Hammonton Creek Wildlife Management Area (Amatol) – Mullica Township, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance – 1.6 miles total
Type – Loop-ish
Difficulty: 2 of 10
Website – None
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – woods
Surface – sand
Trailheads – 39°36’9.80″N, 74°44’46.42″W
Directions – Located on Moss Mill Road, near the intersection of Burdick Ave in Mullica Township, NJ
Parking – Roadside parking
Dog friendly? Unsure
Stroller friendly? No
Standouts – the history
Markings – None
Image from njpinebarrens.com showing the line between public and private property:
A few dirt paths off of a fairly empty road near Hammonton lead to a fairly uneventful loop through the pine barrens. Typical scenery. Lots of pitch pines. Don’t walk in the puddles. Why is Mike reviewing this?
Because this patch of land has an amazing history.
During World War I, a massive ammunition company built its factories and company town in the area. Part of the factory area was located in what is now the Hammonton Creek WMA (sadly, the town site is completely on private property). However, the town didn’t last long, and was completely torn down after the war.
A few years later, the Atlantic City Motor Speedway, a 1 1/2 mile elevated board track (yep, made of wooden planks) was built here for car racing. Races were held here for only a few years (Most of this loop is located within the public land of the WMA, although a part is on private land. Be cool, don’t trespass.
Our hike this day was to walk as much of the track as we could. The Pres and I took one of the splits from Moss Mill Road and hiked into the loop.
We turned left to follow the loop, going around the curve and as far along the straightaway as we could until we hit the private property.
We then backtracked a short ways to a cut through trail, which took us back to the front section, which we could then use to finish walking the part of the racing loop we’re allowed to.
Looking at pictures of the racetrack, it’s absolutely amazing the change in this area from the track pictures to now. Absolutely amazing.
To be blown away, check out the links and youtube video at the bottom of this review. To be more blown away, stand on the track oval and THEN watch the video. Just imagine the cars racing as tens of thousands cheered. All. Right. Here.
This was my FIFTH attempt to hike this loop over the last 14 years, so I was pretty excited to make it happen. Lots of other old dirt roads to explore in this WMA, as well as the remains of some of the factory buildings, so we’ll have to come back and poke around some more.
Nearby: Hammonton Lake Park/Smith Conservation Area are nearby and a nice little hike.
Further reading with sweet pictures:
McKelvey, Wallace. “Mullica Township ghost town Amatol was once munitions village.” Press of Atlantic City. December 16, 2013.
“Amatol reports and mapping.” njpinebarrens.com.
“Harry Hartz Wins The First Atlantic City Board Track Race.” theoldmotor.com. February 20, 2015.
“Atlantic City Speedway.” speedwayandroadracehistory.com.
And most amazing of all, British footage of the first race held there:
History, history, history, and also I love pitch pines.
At face value, there isn't a ton here, it'll take some exploring to find the really great stuff, like wild flowers, fence lizards, and evidence from the 1910s and 1920s.