Jacob’s Creek Trail at the Franz Preserve – Hopewell Township, Mercer County, NJ
Distance – miles total
Type – 2.7 miles total (that’s out and back)
Difficulty: 4 of 10 (only because of needing to cross the stream, which is optional. Without that it is a 2 of 10 for a bit of elevation)
Website – New Jersey Trails Association
Open – mid-February to mid-September – open every day from dawn to dusk
mid-September to mid-February – open Sundays only from dawn to dusk
Terrain – creek, meadows, woods, and hills
Surface – Dirt with some rocks
Trailheads – 40°19’5.56″N, 74°50’17.98″W
Directions – 407 Pennington Titusville Rd, Hopewell, NJ 08560 (trailhead is just beyond this address)
Dog friendly? Yes, must be on leash
Stroller friendly? No
Benches? A few|
Description – So back in the Spring we got a new book – AMC’s Best Day Hikes in New Jersey by Priscilla Estes. We wrote a glowing review, because we loved it and because Priscilla really showed off the wonderful hiking we have in South Jersey like no other New Jersey hiking book ever has (even if she forgot to properly bribe us ahead of time with piles of cash, although a shout out in her book as also awesome).
Anyway, we wouldn’t recommend a hiking guide that we hadn’t tried, would we?
No, the answer is no! So off The Pres, Tree Rider, and I went to explore the Jacob’s Creek Trail (hike #43 in the book for those keeping score at home) last April. We found the trailhead without any issues, jumped out of the car, and opted to head down the short spur first. This didn’t go very far, but it did some some pretty flowers and creek views.
We enjoyed this little stretch a ton. The best part? We still had the vast majority of the trail to go! So having backtracked to where we had parked, we headed down the trail by the road bridge to explore the other end of the Preserve.
The other side started as a meadow net to the creek, but quickly because more wood-sy.
We came upon an old stone wall, which was actually part of a day that was long ago broken through. There was a neat tree just after that, and then we made our first stream crossing, which was a short rock hop. We don’t see many of these further south in New Jersey, so the kids were over the moon about it.
As we continued on, we started passing some fine, big trees and some serious rocks. Tree Rider asked how they built that rock wall so smooth, he didn’t believe me that it was natural rock (although it looks like it may have been quarried. Shortly after that, we had our second stream crossing, another short rock hop.
After the second stream crossing, the trail began to get more hilly. Nothing crazy, but some noticeable ups and downs. We eventually got to a power line cut, where you could really tell the size of the hill that we were heading along the edge of.
After the power line cut, the trail winds it way past a maple sap collecting area, then drops down to some boards over a wet area before ending up back at Jacob’s Creek. At this point, the trail crosses the main creek for the first time, again on rocks. With all the rain that we’d had all Spring, the creek was quite high, so the kiddos crossing wasn’t really an option. There isn’t much trail left on the other side, so we felt very satisfied with the hike so far.
So there was nothing left to but turn around and make our way back to the car. Which required recrossing boardwalks and creeks and walking past old farm equipment. It was great.
We arrived back in the car and headed for our other stop for the day – Bordentown and Randy Now’s Man Cave to pick up the latest issue of Weird NJ.
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Stream crossings, picturesque remains, lovely trees.
The only real negative is that from mid-September to to mid-February, the preserve is only open on Sundays due to hunting season.