Blackwater Pond Park – Buena Borough, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance – Maybe 3 miles of trails, nearly all of which require backtracking. (we did 2 1/2 miles, and missed 1 1/2 miles of paved path)
Type – Web of out-and-backs
Difficulty: 3 of 10 – parts of trail a bit overgrown (Tree Rider tripped a lot). One section had a ton of blowdowns, but others showed alot of evidence of chainsaws clearing the way. No markers, so not 100% sure what was trail vs just a deer path
Website – Buena Parks & Rec
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Fields, woods, and swamp
Surface – Partially paved, partially dirt
Trailheads – 39°31’25.90″N, 74°57’51.33″W (this is the lot at the park itself)
39°31’22.63″N, 74°57’11.93″W (trailhead at Melini Park behind its baseball fields)
Directions -“Blackwater Pond Park is located on the west side of Brewster Road between Grove Road and Summer Avenue, Minotola.” It’s at about 356 South Brewster Road, Buena, NJ, but is AFTER you cross the paved trail that crosses the road.
Parking – Good size dirt lot. Was a little muddy after the rain.
Dog friendly? Unsure, no signs, did not see anyone there with dogs.
Stroller friendly? On paved sections, yes. On dirt sections, no (too much underfoot).
Benches? There were a pair of benches on one bridge. Did not see them anywhere else.
Facilities?: None where we hiked (Are bathrooms at Melini Park where the paved trail starts, but they lock so are likely not available most of the time except during baseball games).
Markings – A few, very faded. Paved trail does have mileage markers
It was the day of THE SUPER BOWL, and my kids had been bouncing off the walls for days, so we went for a little hike. I settled on Blackwater Pond Park, which I had just stumbled across the mention of that morning, and it sounded like a good one.
After some Google issues (Note: Google doesn’t take you to the parking lot of the park, not even close), we arrived ready to go. I bundled The Pres and Tree Rider up, and away we went.
The first part of the trail is a paved path. If we chose right, we’d have a mile and half (one way out and back) of pavement to follow with nice mileage markers. But the Buena Parks & Rec page said that there were four other trails here that WEREN’T paved, so we chose left instead to try to find these. Down the the pavement we went, curving around the field, until we found a pavement cul-de-sac with a trail leading off of it.
Now this was obviously a trail, but there were no blazes (the trails were colored according to the website, but the information was from 2012) and the trail had a bit of growth underfoot that kept tripping up Tree Rider, who is not the most graceful on his feet. It plowed through an area surrounded by scrub trees and brush, although the trail itself was pretty clear.
Once we passed this first trail intersection, it quickly transitioned to woods, and we soon hit another trail intersection. Here, we again opted to stay to the left, which kept us straight on the trail.
This trail was pretty much a straight shot now, and it carried all the way down to Blackwater Pond Creek. As we approached the creek, it became swampier. At the creek, a nice bridge that had taken some storm damage had been patched back together, so we went for it. Bridge was solid.
After cross the creek, we saw some evidence of ATVS, and quickly arrived at a fence bordering a farm field, which had an ATV sized hole in it. We *thought* we had seen a trail splitting off just before this, but it turned out to be a thorn filled deer track, so we came back and backtracked across the bridge to the last trail split we’d seen, the one in the woods.
Once at that split, we headed left.
This led past some beautiful cedar trees to another bridge, which crossed the same creek we’d previously crossed. The trail on the other side was only a minute or so until we reached another farm field.
We admired some ice in the field and a flock of geese flying over it, then turned to head back. On the way back, we found some faded blazes identifying this as the blue trail. We found one! Yay!
We then backtracked to the very first intersection that we’d seen and headed left on that, which brought us back up to the giant field we’d started in.
Once in the field, we had the option to go right and reconnect with where we’d left the pavement OR to go left and see what there was to see. So we went left, of course.
What there was was a long, straight path down to another farm field. We enjoyed the views and watched for birds down the length of the path. When we reached the farm field, we turned right to emerge in the open part of the field. I wasn’t sure if this was part of the park or not, but since I didn’t see any “No Tresspassing” signs, we cut across the big field to get back to where we started.
Here, we had the option of heading down the paved path the other way for another 1.6 miles (one way), but with 2 1/2 miles under our belts and the EAGLES IN THE SUPER BOWL, we started for home.
That night, magic.
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Some nice swamps and fields, which provide variety. Bridges are always great.
Trails not blazed, plus no map, which makes this a bit confusing. Also, some parts of the trail are in need of a trim.
Interesting hike — I think this one grabbed my attention because, while it seemed like yet another park I hadn’t heard of, I soon realized this wasn’t the case. I had actually visited this one back in May 2011, but I didn’t really get to see too much, as I was limited with time.
From what I understand, the trails (unpaved, that is) were built/maintained by a Boy Scout troop, but it must have been years before I went, because it seemed like the one trail I attempted had fallen into serious disrepair. There were faint yellow markings on the trail I attempted, and it seemed O.K. for a bit, but I quickly ran into serious overgrowth, and after maybe 0.1 miles at best, I encountered a downed tree, and sort of lost interest in the trail after that. (I probably also got ticks on me because of the overgrowth too!)
I remember the paved trail too, but I’m not sure if I remember mile markers. I think it also had a name: The Bluebird Trail; I may have looked on a website and found this out, because I don’t remember the trail being named either.
Thankfully, you and Pres and Tree Rider explored this one, and I can see that there are indeed other trails that are passable, along with the nice bridges and Blackwater Pond stream! Perhaps at some point I’ll be ready to give this one another go. Great job as always!
It seems (from their website) that the trails may have been overhauled in 2012. There is some evidence of maintenance (chainsaw cuts of trees blocking the one trail), mostly the trails just need some new blazes and some more folks to walk on them to wear out a clearer path for little feet (I had no problem walking, but my uncoordinated 3 year old kept tripping).
The big confusion to me is that there is no pond!