Cramer Hill Nature Preserve – Camden, Camden County, NJ
Distance – about 1 mile total of trails
Type – Loop with a branch
Difficulty: 2 of 10 – some flooded out areas
Website – New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – woods and wetlands
Surface – Woodchips, dirt, and (thanks non-stop rain) mud
Directions – 36th Street and Farragut Ave, Camden, NJ
Dog friendly? Yes
Stroller friendly? No
Markings – None, but trails mostly easy to follow. There are also deer paths and such that crisscross the preserve
Alright, we’ll get this out of the way right away…
This preserve is located in Camden, NJ. As everyone in South Jersey know, Camden, NJ is a tough place. It’s been the murder capital of the country on more than one occasion in the last few decades. It’s the dumping ground for every awful thing that the Camden County government doesn’t want to put in “nice areas” for at least the past 50 years. There are poverty issues and drug issues and crime issues. Many people in South Jersey are terrified to set foot in Camden.
That being said, I felt fine here (well, other than worrying about picking up stupid ticks, which are so awful this year). The vast majority of people in Camden are lovely. There’s a guard in the booth for Petty’s Island alongside one of the trails (this place will really be great when Petty’s Island opens next door in a few years). They’ve done a great job with fences and small cameras to keep the ATVs and illegal dumping down.
But I’m also a 6’1” guy who works just around the corner, who teaches kids from Camden, and is in Camden on a fairly regular basis for work.
So if you’re worried about hiking in Camden, bring a friend, or just pick another park to go hiking at.
Cramer Hill Nature Preserve
So checked this out after taking part in one of the New Jersey Audubon’s history hikes at the soon-to-open-to-the-public Petty’s Island. This was tagged to be a nature preserve back in 2013, and South Jersey Land & Water Trust and other groups worked their tails off cleaning out this riverfront area for years. The preserve was officially opened just last month, May 2019.
So I parked my car at the trailhead, walked down the fenceline to the entrance, and entered the trail system.
Entering the trail system, you’ll quickly come upon a split. I ended up choosing left at this fork, which brought me down into a marshy area. With the Noah-esque rains that we’d been having, there were some puddles that I had to navigate (was VERY glad I had my boots on today and not sneakers).
The trail then reenters the woods and reaches another intersection. Looking back now, I should have headed left to check out the pond. Instead, I headed right, then took a split off path down toward the water for a view of Petty’s Island across the bridge.
After the view, I got back onto the trail and headed upriver toward 36th Street. The trail loops around and paralleled that street.
This trail will loop around back to the very first intersection, but when I came across a split off that went straight up a hill, I OBVIOUSLY took the split off and went right up the hill. Realized pretty quickly that this was not an official trail, but the trail looped back into that marshy area.
Back in the marsh, I realized that I was, sadly, out of exploring time for the day and needed to get home. Therefore, I turned left to head back to the parking lot, missing the other part of the preserve.
Luckily, Petty’s Island will be opening up (*fingers crossed*) next year, which requires driving right past Cramer Hill Nature Preserve, so we’ll be back to check out the other end of the preserve.
The future site of Pettys Island State Park in Pennsauken is about 60 seconds away, just on the other side of the water. However, this will not be open until at least 2020 and is currently private property with a 24 hour guardhouse at the entrance. You can get a sneak peak by checking our our hike at Pettys Island with the NJ Audubon Society. You too can join the NJ Audubon Society for nature or history hikes before the park opens to the public, but you must get a ticket ahead of time for these events.
Some lovely flowers, views of the river.
Trail has a lot of grass growing up on it already, and I'm paranoid about ticks this Spring/Summer, which took away some of the enjoyment (for the record, I did not get any ticks).