Birch Grove Park – Northfield, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance – unsure how many miles of trails, I did 3.1 miles total
Type – Web of connecting loops
Difficulty: 2 of 10
Website – City of Northfield
Open – 9 AM to sunset
Terrain – forest and ponds
Surface – mostly dirt trails
Trailheads – 39°22’32.89″N, 74°33’50.00″W
Directions – 1700 Burton Avenue, Northfield, New Jersey 08225
Parking – Very large lot
Dog friendly? “Pets are not permitted at the park. Service animals related to a person’s disability are always welcome.”
Stroller friendly? Parts of this would be tough for a stroller
Benches? Yes, scattered throughout the park
Facilities?: Port-a-potties (bathrooms sometimes close before the park does)
So this one went on our list of places to hike within the first month of two of starting this terrible, terrible blog. Then, with the kind of efficiency that this blog is WELL known for, it took us 6 1/2 years to get here.
Man, we waited waaaaaaay too long to get to this one.
So, this park is pretty much one stop shopping. It has a baseball field up front. It has a local history museum along the road (sadly, not open the day I was there). It has great ponds for fishing that are stocked twice a year. It used to have camping as well, but sadly summer 2018 was the last season for the campground.
The first thing that you notice about the park is the grid of ponds… weird. Why so many? Well, these are the filled in excavation pits of the old Somers Brick Works. Later on, the town bought the land to make into a park, building a million little bridges that you are going to… but I get a head of myself.
So anyway, we drove until the road ran out (past the fields and the museum) and parked by the big lake, hopped out of the car, and began searching for a trailhead. We didn’t see anything that was obviously a trail, but we saw the edge of a lake on the end of a parking lot and went for it. The trail quickly curved to go BETWEEN two lakes. Around or between? We obviously went with between the two lakes, views on both sides!
We soon approached something unusual for a hiking trail in South Jersey… a covered bridge! It’s like a tiny, baby covered bridge for hikers. I love it.
The views on each side of the trail were pretty nice.
I was a little sad to get to the end of the pond, because this blog LOVES a good pond. We quickly rebounded because… what is this… another pond? MORE BRIDGES!?
WHY SO MANY PONDS!? Because this was where clay was mined for bricks. Eventually, the pits filled in with water, and then the town built a million (this is an exaggeration, it’s really only 450,000) little bridges. Loved it.
We walked straight across these two bridges, then kept right to head toward the outside of the walking trails.
Why right? Because IT’S A CRAZY TREE!
I hung out here for a bit, because how in the world is this tree still standing? I don’t have a clue, but it’s pretty awesome.
Eventually, we hit the road.
I walked up this road for a while, admiring the fading Fall glory, admiring another lake along the way.
Back at the road, I kept going, then turned in to follow a hilly trail right up against the pond. I followed this until it dumped back into the road at it’s northernmost point.
I then took a trail between two more lakes to head South in the general direction of the parking area. There were some kids fishing here, but they weren’t having any luck.
Eventually, I made it back to the road, which I took to head west to check out that end of the park. There were more ponds, more lovely colors, more little bridges, benches and picnic tables, and some weird birds too.
Finally, I rounded the last bend on the far side of that park. Here I passed the old campground. Sadly, 2018 was the last year that this campground was open, as the costs to upgrade it just made it too much for the city to invest. Which is a bummer, it looked like a great place to camp (and I should have come here years ago to camp out!).
I then hit the ponds closest to where I had parked. I left the road and began to work my way over to my car, which took me past some more lovely views, plus the developed area of the park.
As I walked across the parking lot, I passed a biker before getting back into my car.
Ponds! Little bridges! Crazy trees! Lots of birds! This was a GREAT one.
Like all the great ones, I wish there were even more trails here. Because I'm greedy and unreasonable.