Arney’s Mount Trails – Columbus, Burlington County, NJ
Distance – 3.85 total miles of trails (1 mile of which is a horse trail), we did a 2 1/2 mile loop
Type – Loop
Difficulty: 3 of 10
Website – Burlington County Parks
Open – Dawn to dusk (Burlington County Parks posts a paper in the trail kiosk for when the park closes each time of the year. It changes seasonally, so doesn’t always fall after sunset.
Terrain – Three big hills (well, South Jersey big), one of which you can choose to take a trail over, plus a huge field and some woods.
Surface – Paved (Yellow Trail) and crushed stone (Red Trail)
Trailheads – N 40° 00.635 W 074° 42.452
Directions – 150 Juliustown Road, Columbus, NJ
Parking – Good sized lot
Dog friendly? Leashed dogs allowed, must stay to the right on the trails
Stroller friendly? Yellow Trail is stroller friendly. Red Trail would require you to navigate stairs.
Benches? Benches at the beginning of trail and a bench where the Red and Yellow Trails meet in the big loop.
Facilities?: Port-a-potty, pavilion, picnic tables, grills (didn’t say, but imagine these need to be reserved?)
Markings – Signs at intersections.
Map available here.
One of the problems with this big dumb blog that I’ve had at different points over the years is that, at a certain point, I’ve done all the trails within a reasonable distance of my house and have to clear out a whole day to do hikes from from “To Do” list. But lately new trails have been appearing like something new that appears suddenly in large numbers. Yay!
So after the Pres finished his last baseball game of the season and we went home to eat lunch, we headed out for a National Trails Day hike! Our goal? The brand new Arney’s Mount Trails in the Burlington County Park System, which opened up just a few short weeks ago.
I figured the hike would be about 2 1/2 miles (which it was) and thought it’d be nice to climb the hill that is the highest point in Burlington County. But, spoiler alert, it turned out to be even more awesome than I had hoped.
Anyway, The Pres, Tree Rider, and I pulled into the parking lot without too much trouble, opened the doors, and got the backpack out. We went to check out the kiosk, took a pictures of the trail map, and then off we go! The first surprise (because my research ahead of time skills are suspect at best) was that the Yellow Trail was paved. We headed into the woods and, a short time later, arrived at the intersection with the Red Trail, which was surfaced with crushed stone.
In an effort to see as much as we could, we hooked a left onto the Red Trail, enjoying the shade on this very sunny (but very pleasant) day. As would be expected for a trail named for a mountain, the trail started going up, up, up. Now, when I say up, up, up, a friendly reminder that this is still South Jersey, so we’re going to top out at a bit over 240 feet. But still, it was a pleasant walk up in the shade, with some stairs to help out.
Eventually, we summited (or as close as you can to summiting, since the top is private property occupied by a tower)! That called for a sit down break. One of the cool things to keep an eye out for up here are blocks of sandstone, which were quarried up here for building purposes. The nearby Arney’s Mount Meeting House was built from stone from this hill.
So far, it had been a pretty great hike. We went down a set of steps and emerged into some pretty huge fields. After the darkness of the woods, this was pretty stunning, and it was the best moment of the hike.
After taking in the view for a bit, we turned left back onto the paved Yellow Trail, which we’d follow as it looped around the fields. As we got further away, we were able to look back at Arney’s Mount and the two other little prominences that rose nearby to it. On a hotter day, this stretch could have become miserable as there is no break from the sun, but today was a picture perfect day to walk this section of the trail.
The trail eventually came to a bridge over a small wet area.
After the bridge, a small set of picturesque buildings came into view. These are private property, but the trail would curve to head directly towards them and would eventually pass very close to them. Looks like a pretty great spot to either live, work, or both.
The trail crossed a private driveway before arriving at the intersection of the Yellow Trail with itself.
Here, we turned left to take the part of the Yellow Trail that lead back to the parking lot. Along the way, we went back into the shade, passed some more great trees, and saw a sign explaining some of the geology of the area.
That was the end of the hike. But, having learned the rock from this hill was used to build the nearby Quaker Meeting House, we piled into the car and headed down to check it out (not that I ever need an excuse to visit a building older than our country.
The Arney’s Mount Friend’s Meeting House has been standing here since 1775. It’s still in use today.
The cemetery next door is even older than the meeting house, and there are many burials outside of it’s walls, which weren’t built until 1860.
Historic Smithville and Smith’s Woods is a short drive away, and is a favorite of ours.
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Beautiful views, a nice climb, picturesque. Yellow Trail is great for strollers. Still has that "new trail" smell.
Majority of the trail has little cover, so beware if you're attempting this one at the hottest part of the day in the hot months.