8

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
Updated: 7/5/20

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

Sign at trailhead.

Trail starts next to sign.

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

Facilities?: None

Markings – Arrows at junctions.

Map –

Rules:

Description –

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.

From 1938 to 1967, this was a Boy Scout camp for the Cumberland County Council.  Keep an eye out for clues around the preserve that this was a Scout camp, plenty out there!  Then from 1968 until 2009, this was a family campground, before finally coming into the possession of the South Jersey Land and Water Trust.
So off we went down the trails!  We started down what was obviously the access road, which passed an old barn, the remains of a swingset (horse swingset?), a basketball court, and then splits into three directions (although we only noticed two directions at the time) (point 4 on the map!).

Down the old access road.

Past the barn.

Odd looking swingset

Right or left? There was also a sharp right that we didn’t spot until later.

We chose left, by which I mean the Pres chose left.  Almost immediately on the right was the Blue Trail, but for now we skipped it and kept walking down the old access road.  After a minute or two (seriously, it’s a tenth of a mile from the turn to the field), we arrived at a good sized open field filled with butterflies and dragonflies that is the end of this road (Point 7 on the map).

Good sized trees.

End of the line… a big ol’ field.

We spent a few minutes looking at birds and insects, we backtracked a short ways to the Blue Trail.

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.

Small bridge.

Pretty stream.

Small, muddy spot. Someone had to get lifted over.

Up the big hill.

Hiking in style today.

Not subtle at all.

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).

What wouldn’t realize for another fifteen minutes is that there is another trail off to the right there that heads down to the creek.

This part was marked green, even though there was no green trail on the map at the trailhead. It’s okay though, its just green and we’ll all deal with it.

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.

Right off the old road onto the Yellow Trail.

Back at the Yellow/Purple intersection, we turned right onto the Purple Trail and backtracked 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.

Cabin we were just at from the Red Trail.

Remains of another structure.

Bit of a wet spot.

Trail split. Both ways are Red, and they rejoin very shortly. We took the left split for now, and came back on the other side of the split.

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.

Purple again.

Cabin again.

Last bit of trail we haven’t done, almost back!

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.

Fight, fight, fight!

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!

Nearby: Lake Narraticon and the Tranquility Trail are each located nearby in Swedesboro.

The Good

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.

The Could Be Better

I wish there were more trails here! And maybe a loop at some point. But what is here, is great.

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Bottom Line

Short one, but a lot of fun with lots of interesting things to see. Very well done to the South Jersey Land & Water Trust on this one!

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  • Nesa Oswald
    August 9, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    So glad to see this post! This preserve is right around the corner from us and I’ve been wondering whether there were any trails there to walk with the kids.. We love our beautiful Salem County and its pretty farms and rolling hills, but it is frustrating that there don’t seem to be many public trails!

    • southjerseytrails
      August 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      I haven’t done as much exploring in Salem County as I’d like to, but of all the counties in South Jersey, it’s the one I seem to have the fewest hiking leads in! There are a few places, but outside of Parvin State Park and Fort Mott, not a ton of developed trails.

  • Anne Lillemor
    June 25, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I just took a small group of Cub Scout to this preserve and it was the perfect hike for them (not a single complaint from the boys)! Trails were easy to follow and maintained through lots of Eagle Scout projects, and we observed lots of insects, fish, and a few toads. Plus the old cabins kept their interest. It looked like a there were a couple new connecting trails that were added since your visit. Overall a very short hike but a good one for Salem County.

  • Jim Ryan
    October 8, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Hello Mike — finally made it out to this one today (Sun. 10/7). Nice little place; I almost got out here earlier this summer, but I was on limited time, and had gone to Tranquility Trails and Lake Narraticon (both courtesy of your blog, of course!)

    The first “difference” I noticed was that the sign (from the roadway) was down. Not that this stopped me from finding the preserve, mind you, but — like you — I like to get pictures of the signs of any park/preserve/trail I visit!

    Oh, well…not a biggie, I suppose. The trails were excellent, and I see what you meant regarding all the backtracking! Not too many loop trails, I guess, but a lot of out-and-back! One thing I did notice (and this may have been “updated” since you and the kids visited here last summer) is that the Green Trail goes past the Boy Scout ruins and loops back towards/ends at the Blue Trail. Perhaps the trail existed but was not marked as Green until recently?

    Loved the Purple and Yellow Trails, as they skirted the swamp/Oldman’s Creek (respectively). Had to laugh when I saw the “End of Trail” signs at the end of the Blue & Red Trails…I remember your words from the blog: “Not subtle at all”! Oh, and that “Horse Swingset” along the main trail connector — Unlike you and The Pres, *I* had to “fight” it all by *myself*! 🙂

    Anyway, as always, thank you for this wonderful blog; I think I lost count of how many parks/preserves/trails I visited this year thanks to it! (Think I lost count after about 5). But I can certainly add two more of the Cherry Hill Trails to my list as “complete”: Bunker Hill Trails and Cherry Valley Trails! (O.K. — I digressed a little, but to me, Oldmans Creek Preserve had a little of the Cherry Hills Trails in it.) It would also “fit in” with some of the parks in the Burlington County Parks System…more specifically, Crystal Lake Park — just had that sort of “feel” to it!

    O.K, — I’ll sign off now, with my final thought being: Cannot wait till you put out your “Best Hikes of 2018” series!

    Jim

  • Frank
    July 29, 2019 at 2:35 pm
    The Good

    Great on a hot day. Lots of shade

    The Could Be Better

    A few dead end trails.

    Thanks for the info on the nice little nature trail. Spent a couple;e of hours there and it was very enjoyable. Great site you’ve built.

  • Nesandra Oswald
    July 5, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Not sure why this trail is listed as being in Swedesboro, Gloucester County. I live near it.. The little town of Auburn, where the preserve is, is in Salem County. Oldman’s Creek, itself, represents the County line between Salem and Gloucester. Would just like to see our sleepy Salem County get full credit for this lovely preserve. 🙂

    • southjerseytrails
      July 5, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      I never realized this, but Google (including Google Maps) is wrong about where this is and you are definitely correct. Just updated the post to include the correct town and county, Salem County well deserves the credit!

  • Sam Zappala
    August 10, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Rt 551 s is closed; a bridge before OMC is to be replaced. To get to the park from Swedesbore; you’ve got to go through Pedrictown; so head w on 620. Go through Logan and head s on 601 (Pedricktown rd). Cross over OMC; next light rt 602; make a left. When you reach 551 make another left. You’ll pass the firehouse.

    From rt45 head south until you see the sign pointing to Auburn; head west. This is rt 660 (no sign). When this rd ends you’ll be on rt 636; go west. Cross over the njtp. Next intsec is rt 646; go n. Pass the firehouse.

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