Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve – Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance – 6 miles of trails total (we saw most of the preserve with a hike of 3 1/4 miles)
Type – Web of trails
Difficulty: 3 of 10
Total score: 8 of 10
Website – https://sites.google.com/site/ehtnatres/
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – forest, marsh, lakeside sand.
Surface – mostly dirt surfaces
Trailheads – 39°21’32.48″N, 74°39’4.46″W (parking lot on Zion Road)
39°21’41.77″N, 74°39’21.16″W (parking lot by nature center)
Directions – Nature Reserve Parking Lot, 318 Zion Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Parking – Large lot on Zion Road, another off of School House Road.
Dog friendly? Yes, as long as on a leash.
Stroller friendly? If you have big tires, this should be manageable on several of the trails.
Benches? I don’t remember seeing any.
Facilities?: A port-a-potty in the parking lot. Not sure if facilities are available at the nature center.
Standouts – Beautiful views of the lake, great spot for birding.
Markings – None official, but someone put tape up on the various trails recently, which was helpful. With the web of trails, it would be really great if they officially blazed the trails and had a color-coded trail map.
Description – So last month, the Wife had work Saturday morning, so The Pres, Tree Rider, and I set out for a day of adventuring. Our goal for the day was the Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve, which I’d stumbled upon a few years ago while trying to drive from Ocean City in a blizzard (long story). A glance from the trailhead told me that I had to come back here someday and hike here, and this was the day!
To start, the trails here are only unofficially blazed (and that was a recent job), and are a vast web, so it’s a good idea to either leave a lot of time, or to download a handy, dandy GPS app for your phone to keep track of where you are.
Anyway, enough with all that, let’s reserve some nature!
We headed in from the parking lot on Zion Road, heading right and taking the trail along the rim of the lake area. You can tell its a good sized drop to the bottom, because the reserve has a designated sledding hill (complete with steps to help you get back up) that, from all reports, is awesome.
At this point, we took a sharp right turn to check out the woods side of the park first. We headed down the trail and quickly lost sight of the large, manmade lake. On the map, this would be the first right that you can make.
The trail looped around, and we headed due north until the trail hit a “T” intersection. There, we turned left and soon found ourself peeking through the trees back out at the lake again.
We headed back into the woods, meandering through the web of trails until we hit the powerline cut, which separates the main part of the park from a little offshoot north of the power lines.
We opted to skip the part across the power line cut, instead turning left and walking along the power lines. We turned left to get back into the woods, but managed to backtrack to where we’d already been, so we came back up to the powerline cut via a different trail.
Now I knew exactly where we were, so we headed left and walked down to where the power lines near the lake. A jog in the trail put us on the back end of that lake, still up high on the rim.
We followed the rim about halfway down the back end, dodging a monster tree and checking out some old concrete pipes along the way. Then we opted to drop down the steep slope to get a close up look at the lake.
Being by the side of the lake let us pick up the trail down there AND put us closer to the birds in the lake, which made The Pres really happy. The lake is dotted with islands, some of which have large pipes on them, which makes for some interesting views. From here on out, the trail wanders along the edge of the lake. We went around the back corner, and made out way toward the the Nature Center, eventually arriving to some chunks of bog iron that are on the lakeside.
From here, we rounded the final corner and slowly climbed above the lake, arriving shortly back at the parking lot. The total hike had been 3 1/4 miles, a good stretch of the legs.
Despite the damp and the fog, this was a great hike. I loved the differences between the lake part of the hike and the forest, and both left plenty to look out for. There is also a short nature trail to the left of the lake that we didn’t get to, so really a bit of everything. This one will definitely make our top 10 for 2017.
Nearby – Estell Manor County Park is relatively nearby.