Willow Grove Lake Preserve – Newfield, Gloucester County, NJ
Distance – 2.2 miles (trail might be a hair longer)
Type – Loop
Difficulty: 3 of 10 (overgrown)
Website – nature.org
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Woods and marsh
Surface – Dirt
Trailheads – 39°32’57.35″N, 75° 3’58.91″W
Directions -2501 Weymouth Ave, Newfield, NJ
Parking – Very small lot with room for a few cars
Dog friendly? No
Stroller friendly? No
Notes – preserve is open to hunting September through January. During that time, it’s best to hike on Sundays when there is no hiking.
So, on a lovely March day, we tried to stop by the Willow Grove Lake Preserve to explore… and we couldn’t find it. Whoops. So we came back in mid-May.
We started in at the trailhead, which had an awful lot of tall grass… not a good sign in such an awful tick year.
Once past that, we took what looked to be an old road toward the left.
It went through a lovely bit of woods…
With some puddles from all the rain that allowed us to make a new friend.
After a while, we hit a junction for the nature trail, which would turn right, then loop around and go back to this point.
Unfortunately, the trail quickly became overgrown, so we went back and headed up the road for a bit. It turned out this was the better half of the loop, as we’d completely walked by the loop that headed to the left without seeing it.
So we backtracked to the road and headed deeper into the preserve. There were some blow downs, but there were paths established around them, so they’d been there for a while.
At one point, we were able to cut over to where the trail was supposed to be to the left of the road, and it looked in decent shape!
But we quickly lost it and had to go back to the road. This was looking toward that left half of the trail where it was supposed to cross the road. There’s a blaze on one of those trees, but that doesn’t look like even the idea of a trail.
But the right half looked pretty good! So we decided to go for it. We would regret this. A lot.
But there were some pretty flowers, even as we started to work our way through patches of knee high grass.
As you can probably guess, we had to keep stopping to find all of the ticks that were coming for us. Thank goodness we’d worn long pants that day and tucked the legs into our socks, so The Pres, Tree Rider, and I were able to keep stopping and taking all of them off BEFORE they got anywhere near our skin. Hooray for dressing right!
We got some hope when we found the sign for a spur to the view of the river. Yay!
Unfortunately, the Spring monsoons meant that the trail flooded out before we could get to the “vista”. Sad face.
Back to the trail and the tick onslaught.
The clearings were pretty clear, which were good spots to stop and pick off ticks.
Eventually, the trail rejoined the road and we made out way out of the woods, where all the clothes layers came off and the kids changed into other clothes we had in the car. Stupid, stupid, stupid ticks.
Luckily, this was by FAR the worst tick hike we’d had in six years of this blog, so hopefully its another six years before we have a similar one! Make sure to come explore this place when it’s cold out, just be aware of hunting season.
Nearby: Malaga Lake Park and Parvin State Park are both relatively close!
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Some pretty flowers along the way.
Flooding, ticks, overgrown trails...
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