Sunday, January 22, 2012

Franklin Parker Preserve, NJ

Franklin Parker Preserve - New Jersey Conservation Foundation
NJCF Wins Award for Bog Restoration -

Franklin Parker Preserve
GPS Coordinates 39.813677, -74.547471

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Franklin Parker Preserve Trail Map (Black and White) - NJCF
Franklin Parker Preserve Trail Map (Color) - NJCF

10.45 miles
Trail network allows for many shorter loops - see trail maps

The red trail and part of the yellow trail are very scenic footpaths through cedar swamps, pine forests and along the Wading River.  All other trails are packed sand roads through forests, blueberry fields and cranberry bogs.  The trails traverse many swampy areas and there are several water crossings on branches piled across so waterproof hiking shoes are most definitely needed.
Facing the gate, look for the red-blazed trail on the right that goes into the pine forest.
The red-blazed trail follows along Bertha's Canal.
The trail crosses over abandoned railroad tracks.

The combined red and green trails on sand roads through the cranberry bogs.
Observation deck at the cranberry bogs.
Swans in flight.
Swans in the water.
The white-blazed trail leads to Bald Eagle Reservoir.
Bald Eagle Reservoir
An interesting crossing at Bald Eagle Reservoir.
Bald Eagle Reservoir Observation Deck
A blue-blazed connector trail.
Yellow-blazed foot traffic only trail section to and along the West Branch Wading River.
West Branch Wading River
Busy Beavers
The yellow trail meets back up with the red trail via a blue connector trail.
Bridge on the red trail.
The red trail leads back to the parking lot at the opposite side of the gate from where the hike began.
Tracks in the snow.

[  0.00]  Facing the gate, turn right on the red-blazed trail
[  0.35]  Red-blazed trail begins to parallel Bertha's Canal
[  0.70]  Just after conservation easement sign watch for red trail to make sharp left turn before reaching the dam (turn not marked)
[  1.10]  Cross unmarked woods road then abandoned railroad tracks then enters cranberry bogs
[  1.35]  Red trail veers away from bogs back into forest
[  1.55]  Cross foot bridge back towards cranberry bogs then turn right merging with green trail on sand road
[  1.80]  Observation deck
[  2.00]  Pass bench on right
[  2.20]  Turn right on red leaving green as green continues straight
[  2.30]  Turn left at old cinder block building on unmarked, cross over canal then turn right on green (Note: To continue straight on red would involve a canal crossing which is not doable; red meets back up with green the other side of that crossing.)
[  2.45]  Watch for red to come in from the right at canal crossing merge briefly with green then leave to the left - turn left on red here through pygmy pines
[  2.70]  Cross over canal
[  2.85]  Stay on red as it turns left merging with green on sand road then turn right on red as it leaves green as a foot path
[  3.00]  When red crosses over green (sand road) at bird house #13, turn right on green
[  3.05]  Keep left on green at fork when unmarked goes right
[  3.30]  When green turns left over canal, keep straight towards Northgate Road sign so woods are on the left, bogs on the right.
[  3.45]  Green turns right and leads to a cinder block building - keep straight passing by building and two sand roads immediately after the building to the left, one right after the another.  There is no blazing in this section but it is the correct route.
[  3.60]  At next intersection turn left and green blazes resume
[  3.90]  Green trail turns right and crosses canal then turns right again
[  4.05]  Keep straight on white (sand road) when white/green goes left
[  4.25]  Keep straight on white when blue goes left at a bench
[  4.75]  White trail turns left at a bench
[  4.80]  Cross reservoir on concrete squares
[  4.90]  Turn right then left to observation deck; retrace and continue right on white
[  5.05]  Turn right on white after passing observation deck
[  5.45]  White turns left and parallels paved Route 563
[  5.60]  At kiosk turn right on yellow, cross paved Route 563 and continue straight on yellow
[  5.70]  Pass another kiosk and walk around gate, continue briefly then turn left on blue into pine forest
[  6.10]  Blue trail turns right on to a sand road
[  6.30]  Blue trail leaves sand road to the left
[  6.40]  Blue trail ends at the yellow trail, turn left on yellow
[  6.85]  Cross straight over paved Route 563 and continue on yellow
[  7.20]  Yellow trail begins to parallel Wading River
[  7.30]  At clearing keep left (no blazes)
[  7.35]  Yellow blaze visible in opposite direction, at fork veer right - blaze not immediately visible but after a few steps comes into view on right
[  7.95]  At T-intersection yellow turns left away from Wading River; a few steps later yellow turns left again
[  8.10]  At clearing turn right on blue connector trail (sand road) when yellow turns left on sand road
[  8.35]  Turn right on red (foot path) when red crosses over blue
[  8.65]  Cross water on sticks and twigs
[  8.75]  Cross water on sticks and twigs
[  8.80]  Suspension bridge
[  8.95]  Two benches on left
[  9.00]  Hilly section
[  9.10]  Stay on red as it turns right on sand road merging with green briefly then leaves to left downhill as green continues straight on sand road
[  9.30]  Cross water on board
[  9.45]  Red trail skirts clearings
[10.25]  Cross abandoned railroad tracks
[10.45]  Back at parking lot


  1. Wow! I've never seen wild swans. They are amazing, and so are your track photos. Mine never look that good.

  2. I have never seen that many swans at one time nor have I ever seen them flying high like that. I didn't know those were swans in flight until I got home and blew up the picture. What a surprise! And yes, the track photos came out nice, probably because it was fresh snow from the day before. It was really neat seeing where beavers came up out of the bogs and crossed over to the canals. If those were bobcat tracks, I saw them in two different areas following the trail for a very long time before heading off into the woods. Very cool! As much as I dislike snow, it does open up a whole new world you would otherwise never see.


  3. Very thorough, interesting. The tundra swans (I knew them as trumpetor swans, I think, as a 10 year old bird fanatic) captured my imagination on Pinelands and Forsythe hikes with NJ Audubon in recent years, but I have not been to the Pines or near Brigantine to try and observe them in winter when they are there, at least not yet. Son & I did a similar hike at Franklin Parker, summer last year, and the post is on my Litton's Fishing Lines, a blog that addresses more than fishing alone.

    Thanks, appreciate your effort,


  4. Very helpful.. thank you! I stumbled upon this Perserve today (Father's Day) while visiting NJ. My dad, known as "Parker", went to Heaven two years ago, so I believe God brought me there. Your map and information are very helpful, and the photos are excellent! God bless you!

    1. You are very welcome! Some things just can't be brushed off to coincidence. You were meant to be there and glad I was able to assist.