Petty’s Island History Hike – Pennsauken, NJ

Petty’s Island – Future State Park – Pennsauken, Camden County, NJ
Distance – 2 1/2  miles total

Official Website – https://nj.gov/dep/njnlt/pettysisland.htm
NJ Audubon – https://www.aquaticsciences.org/community/pettys_island_eng.html

Updated – 3/10/23

*HUGE MASSIVELY IMPORTANT NOTE*

Please note that Petty’s Island is CLOSED to the public at this time!  The only way onto the island is one of the tours run through the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium!  These tours are FREE, but require snagging a free ticket, which tend to go in days, if not hours.  CITGO still owns the property at this time, which is protected by a guard house that is manned 24 hours a day.

Seriously. Guard house.

However, have no fear, the plan is that this should open to the public in [insert date here since it’s already two years overdue with no end in site] and we cannot wait!

Map –

Description –

So on June 15, 2019, I was lucky enough to attend the Spring Petty’s Island History Hike led by local historian Robert Shinn (most famously the author of the book Along the Cooper River).  I arrived early, made it through the gate, and joined the group getting registered before carpooling down to the trailhead.


Here, we got our intro to the history of the island.  I won’t go too much into the history, because I’ll blow it with details, but the history is FASCINATING.  Don’t worry, the next issue of SoJourn Magazine will have a great article about it and there’s a book in the works too.

The tour then worked its way around the southern point of the island.  There were some nice views of Camden, including City Hall, the mouth of the Cooper River, and of the Barnegat Lightship.

Barnegat Lightship, which sadly might be beyond saving by this point.

 

Mouth of the Cooper River.

 


The hike then rounded the end of the island to bring Philly into view.  There are a lot of historical connections between this island and Philly, but you’ll have to wait for the book because I’ll mess it up.  The views are pretty great.

 

Center City.

 

Old power plant in Philly.

 

Graffitti pier, which also will become a park in the next few years, but on the PA side.

We then headed up the west side of the island.  This led us out of the woods and into a gigantic meadow, which until this February was a giant parking lot for shipping containers (a crazy transformation in such a short time).  The hike then headed over to the two story structure that will eventually house the visitors center for the state park that will be here.



We then were lucky enough to head into what will become the visitor center (first public tour to go in, yay!) The views a ridiculous,

Another fascinating talk about the history of the island.

 

From there, it was a a short walk back to the cars.  We carpooled back to the main parking area before heading our separate ways.  GREAT MORNING!

Want to visit?  Check out https://njaudubon.org/centers/pettys-island-preserve/ for information about upcoming events!

 

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