sj trails dirtsm

This blog’s super serious, ultra-dedicated purpose:

1) To seek out those trails in South Jersey that the others guys miss (or hit, we’re not particular), whether it be through a local park or deep in the Pine Barrens where the Jersey Devil steals children (other people’s children, mine are too scary for him). Then, I shall share them so the three people who read this blog can have new places to hike.

2) To accept bribes for completely non-subtle product placement. Bribes are best given in the form of Reese’s Cups or large grants that will pay my rent while I quit my job and backpack the entire Appalachian Trail.

3) To also post about canoeing, history, backpacking occasional trails not quite in South Jersey, national parks, and whatever else I feel like, just confuse people. If you don’t like it, you can fight Larry. Whoever Larry is.

Happy trails (to you)!
Mike, South Jersey Trails

Aka: Dada

On top of the world (or at least on top of Maryland)!
On top of the world (or at least on top of Maryland)!

Mike likes hiking (or at least fakes it well for the Internet).  He has become more and more obsessed with backpacking over the years after hating it, and somehow ended up with a subscription to Backpacker Magazine at some point, he’s not 100% sure how.  He’s also a great canoer, as shown by the fact that he won the Canoeing Feather at YMCA Camp Ockanickon when he was in grade school.    Every once in a while, he does something a little nuts like driving cross country for two months or taking his 3 1/2 month old to Ireland for a whole month.  In his free time, Mike runs a Boy Scout troop, a Cub Scout Pack, finds some geocaches, and somehow also holds down a job.  His goal is for someone to pay him an obscene amount of money to advertise on this blog so that he can thru-hike the Appalachian Trail without having his family starve.  Mike likes writing in 3rd person.

Oh, and he has a book out – AMC’s 50 Best Day Hikes in New Jersey, 2nd Edition, co-written with Priscilla Estes.

The Wife!!!

She's smiling because some lady had just called her an intrepid woman.
She’s smiling because some lady had just called her an intrepid woman.

An accomplished outdoorswoman, as shown by the fact that she survived a 7 1/2 week cross country road trip (camping 38 nights out of 45) after only camping 2 nights in her life.  Also an accomplished babywearer.  She likes Pennsylvania better than New Jersey, but we don’t hold that against her.

Many people babywear through supermarkets. How many do it while climbing 618 ancient stone steps to a monastery at the top of an island mountain?
Many people babywear through supermarkets. How many do it while climbing 618 ancient stone steps to a monastery at the top of an island mountain?

The Pres!!!

The Pres is almost a teenager, and is obsessed with owls, math problems (I assure you, he did not get that from his father), and Philly sports. His favorite park of hiking is looking for birds and turtles.  He now backpacks better than I do.

Tree Rider!!!

Tree Rider likes to hike trails and climb trees (guess we were asking for that one).

Kite Flyer!!!

Endless energy.  Even at 6 years old, his favorite part of hikes is still sticks.  Just sticks.

The Big Fella!!!


All smiles and nonsense, but he can hike with the best of them!

The Poet!!!

He’s two.  He’s very, very two.


The newest one! She has a lot of older brothers and a pink unicorn named Amy.

Other People!!!

Thanks to our brave contributors – James, Marybeth, Roger, Dave and Mary!

Many thanks to those folks who come out hiking and canoeing with me:

Dan (who also doubles as my highly paid tech advisor) –

Pat –  

and of course the rest of Team Smith, Gallagher, Jeremy, Skunk, Chuck, and my Boy Scout troop.

We’re ALWAYS looking for folks to become contributors to the website (South Jersey hiking or outdoors posts or something remotely related to this site, not looking for articles on nutrition or 8 Great Way to Burn Fat on the Trail), to come hiking with us, or for new trail suggestions!

46 thoughts on “About

  1. This blog is awesome! I am a local South Jersey hiker as well and love your reviews. I have hiked a number of your posts, some local trails I think you’d enjoy are the Wenonah Woods in Wenonah (Gloucester County), Black Run Preserve in Evesham Township (Camden County), the Elephant Swamp trail which connects Elk Twnshp (Gloucester County) and Elmer (Salem County). Also don’t forget to cross the Delaware and hike the Wissahickon Valley (the best trail system within 30 minutes of camden county in my opinion)

  2. Thanks! Black Run Preserve is one of my favorites, but I haven’t been to Wenonah Woods or the Elephant Swamp Trail. I’ll definitely add the to my list! My wife has been trying to get me to go hike more in Pennsylvania (she’s a Western Suburbs girl), so we’ll have to try the Wissahickon Trails.

  3. Awesome blog! I am also an avid South Jersey hiker (when time allows). I especially like the posts on the Batona Trail and Wading River. I’ve done the Wading many times from Hawkins to Chips Folly (staying overnight at Bodine Fields). The Wading River definitely keeps you on your toes (especially when the river’s swollen).

    I’m currently mapping and doing write-ups on all NJ state parks and eventually plan to branch out into other states as well. I’m starting south and heading north. The Batona is my final hurdle before heading to central NJ and then the mts. I’ve enjoyed reading your 4-day go of it.

    As for suggestions: (I’ll try not to include one’s you did)
    Cape May Point State Park – Yellow or Blue Trail (1.5 or 2 mi)
    Belleplain State Park – East Creek Trail (White – 7 mi)
    Parvin State Park – Parvin Lake Trail (Green – 3 mi)
    Wharton State Forest – Penn Branch Bike Trail (Orange – 19.3 mi)
    Wharton State Forest – Mullica River Trail (Yellow – 9.5 mi)
    Penn State Forest – Lost Lane Rd (No blazes – 4 mi) (pygmy pines!)
    Double Trouble State Park – Perimeter Loop Trail (No marker – 2.25 mi) or Nature Trail (Marked by #s – 1.5 mi) – I saw this was on your future hikes but wasn’t sure if you went there yet

    Out of State:
    Hawk Mt. in Kempton, PA (near Reading), definitely recommend Spur Trail -> Skyline Trail -> Golden Eagle Trail -> River of Rocks Trail -> parking. Forgot how long it was, pretty full day. My brother and I went slower since there was a lot of snow/ice on the rocks. Beautiful hike though.

    Catskills – Wittenberg Mt., Cornell Mt., Slide Mt. Loop, starts and ends at Woodland Valley Campground and follows multiple trails as well as a road. Pretty full day and quite a strenuous hike with multiple scrambles. Great hike but quite enduring. Many had blisters at the end of this one.

    Sorry for writing a book. I hope to visit some of the trails you posted that I was not familiar with. Thanks again!


    1. Hey Steve,

      No worries, thanks for the book! Glad you enjoyed the Wading and Batona posts, two of my favorite places in the world.

      Thank you for all of the suggestions! I’ll definitely add them to my list. I’m itching to try the Mullica River Trail (my Scouts just did that one last week… but without me), and one of my Scouts reblazed the Penn Branch Bike Trail for his Eagle Project, but the rest of these I hadn’t come across yet! Lost Lane Road sounds particularly good, there is just something about tiny pine trees that is particularly awesome.

      Good luck with your state park project! Are you doing all of the parks, or just the outdoor nature ones (because the guy at the Walt Whitman House in Camden is grumpy)?


      1. Mike,

        I’d definitely recommend the Mullica River Trail. Every year my co-workers and I go hiking there and then chow down at Pic-A-Lilli’s (just north on Rte 206 near Atsion Ranger Station). Heads up: There’s an immediate detour due to a washed out bridge going over the Mechescatauxin Creek Delta. The detour is roughly 1.2 mi and If there’s been recent rains, I strongly suggest taking it. Usually, I could just jump/walk barefoot across the delta (it’s pretty shallow). This past Sunday (due to the heavy rains) the Mullica River was quite flooded and I ended up wading in water above my knees before even reaching the delta. Mapping woes 🙂

        Just so you’re not disappointed, the Pygmy Pines on Lost Lane Rd aren’t quite as short as some people put online. I’ve seen posts online that they don’t grow over 6′. Well most of the pines I saw were between 7-8′ tall. I still felt a bit like a giant, due to how short the trees were. Another heads up about Penn State Forest: It only has a pit-toilet near lake Oswego and many roads flood easy after heavy rains. Lost Lane Rd is usually pretty good, but other side roads may be flooded.

        For my project, I’m only doing outdoor parks. I’m mapping and doing write-ups on all marked (and many unmarked) trails in NJ’s state parks. I was originally planning on doing pretty much everything (including wildlife refuges). But once I decided to go from state to state, I realized it would take way too long. Therefore, I’m limiting it just to the outdoor state parks/forests as listed in each state’s DEP Park Directory. I still love to visit other areas, I just won’t include it in the project to keep things consistent.


  4. I am so glad I stumbled across here. Being originally from MD, when I moved to South Jersey (read Jersey Shore near AC) one thing that bummed me out was all the flat space. No good hiking! I’ve been hitting places like Glen Onoko Falls in PA, but its so far. I can’t wait to give these a try!

    1. Hello, glad you stumbled across here too! We don’t have the hills or mountains that Western Maryland has (Elk Neck and the Maryland section of the AT are beautiful), but over time I hope you find that South Jersey hikes that their own brand of flat beauty.

      For some hills, try the Carranza to Apple Pie Hill hike in Burlington County, or maybe the Maurice River Bluffs Preserve in Cumberland County.

      The best time of year for the bay hikes down by the shore is coming up soon, bugs will soon be dying by the truckloads 🙂

  5. I’m a reporter with the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill. I’m working on a story about trash along the Delaware River. I spotted a post about the Palmyra Nature Cove, and the description of one of the trails there was gross – “wading through garbage.” Yuck.

    The post was written by Dave & Mary. Looks like they reviewed it in August. Looking for a first-hand account of what they — perhaps literally — stumbled upon on the Delaware River shore for my story. I can be reached at cromalino@courierpostonline.com.

    Hope you can help.

  6. I just recently discovered this blog and plan to share it! My husband and I both runners and would like to get more into hiking/trail running. Thank you for sharing all this great info! We will definitely share with our friends and help support this awesome site.

  7. As the weather turns nicer, the hubby and I were looking for some places to hike … Luckily we found your blog and have many new places to check out! Thanks for doing this! Any leads on potential trails that may include a Jersey Devil sighting ;-). ….

  8. I am moving to Gloucester county from North Jersey next week and I am SO happy this blog exists. My boyfriend and I want to hit as many trails as possible before everything freezes. Thank you, guys!

  9. I am moving to Gloucester County from the North Jersey/NYC area next week. I stumbled across this blog while googling hikes and other outdoors activities to do before everything freezes. I’m going from 13 hour long city days to a 10 minute commute with a lot more open space. Really looking forward to it. Thank you so much for putting this together!

    1. You’re welcome, congrats on the move and the shorter commute! There’s tons of outdoor stuff to do around here, you won’t run out for quite a while.

      As for the freezing, that can be a great time to go out too, no bugs!

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Love your photos and write-ups. Hoping to hit some of these trails whenever I make it to the East coast 🙂

    1. Thanks! Just started poking through your blog, but already the Trans-Catalina Trail looks amazing. I haven’t been to Channel Islands National Park yet, but it’s never too early to get ideas 🙂

  11. Wow! You deserve to be paid for your efforts here. I hope that dream comes true some day. Can’t wait to explore all the good things we have in South Jersey. This is by far the best informational, outdoor site I have been able to find. Thank You!!

  12. Thank you so much for this blog!! I’m from Atlantic County and this gave me lots of ideas for some summer hiking fun.

  13. Just wanted to thank you for this amazing blog! My boyfriend and I travel all over hiking New Jersey and sometimes it can be hard to find a new place in the area. Your list is absolutely awesome and will be so helpful for our future adventures! Never stop wandering 🙂

  14. Hey, wanted to say thanks. Not only have you been the primary source for most of my hikes for the past year (especially those with kids), you’ve inspired me to start a blog of my own. I really appreciate the thoroughness and lack of pretention of your writing.

  15. Hi Steve!

    I moved to jersey six months ago after spending two glorious years wandering north Carolina’s glory. Also I have a beagle. And your blog is EXACTLY what I need. More places to explore! More things to sniff! We’ve conquered Amici Island and Taylor’s Wildlife Preserve so much we can navigate it in the dark. We (I) need longer 3+ mile trips otherwise I have to loop and loop. Until discovering your page I’ve just been hunting Google maps for large green areas! Excited to make a list and start conquering and tiring dog out.

    You’ve built an incredible resource and I wish it’s link had been in my welcome package !

    Thanks a TON

  16. Just wanted to say how helpful this *massively* comprehensive site has been at the beginning of my journeys throughout South Jersey. I live right by the river where it’s sort of built up so having such a thorough, wildly informative guide to each and every little spot I had always driven by but never knew was there is a godsend. All those pictures of every little turn, the ratings of each trail, the precise locations of parking and trail markers…I could not be more appreciative. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

    1. You’re welcome! The good news is that we have at least a hundred more trails to cover, so we’ll still be at this for quite a while. 🙂

  17. This is a fine blog with first-rate narrative/photographic content. I was curious to know if you’ve considered expanding local/state history into your reviews? Given that you are a history teacher with knowledge of the relevant impact the Delaware River Valley/S. Jersey) had on the founding of the Republic, and the emergence of industrial America as a major power, it strikes me that history lessons (disguised as outdoor recreation) is a sound method for promoting (use and protection of) these important natural areas. The residents in Burlington County seeking national water trail designation for Rancocas Creek appear to have similar interests.

    Again, thanks to you and your beautiful (and supportive) family!

    1. Hi Ben! Thanks for the kind words!

      I sneak history in where I cant resist, but I try to be careful, because I’d totally let it run away with the blog. Whenever possible, I link or reference outside resources that do a better job with the history than I could do on my trail reviews. There’s just so much history in South Jersey. 🙂

  18. You are quite welcome. Yes, I appreciate the challenge (and temptation) of adding endless content. One suspects the bride’s patience is not without limits. As the “Crossroads of the Revolution’ and cradle of the Republic, NJ has much to commend. S. Jersey is no less worthy than other parts of the Delaware River Valley/Garden State. Indeed, from Colonial America through the nation-altering Civil War and beyond, the region holds unique relevance to the story of a nation in the making. Getting folks out on those trails is surely key to building a constituency willing to safeguard these natural/historic treasures. I’m mentioning your website/blog to a journalist-friend who’ll likely take an interest in your efforts. I recently had dinner with a chap in Princeton who mentioned proposed trail improvements (access, etc.) along the Rancocas. Perhaps that might be something of interest.

    Keep up the good work and thanks, again, for the great example–especially for that next generation of hiker-explorers.

  19. I’ve lived in South Jersey for 11 years and stumbled on your blog last year. Thanks for introducing us to a number of hidden gems! (Plus it’s fun to read.)

  20. This is awesome, glad I stumbled across it! Never been the most avid hiker in the world. I sprained my ankle pretty badly playing tennis this past December, and after settling on some new footwear came across some podiatric articles on hiking as a way to strengthen your feet. So initially it was a means to an end, but since coming upon this site I’m really enjoying exploring all the hiking options that I had no idea were so nearby. Maurice River is a good 40 mile drive for me, but is the current favorite! Thanks again.

  21. Stumbled upon this blog trying to find stuff to do in Atsion for a girls trip this summer and now I’m obsessed. I’ve been in South Jersey for 21-ish years and never knew about all of these trails! I’m so excited to start exploring, since I’ve mostly been limited to wandering around the YMCA camps/the woods in my own backyard.

  22. Your blog is my new adventure for this year. It’s an awesome site with so much right in one place. Definitely a ton of work on your part. I’ve explored some of the trails you’ve listed but so many I have not heard of. Your blog has provided more than the AllTrails app has even come close to. It has become my go to guide. Thanks for your work, can’t wait to see your next hikes!

  23. This is such a great thing that you do! Thank you! Can anyone tell me; (I apologize if this is the wrong place to ask this; I am new here…) but my daughter and I were at Long Bridge Park today in Eastampton / Westampton area. There was a large body of water and there were either frogs or ducks in large number. They could be seen but not heard. Does anyone know what this was? Super loud but I could not see anything. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Jennifer! Could be spring peepers? They can be super loud, and they aren’t always easy to see.

      If you hear them again, take a short video. We have a South Jersey Trails Facebook group with a few people in it (okay, like 7000 people), someone will know there.

  24. Hey SJT guy. Was down in cape may court house area by zoo geocaching and stumbled across the NJ Lizard Tail Swamp preserve. I know it has at least 2 trails (yellow and blue). I’m not sure how long trails are or anything that’s your area of expertise, only made it in far enough to get caches(wifey was I’ll prepared) Thought you might want to check them out if you’re in the area. Yellow trail is a little wet ( swamp preserve) Thanks.

  25. Love, love love this site. During pandemic, it’s been invaluable for great local walks. Often these spots are just not known walks to people in the state.. but they are to nearby locals. And trails can pop up anywhere. From Wildlife Management Areas (hunting grounds) to nature preserves. My only recommendation would be to use bigger photos on the pages. As a graphic designer, they seem small.

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