Eldora Nature Preserve – Delmont (Maurice River Township), Cumberland County, NJ
Distance – 2.8 miles of trails (official). We did 3.0 miles of trails (with slight overlap).
Type – Series of loops.
Difficulty: 3 of 10
Total score: 5 of 10
Website – The Nature Conservancy
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Woods, marsh, and a bit of swamp.
Surface – Mostly dirt.
Trailheads – 39°13’2.81″N, 74°55’18.94″W (at back of parking lot)
Directions – 2350 NJ-47, Delmont, NJ 08314
Parking – Decent sized lot
Dog friendly? No dogs allowed
Stroller friendly? No.
Benches? A few scattered ones
Facilities?: Building was not open, so unknown.
Standouts – Nice views of West Creek, endangered moths, and good birding.
Markings – Painted blazes, signs at intersections
Map – Map can be found here.
Description – So back on President’s Day Weekend, we spent Sunday checking out the Eldora Nature Preserve. We had tried to hike here the previous winter, but it was closed for hunting, so we were happy to see it was open this time!
So what makes this place special? Moths. No, seriously, this isn’t one of my little jokes. There are some endangered moths that live here. So thank you moths for encouraging the saving of this land (I never thought I’d thank a moth).
Anyway, we opted to follow the exterior of the Yellow, Blue, and Red Trails to cover the perimeter of the preserve, which seemed like a great idea until I remembered that I hadn’t brought the “baby” (almost three year old?) carrier. We figured it was only 2.3 miles, so we decided to go for it anyway.
We headed up the spur of the Yellow Trail, crossed over some wet area, and arrived at the first intersection.
At the first intersection, we went left onto the Blue Trail. A short while later (and a few more boardwalks) brought us to the next intersection, where we turned left to walk out on the boardwalk to the view point over West Creek.
After this, it was straight back down the boardwalk to the last intersection, where we headed straight (what would have originally been a right). Almost immediately, we turned left onto the Red Trail, the outermost trail of the system.
The official map lists the Red Trail as 1.6 miles, and another map located at the preserve (but not at the trailhead) listed it as 2.04 miles. From the total not matching of our final numbers for this trail (pretty much exactly 3 miles) and the official distance for the outside loop (2.3 miles), I’d have to say that weird mystery map might be the accurate one, and the Red Trail really is just over two miles.
Finally, we reached the end of the Red Trail and turned left onto the Blue Trail. Yay! It would be a very short distance until the Blue Trail dead ended into the Yellow Trail, where we headed left again.
By this point, the sun was really low. But it was 70 degrees in February, so who cares? We marched onward. The Yellow Trail came down to the road, where it then turned and headed straight back away from the road and around some emptier fields.
From the fields, the Yellow Trail reentered the woods, where it passed a small lake before intersecting with… the Yellow Trail! (huh?). We turned left onto the Yellow Trail, and at the intersection pretty much immediately after that turned left to rejoin the initial stretch of Yellow Trail that had brought us into the Preserve.
With the sun nearly gone and temperatures plummeting from 70 degrees to maybe like 68 degrees, we emerged from the woods and realized something… TREE RIDER HAD HIKED THREE WHOLE MILES!
Now, I love my children equally (at least when neither one is yelling), but Tree Rider is almost never in my pictures because, even though he is nearing three, he is still being carried around in the pack. He’s only done over a mile maybe four times in his life. I was very spoiled by The Pres, who is a total weirdo and hiked 4 1/2 miles days after he turned two.
So very proud of Tree Rider for doing such an awesome job to go THREE MILES! Good job dude.
Overall recommendation: This is not my favorite hike in the area, but its a solid hike with a nice view of the creek, some beautiful forest, and a touch of marsh. On a beautiful 70 degree day in February, it was perfect.
Nearby – Belleplain State Forest with its 10,000,000 miles of trails (check source) is right around the corner.