Nature Trail – Alloway Creek Watershed Wetlands Restoration Site – Elsinboro, Salem County, NJ
Distance – miles total
Type – Lollipop
Difficulty: 100000 of 10 (biting flies) in summer, 2 of 10 during non bug season
Updated – 8/28/23 – added new photos of the WHOLE trail, since we didn’t get eaten by insects our second time around.
Website – None
Open – 5 am to 9 pm.
Terrain – Marshland
Surface – Crushed rock and dirt
Dog friendly? Leashed dogs allowed
Stroller friendly? Yes
Benches? Not that I saw
So I’ve been obsessed with the colony of New Sweden for a while (two books read, two more on my shelf), so I decided to drive the kids down to Elsinboro and look around this very historic area of South Jersey. It was first settled by Europeans where the Swedes arrived in 1643 when they built Fort Elfsborg to control ship traffic up and down the Delaware (mostly attempting to control Dutch ship traffic, as they also claimed the area and had a fort/trading post further north).
While we were driving around, we decided to scout out the Alloway Creek Watershed Wetlands Restoration Site for future hiking. It would be absolutely crazy to hike this in the summer, because the biting flies will eat you alive.
But when we got there, there was a very stiff breeze keeping the insects at bay. When the breeze didn’t let up, we decided to attempt this 1 1/2 mile trail.
This was a terrible idea. Things went great for while. Then the breeze dropped. We were eaten alive. Possibly one of my children was carried out into the marshlands by the mosquitos for a snack later on.
But in 2020, I came back in December to try again, and it was much safer this time! And then I waited until 2023 to update this post. Whoops.
The trail starts out through a gate and then heads down an elevated walkway over the marshlands. It’s easy to stay on this trail, if you find reeds up over your head or your feet are suddenly very wet or muddy, you wandered off the trail.
Things were going well, and the wetlands were very pretty, so we hiked onward. Along the way, we stopped to read the nature trail signs.
The trail then entered some trees and curved to the left. Shortly after, you can go left or right to start the loop part of the lollipop. We opted to go left.
Original post continued – We were really enjoying ourselves at this point… then the wind dropped. Immediately, the biting flies descended. Now, as a Jersey native, I handle things like mosquitoes like a champ. I can tolerate pine flies pretty well. But I’m not “shrugging off biting flies on the Jersey bayshore in July” tough.
So we all turned and ran for it. At some point, I moved the baby to my front so that I could defend him from being carried away by the flies. I might have been successful, much of that run is still just a blur that I half remember.
The breeze eventually started again, letting us slow down and catch our breath.
Updated post – But no hordes of insects in December! I passed the observation platform and took the right fork of the trail as it split into the candy section of the lollipop.
The loop that I’d missed was worth coming back for in these safer times.
I passed a pair of small lakes.
The trail at one point changed from grass underfoot to crushed shells.
Finishing the loop, I went up the observation tower.
It was then down the stick of the lollipop at a MUCH slower pace that our first trip here and back to the car.
Nearby: Lots of beautiful old homes between here and Salem, keep your eyes open for them! The Salem Oak is nearby (updated, was nearby. RIP Salem Oak), which is always worth a stop. The Hancock House, site of a Revolutionary War massacre, is also nearby. Take the tour if the building is open.
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The flies nearly stole the baby. Stupid summer breeze lulling me into a false sense of security. Seriously, don't come in the summer.