Cohanzick Zoo and Bridgeton City Park – Bridgeton, NJ

Bridgeton City Park – Cohanzick Zoo Section – Bridgeton, Cumberland County, NJ
Distance –  2.5 miles total out-and-back on trail by millrace
Type – out-and-back
Difficulty:  1 of 10

Website – Bridgeton City Park and also an outdated site here
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – Marsh, woods, fields
Surface – Paved and crushed gravel

Trailheads – N 39° 25.923 W 075° 14.228

Directions – 15 Mayor Aitken Drive, Bridgeton, NJ (parking lot is actually across the street).  Please note that as of August 2023, this lot is closed as part of a six month bridge rebuilding project, so we parked here.

Parking – Several lots along the trail

Dog friendly? Unsure
Stroller friendly? Yes
Benches? A few benches, but clumped near the trailhead or the park across the street.  Not many (any?) along the trail.
Facilities?: Saw bathrooms listed on a map, but did not go near them due to the construction.  Bathrooms are available at the zoo.

Markings – Signs naming the trails several different names
Map –

No official map, but here’s our track

Description –

So I’ve been avoiding posting about Bridgeton City Park for years and years and years on this blog (even after visiting it), because I’m super intimidated that it is an insane (for a city park) 1,000+ acres, and the online info isn’t much of anything.  But I finally realized THAT IT’S MY WEBSITE AND I CAN JUST SPLIT THE PARK ARBITRIALLY INTO SECTIONS (no one has ever accused me of being quick on the uptake).  Whew!  Solved that problem. So, we will later have fun exploring the Mary Elmer Lake section which has mountain biking/hiking trails I’ve heard good things about and the Sunrise Lake section, and we will all conveniently ignore that we skipped the trails across from zoo for the moment).

Mill Race Trail of Many Names

So on a hot August morning, Tree Rider, Kite Flyer, the Big Fella, and the Poet tackled the arbitrarily named “Cohanzick Zoo Section” of Bridgeton City Park, in no small part because it is easier to bribe the 9 to 1 year old crowd to go on a hike in the heat if there is a promise of a zoo visit thrown in.

There is construction where I had planned to park, so we parked the next lot down, walked down the sidewalk past the Civil War statue and posed with the Bridgeton City Park sign overhanging the street.

Across the street is an old factory (which is where we had planned to park), behind which is a set of steps up to the trail.  With construction at the moment, there is a chain link fence around much of the area, but the stairs are still accessible.

Up, up, up.

We headed down the trail, which follows an old raceway up toward Sunset Lake.  It passes Jeddy’s Pond and makes its way toward an old road bridge.

Heading toward the bridge.
He looks very warm.
Along the raceway.
The Poet is very excited to be in his backpack.
More raceway.
Approaching the bridge.

The road now crosses a new bridge, and the trail hooks right to cross the road just before the bridge.  It quickly heads back to follow the raceway.

Crossing the road.
A trail name! I saw three different trail names for this trail along the way, leaving me confused an avoiding using trail names.
Along the road.
But quickly back at the raceway.

The trail begins to parallel the zoo, and the kids got excited.

Kids can tell we’re across the water from the zoo now!

I promised we’d stop on the way back down the trail.  Alas, this was impossible because the bridge seems to be missing some important pieces at the moment.

I mean, it’s great, but how to we get to it?
Also, second trail name I’ve seen along this trail.
I guess we aren’t crossing here on the way back.

Anyway, new plan… finish the hike, hike back to the car, and we’ll drive to the zoo.

So onward down the raceway.  A short while after this, the trail left the shady area and was in full sun.  HOT.

View to the other side of the trail.
Shady… shady…
And now nothing but sun!

Luckily, it wasn’t terribly far to go.  We headed down through an elevated section of trail, over the fish ladder, and arrived at the end of the trail – Park Drive West across from Sunset Lake.

Trail drops down.
Near the fish ladder.
End of the line.
But I ducked across the street to take a photo of the lake.

Unfortunately, this is the end of the line in this direction, unless we walked down the road (not happening in the heat).  So we turned around and made our way back down the raceway to the steps.

Another name for the trail?
Make new friends (turtles swimming).
They walk faster with the promise of a zoo!
Almost back.

We went down the steps, went around the fence, recrossed the road, and made our way past the Civil War statue and back to the car.

Then, to avoid a mutiny, it was a short drive to the zoo!  The zoo shares a parking lot with a splash pad, but you must have water shoes to use the splash pad and my kids don’t all own them so I didn’t tell them the splash pad existed.  Unfortunately, they have eyes and spotted it.  Still, there’s a zoo!

Cohanzick Zoo – Bridgeton, NJ

45 Mayor Aitken Dr, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Cost – Free!  (Donations accepted)

Tree Rider, Kite Flyer, the Big Fella, and the Poet all went charging in.  Our first friend we met was a porcupine.

Then a gorilla got them all.

Most of the animals were chilling in the shade on such a hot day, but we did see a fox, a peacock, a monkey of some sort (gibbon maybe?), and a tiger.





The Poet starting freaking out in a good way when the tiger walked past him.

We wound our way back to the front of the zoo, the kids happy they had survived a hike and gotten to see the zoo.




Except them they went on another hike to look for Bigfoot.  Who they found.  Good day!

Nearby:

Much more to explore at Bridgeton Park, which we still need to do!  Hopewell Park has a mile or so of trails nearby as well.

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