Monday, January 24, 2011

Estell Manor Park, Atlantic County, NJ

ABOUT THE PARK:  Estelle Manor Park, Atlantic County Recreation and Leisure

Nature Center parking lot:
GPS Coordinates: 39.396375,-74.743123

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TRAIL MAP:  Estell Manor Park Trail Map
Although the map shows names for all of the trails, names are inconsistently noted throughout the park.  All trails are blazed with the same white metal marker, not distinguished by color.  Be sure to print the map or grab a copy just inside the nature center on the left opposite the rest rooms.

HIKE DISTANCE:  9 miles; network of woods roads and boardwalks allow for various lengths

If hiking here during hunting season, be sure to hike on Sundays or call the park in advance to find out if the trails are open as most of the park is closed to hikers when hunting is taking place.

The hiking trails start at the far side of the Nature Center by turning right on a paved trail, heading towards the back of the Nature Center.  A short distance ahead the trail forks, the left fork goes to the 1.8 mile boardwalk, the right fork to the fitness trail.  For this hike take the right fork which leads to an observation deck at Stephen's Pond.
Paved trail next to nature center.
Ruins along trail.
Observation deck at Stephen's Pond.
Stephen's Pond view from observation deck.
The hike then follows a short distance along a fitness trail then out to the less manicured part of the park to a clearing which was the site of an old Native American village, along a field with several bird observation blinds, then to the 1.8 mile boardwalk over swamps.
Side sections of the boardwalk lead to views of the South River.
At the end of the boardwalk, Smith Ireland Cemetery on the left with tombstones dated in the early 1800's...
... and on the right, Artesian well ruins
Old packed sand roads run through the northern section of the park along with mountain bike trails.
This land was the site of a glassworks in the 1800's and later a munitions plant during World War 1.  Ruins and foundations along old sand packed roads are are found throughout the center section.

[  0.00]  Right on paved path at far side of nature center; right at split; right at second split on Pond Trail (unmarked) with pond on right
[  0.30]  Straight on Pond Trail when Laurel Trail goes left (marked); trail comes in from right; picnic area on right; trail veers left over bridge; keep right at intersection other side of bridge
[  0.50]  Keep left at split rail fence where bridge goes to the right and ruins ahead; fitness trail begins (called Exercise Trail on map)
[  0.60]  Right at intersection (Center Trail - unmarked); cross paved park road, proceed straight (sign with trail names as park road intersection)
[  0.75]  Turn left to observation deck at Stephen's Creek; retrace steps
[  0.95]  Cross paved park road; continue straight to right on fitness trail
[  1.55]  Right at intersection on ; cross paved park road; veer left briefly then right on Oak Barrel Tree Road (unmarked) trail
[  1.75]  Turn right at intersection (#23 on tree) on Cribbers Road (unmarked)
[  1.95]  Arrive at clearing of Native American village site; retrace
[  2.20]  Keep straight on Cribbers Road (unmarked) at intersection with Oak Barrel Tree Road (unmarked)
[  2.30]  Go either way at fork - comes back together on same trail
[  2.45]  Cribber's Field on left with bird blinds
[  2.85]  Turn right at intersection on to boardwalk; keep straight at split
[  3.10]  Keep straight on boardwalk when Sand Hole Road (marked) and an unmarked trail go left
[  3.50]  Keep straight when boardwalk splits to left
[  3.55]  Keep straight when Frog Pond Road (marked) goes left
[  3.95]  Right on side trail to South River view (not on map)
[  4.15]  Right on side trail to second South River view (not on map)
[  4.25]  Smith Ireland Cemetery on left (tombstones from early 1800's); back on boardwalk briefly to artesian well on right; walk straight by river access on gravel road; straight by road to right with metal barrier; keep straight on Smokeless Powder Trail (unmarked) when Camping Loop Road (unmarked) turns sharply to the left
[  4.55]  Go straight beyond two posts with wire barrier joining briefly with mountain bike trail
[  4.65]  Right at intersection on Duck Farm Road (marked)
[  4.95]  Keep straight on Duck Farm Road at intersection where North End Trail goes left (marked); at next split go either way - meets back up
[  5.40]  Turn left at intersection with mountain bike trail (turn left where tree has both park and mountain bike blazes); trail will follow between two mountain bike trails.  If you miss turn you will know right away as the trail becomes an obvious mountain bike track
[  5.90]  Left at intersection
[  5.95]  Keep straight as mountain bike trail crosses over; trail is hard packed sand covered with pine needles
[  6.30]  Right on Duck Farm Road at #200 on tree
[  6.60]  Keep straight at intersection
[  6.75]  Cross metal barrier and keep left on woods road, not mountain bike trails
[  6.90]  Cross Artesian Well Road following sign for North End Trail
[  7.00]  Stay on North End Trail through parking lot and beyond barrier
[  7.15]  Left at unmarked intersection on Store House Road
[  7.25]  Straight at unmarked intersection where Rabbit Square Trail comes in from left
[  7.40]  Straight at unmarked intersection where Change House Trail comes in from left; trail becomes swampy
[  7.50]  At t-intersection turn right on marked Oak Ridge Trail; pass ponds on right
[  7.70]  Trail becomes boardwalk; first intersection right on Frog Pond Road, next intersection, left on Crossover Trail (unmarked)
[  7.90]  Straight at unmarked intersection of Eight Inch Road; short distance ahead veer left as unmarked Tin Box Road goes right
[  8.05]  Straight over TNT Road at unmarked intersection
[  8.20]  Keep right at unmarked intersection when unmarked Highbank Trail goes left; few steps ahead left on unmarked Sand Hole Road at yield sign
[  8.35]  Left at intersection briefly then right on boardwalk
[  8.55]  Keep right on boardwalk as unmarked Cribbers Road trail is straight ahead
[  8.70]  Jog right off boardwalk then left back on to boardwalk
[  8.80]  Cross paved park road to continuation of boardwalk
[  9.00]  Arrive at paved trail behind Nature Center and follow to parking lot

Sunday, January 16, 2011

French Creek State Park, PA and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, PA

French Creek State Park - Pennsylvania DCNR
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site - National Park Service

Although there are several parking options along this route, the Shed Road lot is large, has easy access to trails, and was accessible and plowed when I was there after a snow storm 4 days prior.  
GPS Coordinates 40.217513, -75.775452

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French Creek State Park Trail Map
I did find this map somewhat confusing to follow with trail names instead of colors so I colored in the trails to illustrate more clearly. 

HIKE DISTANCE:  8.85 miles (plus .7 miles walking around Hopewell Village)

This hike starts in French Creek State Park, goes through Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, then finishes through French Creek State Park.  From the Shed Road parking area, cross over Shed Road; cross to the other side of the barrier; turn left on the white with red stripe/green trail.
The hike will follow the white with red stripe Mill Creek Trail for a little over 4 miles.
White with Red Stripe Mill Creek Trail
Miller's Point
Mill Creek
Limited Seasonal Views Along Mill Creek Trail

Yellow with Red Stripe Buzzards Trail
Walk Along Hopewell Road Crossing Route 345 to Hopewell Village
Restrooms at Far End of Hopwell Furnace Administrative Building
Note this sign at intersection at the admin building - return here after exploring Hopewell Village.
Dogs are not allowed in buildings so we peeked in from the outside.
 After returning back to the Reading/Valley Forge sign, the gravel road blazed intermittently in green takes you to the white-circle-blazed Collier Trail, then the green-blazed Lenape Trail, back to the parking lot.

[  0.00]  Cross Shed Road; left on white with red stripe combined with green trail
[  0.30]  Keep straight on white with red stripe as green goes right
[  0.70]  Cross power cut
[  1.00]  White with red stripe trail slits - go left
[  1.80]  Miller's Point
[  2.15]  Left on white with red stripe where blue/red trail comes in from the right
[  2.50]  Cross small creek
[  2.75]  Cross small creek
[  2.85]  Cross Mill Creek; keep left on white with red stripe when red comes in from right
[  3.00]  White with red stripe trail makes sharp right turn
[  3.20]  Stay left as unmarked trail goes right
[  3.55]  White with red stripe trail leaves woods road to the right
[  4.35]  Left on yellow with red stripe Buzzards Trail just over top of the hill
[  4.50]  Yellow with red stripe trail splits - go left
[  5.05]  At top of hill left on yellow with red stripe as unmarked goes straight
[  5.90]  Yellow with red stripe trail splits - go left
[  6.25]  Welcome to Hopewell Furnace sign at park boundary
[  6.45]  Keep straight when yellow comes in from right; few steps then turn left at unmarked trail junction
[  6.60]  Cross bridge keep following unmarked trail
[  6.80]  Turn right crossing bridge; then turn left towards paved Hopewell Road
[  6.90]  Turn right and walk along paved Hopewell Road (intermittent green blazes on trees); cross Route 345; continue along Hopwell Road
[  7.25]  Left on gravel road at Admin Office sign with green blaze on tree
[  7.40]  Restrooms at for end of admin office; note Reading/Valley Forge sign at intersection and return to that point after exploring Hopewell Village; continue along green blazed gravel road in the direction of Reading.
[  7.45]  Keep straight at intersection with blue trail, take a few steps then turn right on white circle Collier Trail
[  7.80]  Cross paved park road and continue on white circle trail
[  8.25]  Right on green trail where white trail joins green trail to the left
[  8.75]  Cross intersection of Route 345/Shed Road and continue on green trail; turn left at information board; cross Shed Road at other side of barrier
[  8.85]  Arrive back at parking lot

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Merrill Creek Reservoir, NJ

ABOUT THE PARK:  Merrill Creek Reservoir

GPS Coordinates  40.742477,-75.091381

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TRAIL MAP:  Merrill Creek Reservoir Trail Map

HIKE DISTANCE: 5.85 miles

I don't recommend doing this hike on a frigid winter day with 20 mph winds and sub zero wind chill factor - in the woods it's not bad at all but there are multiple dams to cross where you are completely exposed with nothing to block the wind and that is brutal!

The trails start behind the visitor's center.  On a less windy day I would have explored more of the trails but I ended up taking the more direct route to the black-blazed perimeter trail which was blue to yellow to black.   Then it's simply following the black trail around the reservoir.

There are bird feeders outside the visitor's center.  I noticed something odd out of the corner of my eye and went to investigate.  There stood two small deer among all of the birds.  They  looked up at me briefly then continued eating bird seed from the ground. 

[  0.00]  Take the blue trail from behind the visitor's center
[  0.70]  Right on blue/yellow when yellow joins in from left
[  0.85]  Right on yellow when blue goes left
[  1.15]  Left on black over bridge when yellow goes straight
[  1.90]  Cross NW2 Dike then NW1 Dike
[  3.95]  Cross main dam
[  5.60]  At boat ramp trail goes along road then across bridge and up steps
[  5.70]  Turn left on black as black/green goes right
[  5.85]  Visitor Center/Parking Lot

Monday, January 3, 2011

Harriman State Park, NY - Lake Skannatati/Lake Askoti/Hansenclever Mine/Old Cemetery

ABOUT THE PARK:  Harriman State Park

GPS 41.242389,-74.102401

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TRAIL MAP:  NY/NJ Trail Conference Norther Harriman Bear Mountain Trails Map 119

HIKE DISTANCE:  6.2 miles

I had intended to follow the 8.4 mile Red Cross/Beech Trail and Long Path Loop from Lake Skannatati as described on the NY/NJ Trail Conference site but had to reroute to avoid following bear tracks in the snow, cutting off a little over 2 miles of the loop.

From the parking lot start steeply uphill on the inverted red triangle trail.
Near the top of the climb watch for the red cross trailhead and make note of where it is as you will be backtracking to that trail soon.  Continue straight ahead to a view of Lake Skannatati.
Backtrack a very short distance and turn left on the red cross trail.
Cross over Seven Lakes Drive then past Lake Askoti on the right.
Cross the inlet stream to Lake Askoti:
At 2.3 miles reach an intersection with the Hansenclever Road (woods road).  The water filled pit is what remains of the main opening of the Hansenclever Mine.
At this point to follow the NY/NJ Trail Conference directions you would turn left to continue on the red cross trail.  The only prints in the snow going in that direction, however, were these...
Seems all of the human footprints turned around and headed back at this point.  Not wanting to follow behind a bear I turned right on the unmarked Hansenclever Road instead.  This cut off a little over 2 miles of the loop.  At 3.05 miles I met up with the blue-blazed Beech Trail as it crossed over Hansenclever Road.  A right turn on the blue trail put me where I needed to be to continue following the NY/NJ Trail Conference directions.
At 3.45 miles arrive at an old cemetery with tombstones dated in the 1800's.
At 5.05 miles turn right on the aqua-blazed Long Path.
At 6.10 miles cross over Seven Lakes Drive and walk along Lake Skannatati back to the parking lot.

[  0.00]  Take inverted red triangle trail (to the right of the aqua Long Path) from parking lot
[  0.30]  Arrive at scenic overlook; backtrack short distance to red cross trail
[  0.35]  Left on red cross trail
[  0.85]  Cross over Seven Lakes Drive
[  1.60]  Cross power cut
[  2.05]  Cross over wooden foot bridge
[  2.10]  Left on red cross trail where unmarked trail comes in from the right
[  2.35]  Hansenclever mine; turn right on Hansenclever Road (woods road)
[  3.05]  Right on blue-blazed Beech Trail
[  3.45]  Old cemetary on right
[  4.40]  Blue trail leaves woods road on foot path to the left
[  4.50]  Cross over Route 106
[  5.05]  Blue trail terminates; turn right on aqua-blazed Long Path
[  5.65]  Right on Route 106 for 250 ft then continue on aqua-blazed Long Path to the left
[  5.90]  Cross power cut
[  6.10]  Cross over Seven Lakes Drive
[  6.20]  Arrive back at parking lot