Lake Narraticon – Swedesboro Lake Park, Swedesboro, Gloucester County, NJ
Distance: 1.4 miles (ish)
Type – Lollipop/out-and-back
Difficulty: 3 of 10
Total score: 7 of 10
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – lake side, hills, and old woodlands
Trailheads – 39°44’27.24″N, 75°18’21.56″W – starts at car gate, paved for first small stretch
Directions – Turn onto Park Ave from Lake Ave. Drive all the way down Park Ave and the road will dead end in the parking lot. Do NOT turn into the cemetery. You’ll know you’ve gone the right way when you see a huge, colorful welcome sign.
Standouts – Nice climb, beautiful lakeside views
Markings – Markings on trees, but they are either really faded or not put on by the park system. Just follow the clear pathway, this is obviously used a lot.
Description – The summer of stay-at-home-dadding continued yesterday, as The Pres, Tree Rider, and I headed down to Swedesboro to check out Lake Narraticon. After not doing very many hikes in Gloucester County due to not wanting to deal with Rt 55 traffic after work, I’m sure taking advantage of that whole “go in the morning after traffic dies down”. It’s great!
Anyway, we got down there early before the heat kicked in, pulling into the large parking lot at the trailhead. You’ll walk through the car gate and immediately see the pavillion (not lightning proof! The sign says so), two playgrounds, and a dock. You’ll walk down past the playgrounds, and straight across the field area, paralleling the lake.
You will notice a bridge to your right as you walk. We made a right turn here and headed uphill on the trail. I wouldn’t bother to head up that way just now, lots of tree blockage (storms? purposeful to close the trail? Either way, save your time).
You, having not made the same mistake we did, will simply head straight across the correct bridge. On the other side will be steps, take them up, up, and more up. You’ll get a pretty good height above the lake very quickly.
The top of the hill is a lollipop. The trail curves around, then after a while, makes an obvious split. You can go right or left (we went left), but it really doesn’t matter, it will loop around to the same spot. There are a few “fakeout” trails, just be careful about which direction you are headed in and you should be okay (you can see on our tracking in the map section that we have a few little “nubs” where we peeked down the side trails).
You’ll get some partial views of the lake from up here, and we saw some pretty awesome birds from up high. There are also some brush piles that The Pres enjoyed.
When you’re done the loop, the stick of the lollipop will take you back to the steps.
Back to the steps, down, down, down, and time to check out the lake and playground. The lake features benches, a fishing dock, and a boating dock with an awesome boat launch helped that I’ve never seen before. This lake is VERY popular for kayaking and canoeing, and the town even has days where residents can come out and learn how for free.
Tree Rider and The Pres threw rocks in the lake, then settled in to thoroughly examine each playground. That kept them busy for a half hour or so.
On the way back to the car, we noticed that the trail winds along the lake for a short time on the other side of the parking lot. Why not?
Nearby – Trinity Episcopal “Old Swedes” Church is at 1208 Kings Hwy and Schorn Log Cabin right next door. Beautiful church that was one of the (The?) first Lutheran Churches in New Jersey way back in 1703 (current building is from 1783) with a historical graveyard to match, including the graves of two generals (one Civil War, one Spanish-American War) and two congressmen, one of whom also served as the governor of the great state of New Jersey.
Next door to the property is one of the oldest log cabins in the country, built in the early, early, early 1700s.
And, sadly, my pictures of the church and cabin are on my old, broken computer. Someday, I will rescue them.