D&R Canal State Park – Abbot Marshlands – Bordentown, Burlington County, NJ
Distance – 4.5 miles total
Type – One way trail
Difficulty: 1 of 10
Website – Friends of Abbott Marshlands
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Fields, marsh, woods, river
Surface – Mostly crushed stone
Bordentown Beach – Located at the foot of West Park St in Bordentown, just past the train station.
Rt 295 Overlook – Between Exit 57 and Exit 60 on I-295.
Canal Blvd Trailhead – Canal Blvd and Lamberton Rd, Hamilton Township, NJ
Parking – Large lot at Bordentown Beach, good sized lot at 295 rest stop. Unsure of parking at Canal Blvd as I was dropped off.
Dog friendly? Yes
Stroller friendly? Yes
Facilities?: Pot-a-potties at Bordentown Beach
None, but easy enough to follow.
Description – I was off for Spring Break (Yay! I needed it), and The Pres and Tree Rider had their weekly Farm Class in Bordentown. The thought of sitting around farm all morning didn’t seem appealing, so Kite Flyer and I set off on an adventure on the D&R Canal Towpath through the Abbott Marshlands.
My wife was nice enough to drop the two of us off before Farm Class started. We headed down the trail and… immediately ran into a solid mass of fallen trees. One of the storm clusters had come right through here (possibly even a tornado?) and knocked over tons of trees. The park folks were out starting to get through the damage, but it looked almost impassable.
The smart play here would have been to call my wife up to pick us up. But we aren’t smart. So we did about 1/4 mile of continually dead tree climbing. Fun! Also, I definitely picked up poison ivy doing this. I noticed some of it and washed it off, but missed that I got it on my other hand too. This would be a fun little souvenir for the next several weeks to remember this trail by.
Anyway, we made it through!
Once we got through, it was clear sailing the rest of the way. This trail follows the towpath of the old Delaware & Raritan Canal (you know, in case the title didn’t give it away). The old canal was along our left side throughout the whole hike. The towpath is where the mules used to walk to drag the canalboats down the water.
The trail begins by paralleling Lamberton Road for the first mile or so. There are occasional access points to the road.
Once you cross under Route 295, the trail hits its most isolated stretch, as the towpath runs the gauntlet between the marsh and Duck Creek. You’re never far from the traffic noise of 295, but you feel like you’re in the middle of a marsh. Possibly because you are in the middle of a marsh. It’s my favorite stretch of this trail for the next mile and half or so. Stop to admire the flowers and the big trees. Keep an eye out for the mileposts from the old canal. Keep an eye out for all sorts of birds flying about. Take a nap while Daddy carries your heavy bottom around (thanks Kite Flyer).
Eventually, we have to come back to civilization. This comes in the form of a path splitting off to the right. This path leads to another trailhead for this hike, the one at the scenic overlook of the Delaware River on Route 295.
But we were not headed that way today. We were staying straight for where the canal would enter Crosswicks Creek, crossing a bridge over the canal for the first time this hike.
After the bridge, we took a trail down toward the water to take a peek, then worked our way back to the main trail and around to the crossing of Crosswicks Creek.
Once across the bridge at Crosswicks Creek (which is shared with the Trenton Light Rail Line). We worked our way down past the yacht club, then made a left turn and made a steep climb up the road (no sidewalks here, be careful!). Also keep an eye out, as there is a ship wreck located by this bridge (we didn’t see it, but we read the sign about it).
You’ve now made your way into historic Bordentown, New Jersey. I love Bordentown, and there are tons of places to explore here (school house where Clara Barton of Red Cross fame once taught, Thomas Paine Statue and home, gravestone to NJ State Welfare Bureaucracy, Randy Now’s Man Cave, and the Old Bookstore of Bordentown), but let’s stick to the trail for now!
We headed down Farnsworth Ave for a block, then made a Wright turn (haha! You’ll get this joke when you are here) onto West Park Street.
You’ll then go down Park, passing the train station, heading under the railroad bridge, and head for Bordentown Beach.
You’ll end up in a park fit for a king. Or at least, it once was, as Bordentown Beach was once part of Joseph Bonaparte estate, known as Point Breeze. Joseph Bonaparte, of course, was the brother of one of the greatest generals in the history of ever, Napolean Bonaparte, and had served as a King of Naples and Sicily and later as King of Spain, but made a run for the United States when his little brother fell from power.
Now days, it’s used for picnicking, fishing, and staring aimlessly at where Crosswicks Creek enters the Delaware River.
At this point, Kite Flyer became very excited because MAMA WAS HERE! And there isn’t a hike in the world that trumps Mama showing up to pick us up. Off we went to farm class, where we saw baby goats and a cow.
And then went home where I itched for weeks.
Big tip of the hat to one of our favorite hiking blogs, Gone Hikin’, for doing this hike before us, which is how we found it existed! You should check out Gone Hikin’ ‘s (how do you punctuate that?) awesome hikes all across New Jersey as well as states all over the place. They are a lot like us, except with coherent writing and better pictures, plus adorable dogs instead of adorable children.
Nearby: Abbot Marshlands has lots of nice hiking. Our favorite is John Roebling Memorial Park is closeby and very nice trails through an old amusement park, but there is also the Northern Community Park Nature Trail and Bordentown Bluffs.
History, birding, nature.
Stupid downed trees and poison ivy, although the downed trees are probably gone by now since it took me three months to write this post.