Summit Trail, NW Loop Trail, and Ridge Trail – Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain – Titusville, Mercer County, NJ
Distance: 4 1/2 miles (12 miles of trails in the park)
Type: Loop (more trails we did not get to hike)
Difficulty: 7 of 10.
Total score: 8 of 10.
Terrain – hills, forests, fields
Trailheads – 40° 19.107′N, 74° 53.433′W (Parking lot at start of Summit Trail). Other parking areas and trailheads in the park.
Directions: Located off of Fiddler’s Creek Road.
Standouts – nice 350+ foot climb, view from the top!
Markings – Colored blazes (blue for Summit Trail, white for Ridge Trail, red for NW Loop Trail)
NOTE: BE CAREFUL!!! Hunting is allowed in this park during season, so it’s recommended that you do not hike on days where hunting may be taking place in the park (roughly November to February). There is no hunting on Sundays in New Jersey, so Sundays are clear year round.
Description: I’d heard a rumor that there was a mountain in South Jersey with nearly a 400 foot climb. More unbelievably, this was supposedly located mere miles from Trenton. What more do you need to drag you into an adventure?
Thus, one gorgeous Saturday in early October, my old roommate Skunk, the Pres, and I set off to find this mysterious mountain. And find it we did, located at the Ted Stiles Preserve in Titusville, just a few minutes from Washington’s Crossing.
Heading up from the parking lot, the first thing that we noticed was the rocks, a rare sight on the trails that we’re all used to. We pushed further down the trail, which began to climb and climb and climb. The rocks became more and more common, until the trail was nothing but rocks. Steep inclines had rock stairs crafted into the trail to make the climbing easier. It reminded me of the Appalachian Trail, which is a thought I never thought I’d express about a trail this close to our state’s capital.
The trail crossed a road, climbed through a field (you can see the park headquarters across said field), then reached the summit. While far from the most spectacular view I’ve had it my life, it was some serious view for this far south in New Jersey. The climb was something over 300 feet, and I was proud The Pres had done it like it was nothing.
We admired the view and celebrated with sips of water and some pretzel sticks. The Pres seemed well rested, and the climb hadn’t taken too long, so we decided to head down the white blazed ridge trail for a spell. After a few tenths of a mile, we made a left onto the red blazed loop trail. That began to drop us down in elevation. We followed the trail down, then across the lower part of the mountain, talked to some Scouts on a warm up backpacking hike (Troop 1776 of Titusville, NJ, I was seriously impressed by some of the cool trips they’ve done, like backpacking in California and Oregon and canoeing in Ontario. If you are from around Trenton and have a son in the right age range, check them out!) then back up at least 200 feet to the ridge to complete the loop with the white trail.
We stopped by the park office, which was closed, and checked out a few of the cool buildings in the complex.
Then we reconnected with the Summit Trail, headed down to the parking lot, and took stock of our hike. Overall, somewhere around 500 to 600 feet of elevation climbs, 4 1/2 miles of walking, and some great scenery. The Pres had refused to ride in the carrier pack at all, finishing the whole thing himself, climbs and all. That’s pretty ridiculous for a 2 1/2 year old. He celebrated by running around in circles in the parking lot (seriously).
Overall recommendation: I LOVED this hike. Elevation so close to home! A view from a mountain top! And there are several more miles of trails on the east end of the park that we didn’t get to see, which means more exploring in the future!
Nearby: Washington’s Crossing is mere minutes away. Skunk and The Pres had never been, so we went over to take a look.