friendly? Dogs are allowed with a leash.
Stroller friendly? Some rough hills on the trails for strollers
Benches? A few scattered on the trails
After we were in the Philadelphia Inquirer (that’s still so bizzare to type), I got a really nice email from Phil Arsenault of the South Jersey Land and Water Trust telling me I should check out their preserve down in Swedesboro/Auburn. So we did!
The preserve is awesome from the moment that you get there, because there’s Gideon Scull house from about 1790 right next the parking lot, which serves as the headquarters for the South Jersey Land and Water Trust.
This trail was heavily shaded and had some really great trees. The trail dropped down to a small brook that we crossed on a few pieces of wood, then crossed a small wet area that Tree Rider wasn’t to thrilled about. Then it was up a hill to a bench in the woods. Shortly past this bench, the trail dead ends. I do love that the end of trails here are NOT subtle what-so-ever.
At the time, we then backtrack to the road, but now a loop trail has been built (blazed in green) that can loop you over to the other side of the preserve ending at point 10, the second of the old cabin remains.
But at the time, we had to head back to what would have been a right turn earlier (Point 4 on the map), going to the left of the picnic area (Point 5 on the map).
We headed down the hill on this Green Trail, but soon hit the intersection with the Purple Trail (which is on the map). So we hung a right onto the purple trail. This trail almost immediately split, with the Purple Trail heading right and the Yellow Trail heading left. We stayed right to stay on the Purple Trail.
The trail climbed a small hill and there we found the first remains of one of the old Boy Scout Camp cabins. It was pretty great.
We also found, just beyond this, another branch of the road from that original intersection. We headed left on this road and walked down it a minute or so, past the far junction for the Yellow Trail, and reached Oldmans Creek. Here, there are pretty views of the creek, and now a recently constructed dock (Point 12 on the map), which is great for your kayak or canoe or (as we saw last time we were here) stand up paddleboard. To float around here, you will need to carry your canoe/kayak down from the parking lot, which (if you look at the map, it’s not as bad as our little walk makes it seem).
After taking in the lake, we turned and headed just feet back up the old road to the Yellow Trail intersection (update – the Yellow Trail can now also take you back up to the barn by the preserve enterance). We turned right there and backtracked just above the creek to where it intersected with the Purple Trail (we’d already been at this intersection), then followed it back to the Green Trail.
Once at the Green Trail, we turned right to hit new territory. We walked past a swamp and reached the intersection of the Red Trail at the base of a small hill. For the moment, we stayed straight on the Green Trail, climbed a few stairs, and were at the remains of the second Boy Scout cabin (Point 10 on the map).
At the time, this cabin was the end of the Green Trail (as stated previously, it now loops through to the other side of the preserve, which is nice), so we went back down the steps and turned onto the Red Trail, yet another out-and-back trail. This trail dropped into a wet bit, but immediately climbed back up over the creek. It split (both sides of the split being Red), but this loop in the middle is very short lived and never gets more then a dozen feet from each other. The trails rejoin just before a bench.
Near this bench is the remains of an area with a lot of benches, then a sign that clearly let’s you know you’re at the end of the trail AND the back property line of the preserve.
So, like pretty much every trail here, we turned around and retraced out steps down the Red Trail, varying only to take the other side of the small loop on the trail, which takes you a bit closer to Oldman’s Creek.
Before we knew it, we were back at the Green Trail, where we turned left and passed the swamp again.
Since we had walked just about every inch of trail, for fun we took the Purple Trail again back to the very first cabin we’d seen, then turned right and walked up the only piece of road we hadn’t covered yet.
Then it was back up to the original intersection that everything splits from, where Tree Rider and I tried to fight the horse… swingset… whatever.
Finally, we stopped to admire some horses that were up against the fence on the walk back toward the cars.
This place is getting better all the time (trails being looped off, new fire pit, the boat dock), and we enjoy each time we come visit!
Old forest, pretty views of Oldmans Creek, the fun of looking for remains of the old Scout camp, variety of plants, and a lot of stuff packed into not very many miles of trail.
I wish there were more trails here! And maybe a loop at some point. But what is here, is great.