Whitman’s Walk, Laurel Springs Borough Park – Laurel Springs, Camden County, NJ
Distance – 0.8 miles total (includes some out-and-back spots)
Type – web of trails
Difficulty: 1 of 10 – some small blow downs
Website – https://www.facebook.com/whitmanwalklaurelspringsnj/
Open – 7 AM to 7 PM
Terrain – creekside forest and swamp
Surface – Mostly boards, with a dirt section along the creek bank also available.
Trailheads – 39°49’1.84″N, 75° 0’13.91″W
Directions – Lakeview Ave and W Elma Ave, Laurel Springs, NJ
Parking – Streetside parking
Dog friendly? Yes, if leashed and cleaned up after.
Stroller friendly? A few blowdowns off the boardwalk would be annoying
Benches? TONS of benches to sit and enjoy nature
Standouts – Beautiful views of Timber Creek, Walt Whitman quotes along the boards.
Markings – None, but follow boardwalk or obvious trail tread.
I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on the South Jersey Trails Facebook group about the Whitman Walk near the old Crystal Spring in Laurel Springs, NJ. This spot was one of poet Walt Whitman’s favorite places, and he often would drink at the spring and bath in Timber Creek.
Just off the corner of Lakeview Ave and W Elma Ave, you can walk down the road-sized path down past the stone stack labeled “Crystal Spring”.
The trail drops down eight or ten feet in elevation into a flat area. Straight ahead is the trailhead sign. The spring is pretty much immediately to the right, but we saved that for later.
Now I wasn’t expecting a lot, but what we found was an intimate set of boardwalks along Big Timber Creek. Inscribed on some boards were lines of verse that Whitman had written while in the area or thinking of the area.
Now I’m not usually much one for poetry, but poetry inscribed in the trail itself? Let’s do this!
We quickly hit a four way intersection. To the right was a bench next to the creek.
To the straight or left was a loop along a further area of the creek, which also had a bench to sit and reflect at at its furthest point.
We reached the furthest bit of boardwalk along the creek, where there was another bench of sitting.
We then headed back along the loop to the original four way intersection.
We then headed back the way we had started, to the original “T” intersection. I figured this short trail was done, but we were delighted to discover that the boardwalk stretched a bit on the other direction. The trail followed the creek, went across a little mini-bridge, past a nice fishing spot comp, and reached a spot where the boardwalk ended.
Around here, the trail ran out. Or did it? No, just the boardwalk ran out! So we continued on along a dirt trail, which continued to follow the creek. Eventually, it ran up a small hill, where it seemed to head into someone’s yard. This is where we turned around.
We then headed back the way we came, returned to the boardwalk, crossed the little concrete arch, and made our way back to the only bit of boardwalk we hadn’t done.
Here, we turned left to cover the last bit of boardwalk. It went a short way and quickly turned right and went over a small bridge.
One more poem, and then we reached the old spring.
After a few minutes, we headed back up the small hill and got back in the car.
Beautiful boardwalk, pretty creek, little nooks to reflect in.
Not very long, houses visible along the creek for most of the trail.
Great quiet spot with lots of fishing opportunities along the way.
Would love for it to be longer.
Hi… I’m Mike and I am the foreman of the Laurel Springs Public Works. I placed all of that boardwalk and it was my idea for the Whitman quotes to be inscribed into to boards. I’d love to get more funding to purchase more boards for along the wet areas down by the spring. The trail area you mentioned as possibly going into a residence actually is a public area heading back to the street. There is also a dirt trail that heads about 2 more blocks along the creek and up to another street. Thanks for visiting!
Awesome! Thanks Mike for the hard work on his project, it’s great! We’ll head back and finish the trail soon!
I came from Wisconsin to attend a surprise birthday party in Laurel Springs. My hosts, knowing I was a huge Walt Whitman fan, took me to Whitman Walk on 10/1/17. I was so impressed by the beauty, and thrilled to be where Walt Whitman had been. The quotes enscribed on the boardwalk were a delight to me. It was so peaceful, and sitting on a bench I could understand why Walt Whitman loved it. So did I!
I'm sure Walt Whitman would have loved this place. Oh, he did. . ..
I'd like to see more boards. We went a few hundred more feet after the boards before it got too wet and dangerous because of the steep parts.
For what this is and what it represents it is super.
Thanks to both Mikes!
Hi Mike….those pilings you wondered about are the remains of a footbridge across the creek which I believe was built as a WPA project in the 30s. We used it to go back and forth to Garden Lake all the time. It was simply known to all as The Footbridge. It was heartbreaking to see it deteriorate and finally be dismantled. That path didn’t, as I remember, go into someone’s actual back yard but skirted it. It was more of a storm wash at the time…..50s through early 70s.