The Long Ones – 5 Favorite South Jersey Hikes over 8 Miles

Happy 10th Birthday to us!  In celebration of 10 long years, we are doing a series of birthday posts.  Look, here’s one right now!

Sometimes, you only have a few minutes to hike.  Other times, you really don’t want to come back for a while.  Here are some of my favorite ones to keep your walking around for a good part of the day!  Click on the links for our full write ups on these trails.

5) Cooper River Park/Greenwald Park/Hopkins Pond – Pennsauken, Haddon Township, Haddonfield, and Cherry Hill, NJ – so many miles, maybe 15 total round trip?

The rest of the trails on this list are out in the woods, this one is different because it’s right in the middle of suburbia.  It’s not one trail, it’s a series of trails, BUT, they all connect to each other for one long hike.  Start at Cooper River Park (which I desperately need to update the post for at some point).  After walking part of the four mile loop, cross Cutherbert Blvd and stay to the north side of the Cooper River/Cooper River Lake.  The trail will pass the pavilion and the dog park.  When you hit the trail tracks, turn right, go all the way through the parking lot.  The paved trail will go under the bridge and follow along the river behind the National Guard armory.  Cross Grove Street into Greenwald Park.  Following the north side of the river, you’ll cross a bridge behind the park offices.  Shortly after you do, you can cross the Cooper River on a small bridge, head straight up a short incline past Driscoll Pond, and cross the road to circle 3/4 around Hopkins Pond in Haddonfield. At the end of the loop, cross the road back into Greenwald Park.  You can turn right back at the water and walk along either side of the creek here.  Cross Kings Highway and keep going until the trail reaches Caldwell Road.  Here, you can turn right and walk down the road to cross the creek, then turn right and walk down the paved trail toward the playground.  Just past the playground, cross the road and walk through the large parking lot to get onto the trails at Croft Farm, where you can loop about two miles.  At this point, you can get a ride back to your car, or you can backtrack through Croft Farm, Greenwald Park, behind the armory, and finish your loop around Cooper River Park to your car.

4) Elephant Swamp Trail – Elmer to Elk Township, NJ – 6 miles one way, 12 miles out-and-back

This one follows an old rail bed, so it’s wide and flat and overall pretty easy to navigate.  But it also has some great variety along the way, from woods to farm fields, swamps to railroad remains.  It’s only six miles one way, but unless you have a pair of cars, 12 miles should take up a healthy amount of your day.

3) Mount Misery Trail – New Lisbon, NJ – 8.5 miles, but since trail is a horseshoe, it’s about 10 miles total one you take the Cranberry Trail back to your car.

I’m sure a number of wags have commented even before they hit the trail that maybe a trail named Mount Misery seems like a bad plan.  But it’s such a good plan.  The trail starts behind Pakim Pond in Brendan Bryne State Forest, which itself is worth a drive into the pine barrens on a nice day.  It then spends miles winding through scrub pines, cedar swamps, and sand mining remains until it reaches the edge of Mt. Misery Camp (private property, stay on the trail).  The way back seems anti-climatic at first, as the trail gets very straight and a bit repetitive right until you hit the old cranberry bogs. When you’ve had your fill OR you worried someone will send a search party if you admire too much longer, the trail ends at the Cranberry Trail.  A left and a quick final mile and half bring you back to your car.

2) Macri Trail – Wells Mills County Park – Waretown, NJ – 8.5 miles

Wells Mills County Park is a gem of a park in an already fantastic Ocean County Parks system.  This is the longest trail in the park by a long shot, and brings you over tiny bridges in a cedar swamp, alongside a lake, through blueberry bushes, and over short boardwalks.  It’s a great spot to look for toads and fence lizards too!  Just beware the pine flies in the summer on stretches of this trail.

1) Batona Trail – Parker Preserve – Chatsworth, NJ – 8.3 miles one way (if you put a car on each end), 16.6 miles round trip

The favorite part of my favorite trail in the world.  This stretch of trail, beautifully maintained by the Outdoor Club of South Jersey, follows the edges of former cranberry bogs,  waders through long stretches of pitch pines, crosses bridges over cranberry ditches (one bridge which seems to be in an eternal war with beavers), and ends with a swamp hop.

If none of these trails are long enough for you, you could attempt all 52.7 miles of the Batona Trail, which some folks (not me) do in one day!

Thank you everyone for 10 great years!

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