Historic Smithville Park Trails – Eastampton, Burlington County, NJ
Distance – 4.1 miles of trails
Type: Out & Back or Loop. We made a 3 mile loop or so of the Red and Green our first time here, and did 2 miles with the Ravine Trail and wandering around our second time here.
Hours: 8AM to dusk. The mansion grounds are open weekdays, 8AM to 5PM. Mansion tours are also available on Wednesdays and Sundays from May through October, and Holiday tours in December.
Difficulty: 3 out of 10.
Total score: 9 of 10.
Updated: January 7, 2016
Terrain – Woods, riverside, and right on top of the pond. Some elevation change on the Green and Blue trails.
Surface – mostly dirt, some concrete
Trailheads – Smith’s Woods Parking Lot (Red Trail and Orange Butterfly Garden Trail) – 39°58’46.50″N, 74°44’34.17″W
Behind Mansion Complex (Red Trail) – 39°59’8.75″N, 74°45’3.11″W
Blue Trail (Next to picnic area) – 39°59’9.28″N, 74°45’6.11″W
Directions – 801 Smithville Rd, Mt Holly, NJ 08060
Parking – Plenty of large parking lots by the village and on the opposite side at Smiths Woods.
Dog friendly? Yes, but must be on leashes
Stroller friendly? Most of the park is
Benches? Yes, along the trails
Facilities?: Yes – by playground and at the visitors center in the village
Standouts: The floating trail section of the green trail is the big draw for me in this park. It’s a section with pontoons stretching across the mill pond. As a history guy, the factory and mansion complexes are also awesome and well worth checking out. More on the history below.Bonuses: Historical markers galore, picnic tables, a really nice playground, fishing, biking, special events, a canoe trail, birdwatching, nice bathrooms, a butterfly garden, and much more. Overall, a really great park.
Markings – paint marks on trees, signs at trail heads and major intersections.
Description: Smithville was the site of various enterprises over the centuries, but was built up in the 1880s by a man named Hezekiah Smith. He started making machinery and eventually ended up making Star bicycles (an early bike with the one big wheel and one little wheel). He was a wildly successful businessman, member of the state legislature, and a bit of a weirdo. How so? Oh, and he had a couple of moose trained to pull his carriage. That’s right, moose-drawn carriage. After his death, they built a bicycle railroad (sadly no longer standing) for his workers to get to work from Mt Holly. Maybe there was something in the water..
He also built a model industrial village here for his workers to live in, parts of which are still standing.
Sadly, I started a hiking blog and not a “let’s talk about a guy with a thing for moose propelled vehicles” blog, so let’s move on.
Red and Green Trails – 2.6 miles officially:
The park itself is large and extremely well laid out. Our first trip here, we decided to walk the trails in a loop. We started by walking the red trail down over some short bridges, along the river, and through the woods. This section is very woodsy, exactly what you’d expect out of a nice little hike through the woods. There are some lovely trees, some pretty flowers, and some views of Rancocas Creek.
You’ll end by passing over Smithville Lake and arriving at the bridge over Rancocas Creek, the official end of the Red Trail. You could cross the bridge here to access the mansion (in warm seasons and during the Christmas season), historical village, bathrooms, and the blue Ravine Trail (see later in this post).
But right here at the end of the Red Trail (and between the starts of the Green Trail, which on either end of the parking lot here) is my favorite part – the old factory complex.
When you’ve had your fill of history and old buildings, it’s time to hit the green trail. The green trail pretty much immediately emerges onto Smithville Lake. You can check out the views of the lake from the fishing piers first. Then backtrack down the red trail across the bridge to see the rest of the green trail. It follows the shore of the lake, then crosses over it on a pontoon bridge. Seriously awesome.
After the pontoon bridge, head down the steps and to the right. There’s a small loop through the woods above the lake, then retrace your steps to the last section of the green trail, which heads down to meet up with the other trailhead of the red trail. If it sounds a bit confusing, that’s because it was a bit, check out the map at the top. Following the map, it’s pretty easy to meet back up and follow the trail. Once on the Red trail, it’s a walk near the road down and around until you reach the parking lot by the playground where we started off at.
Ravine Trail (Blue) – 1.0 mile total round trip
My third trip to Smithville, I decided that I had better do the Ravine Trail so that I could collect ’em all. This trail is on the edge of the park, and is right near people’s homes, but is somehow still wilder than the rest of the park, with short climbs in and out of a ravine.
The trail starts next to the picnic area on the town side of Rancocas Creek.
The trail will then climb a set of steps before looking down a steep drop at Rancocas Creek.
The trail will then meet the road, and you’ll cross straight across. It will make a sharp left and follow the fence along the road, then turn right and journey a short way across the edge of the farm fields to enter the woods.
Once in the woods, the trail begins to cross a series of bridges, slowly dropping down to the bottom of the ravine. Eventually, the trail splits, forming a small loop on the end of the trail.
I chose to go right, but it really doesn’t matter which way you go, you’ll be back here very quickly.
Once at the end of the loop, you just backtrack the way that you came until you come back to the picnic area.
Overall a really nice hike, and you could easily spend a good chunk of a day here with all that there is to do.