Five years ago, I started a blog about hiking in South Jersey as an excuse to go exploring with my then one year old son. I expected maybe four people to ever read it, and that estimate included if my mom could figure out how to get to it to see pictures of her grandson (she hasn’t yet).
Five years (and two kids later), we’ve explored 166 trails in South Jersey and counting. We’ve made many new friends, been invited to part of some amazing experiences, and have had a total of ELEVEN people read our posts (okay, maybe more like fourteen people… wait, 700,000 hits so far!?).
So, in celebration of five years, we present the Top 20 Trails in South Jersey!
#20 – Taylor Farm Nature Preserve – Cinnaminson, NJ – about 4 miles of trails
Beautiful views of the Delaware River? A good look at the Philadelphia skyline? Tons of birds (including bald eagle sightings)? Woods, swamps, and a community garden? Beaver lodges? This is four miles of beautiful hiking on the only farm on the Delaware River between Camden and Trenton that, luckily for us, doubles as a nature preserve. Totally worth a visit.
#19 – Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve – Egg Harbor Township, NJ – 6 miles of trails
What happens when you take an old quarry and turn it into a town nature preserve? Amazing, that’s what happens. The trails looping through the pine trees are nice enough, but down by the lake is my favorite part. There, you can enjoy the birds that make this place home, while taking in the beautiful view of the lake under the embankments. Even the leftover concrete piping (with obligatory graffiti) feels picturesque here.
#18 – Wenonah Woods Trails (East of the Tracks and West of the Tracks) – Wenonah, NJ – 6 miles of trails
The town of Wenonah, NJ is only one square mile… but has 6 miles of trails. And what trails they are too, as they meander up and down along creeks around the edges of town. Sadly, some beavers moved in a flooded out part of the trail system. Wait, did I say sadly? I meant awesomely, because they (the town, not the beavers) built a brand new boardwalk over the flooded out section.
#17 – Oldman’s Creek Preserve – Swedesboro, NJ – 2 miles of trails
South Jersey Land and Water Trust does a lot of good work for nature across South Jersey, and many people participate in their guided hikes and their trail clean ups. But they also own a preserve in Swedesboro – Oldman’s Creek. At this old Boy Scout camp, you can explore miles of varied trails, take in the creek, and stumble across the remains of old cabins. Some nice swamp and big trees too!
#16 – Blueberry Hill Trail – Gibbsboro, NJ – 3+ miles of trails
In terms of visitors on our website, this is far and away the most popular trail. With beautiful (mostly paved) trails winding through a lovely patch of woods, why wouldn’t it be? The highlight for most is at the top of the hill, where the Philadelphia skyline can be seen in the distance.
#15 – Glades Wildlife Refuge – Dividing Creek, NJ – 5.7 miles of trails
Want to see a bald eagle? How about beautiful salt marshes? This place has plenty of both, plus beautiful stretches of forest and boardwalks over said marshes. Well worth the drive deep into Cumberland County.
#14 – Walking Tour trail and Parados Trail – Fort Mott State Park – Pennsville, NJ – 1.5 miles of trails
You won’t find much nature on these trails, but you’ll find a lot of climbing up and down steps. That’s because these two trails cover different sections of the fortifications at Fort Mott, built to defend Philadelphia from an attack up the Delaware River. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to see gun emplacements, magazines, and the workings of a well-designed coastal battery.
#13 – Swamp Trail – Estell Manor County Park – Estell Manor, NJ – 2 miles (with another 18 miles of trails in the park)
What’s even better than a boardwalk trail along a river that traverses swampland? A boardwalk trail along a river that traverses swampland AND passes by the remains of a World War I munitions plant. Estell Manor Park and it’s 20 miles of trails sits right smack on the location of the Bethlehem Loading Company, meaning you can enjoy nature while keeping a sharp lookout for the many remains that fill this park. The other side from the swamp trail includes a veteran’s cemetery, the remains of the old Estellville Glassworks, and some picnic areas and playgrounds.
#12 – Cloverdale Farm County Park – Barnegat Township, NJ – 1.4 mile nature trail
The shortest trail on our list, but a really pretty one. The nature trail here loops around and through the old cranberry bogs. The property includes most of the old farm buildings too!
#11 – Rancocas State Park – South of the Creek- Hainsport, NJ and North of the Creek (including the Rancocas Nature Center) – Westampton, NJ – 15+ miles of trails
Rancocas Creek State Park is a jewel of a place. The best part is that it comes in pieces for multiple adventures! Above the creek lies half the park (until recently the Rankokus Reservation of the Powhatan people) with miles and miles of walking trails. Also above the creek on the property is the Rancocas Nature Center with their own three miles of lovely trails, plus a great nature center and nature programs for people of all ages. Below Rancocas Creek (and not connected to the other half of the park by anything other than water) is the south section of the park, which includes eight miles of hiking trails along the banks of Rancocas Creek. Among the woods and swamps are the remains of sand mining operations and some old homestead sites.
#10 – Black Run Preserve – Marlton, NJ – 7+ miles of trails
This town park features an ever-expanding web of trails through old cranberry bogs. Lots of plants, birds, and animals to check out, and a variety of landscapes from swamps and wetlands to wide-open fields! One of our favorite spots!
#9 – Mt Misery Trail – New Lisbon, NJ – 8.5 mile trail
A gem of the South Jersey, even if the trail markers can be confusing. This trail starts at Pakim Pond, heads many miles out to the Pinelands Center at Mount Misery, then doubles back through some stunning bogs to the Cranberry Trail, which takes you right back to Pakim Pond. Along the way, you’ll find my biggest weakness – cedar swamps.
#8 – Historic Smithville Park – Eastampton, NJ – 4.1 miles of trails
What do a bicycle railway, a floating hiking bridge, a wagon pulled by a team of moose, and picturesque factory ruins have in common? Historic Smithville Park near Mt Holly, of course (not to be confused with Smithville in Atlantic County)! Come here to hike just over four miles of beautiful trails, hike across a lake on a pontoon bridge (it’s awesome), and to soak in the history of the Hezekiah Smith industrial complex that turned out machinery and Star bicycles for decades. Sadly, the moose-pulled wagon is no longer a feature here!
#7 – Cape May Point State Park – Cape May, NJ – 3.2 miles of trails
South Jersey is a stopover point for millions of migrating birds, and there’s so better spot to see them than Cape May Point State Park. As if birds weren’t enough, the miles of trails here feature beautiful marshland, access to the beach, a World War II bunker, and the wonderful Cape May Lighthouse.
#6 – Wells Mills County Park – Waretown, NJ – 14.5 miles of trails
Over ten miles of beautiful pine barrens trails? Woods, hills, a lake, and cedar swamps? Wells Mills County Park has it all (literally has it all, including a trail for the blind)! Our favorite here is the 8 1/2 mile long Penns Hill (or Macri Trail), which is especially great when the blueberry bushes are in season.
#5 – Unexpected Wildlife Refuge – Newfield, NJ – 10 miles of trails
This place has quickly become one of our absolute favorites. The trails might have some blow downs, and some of the bridges can be a bit challenging, but this BEAUTIFUL piece of private property has been conserved for hikers, artists, and birders. There are beaver here and river otters and bald eagles. There are deer and turtles and birds of all kinds. It’s all private, and you need to call ahead for an appointment to visit here, but it’s a wonderful place, well worth not only visiting but supporting.
#4 – Cattus Island Park – Toms River, NJ – 7 miles of trails
These trails wind along the backwaters of Barnegat Bay, and it’s stunning. Great views of the water, a good mix of forest and marshland, and lovely boardwalks over the water. A great spot to go birding, or just to immerse yourself in nature. The nature center here is supposed to be top notch as well, but re-opened just after we visited… which sounds like a great excuse to head back!
#3 – Batona Trail – Parker Preserve – New Lisbon, NJ – 8.3 miles (one way)
At 53 miles long, the Baton Trail is South Jersey’s premier (also, only) long distance hiking trail. But you don’t need to be able to backpack 53 miles to enjoy it, there are many great day hikes you can do on it. The nicest is the “Parker Preserve Reroute”, 8.3 miles (one way) from Apple Pie Hill to Route 72. Along the way, you’ll have a chance (if open) to climb to a point high above South Jersey where the Philly and Atlantic City skylines can be seen, traverse beautiful pine barrens, hike past old cranberry bogs, and cross over a swamp on a series of planks. “Love” is not a strong enough emotion for how I feel about this trail… and it’s only #3 on the list!
#2 – Maurice River Bluffs Preserve – Millville, NJ – 5 miles of trails
If I had only discovered this trail through doing this blog, the whole project would have been worth it. These beautiful (and hillier than I’d imagined possible for South Jersey) trail system winds along a bluff that overlooks the Maurice River deep in Cumberland County. You can spot all sorts of birds here, including bald eagle, but the walk through the woods along provides for a stunning outing in South Jersey.
#1 – Red Trail – Franklin Parker Preserve – Chatsworth, NJ – 6 mile trail
As hard as this list was to put together (really, really hard… just so many wonderful trails to choose from), the number one choice for this list was the easiest pick I had to make. The Red Trail in the Parker Preserve near Chatsworth is amazing. This 6 mile trail goes through beautiful patches of pine barrens and along old cranberry bogs. BUT, it also features a beaver dam, great places to look for birds, fun little bridges, and amazing spots to watch sunsets. But the two things that make this stand out are the huge Adirondack chairs halfway around the trail and the Indiana Jones style suspension bridge over the Wading River.
A HUGE thank you to everyone who’s had anything to do with us these last five years!
What’s your favorite trail in South Jersey? Comment below, rate any hike on this website, or join the conversation in our Facebook group!