Wednesday, March 27, 2013

D&R Canal State Park, NJ - Amwell Road to Blackwells Mills

Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park

GPS Coordinates 40.503477, -74.582888

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Amwell Road (Route 514) Parking Lot - this picture is from a previous hike.  On this particular day this lot was closed.
Alternate parking on the other side of the canal on the corner of Amwell Road and Canal Road.

D&R Canal State Park Map

4 miles total out and back (2 miles each way)

Shawnee and I were joined by Rambo, a little dog staying with us for the week.
Recently awakened from hibernation.
Almost ran into this hawk sitting right on the side of the trail.  Turns out he had been eating lunch.
Waiting on the other side of the canal for us to leave so he could return and finish eating.
Coming up on Blackwells Mills.
Crossing over the canal ...
... to the Canal House.
Heading back to Amwell Road.
We ran right into that hawk again, totally engrossed in his lunch.
Hard to tell if he was sizing up Rambo as possible dessert or if he was guarding his lunch.  We were only about 10 feet from him and he would not budge.  After waiting a good 15 minutes, I picked up a large tree branch so I would have something to ward him off with if he decided to get upset about us passing but as soon as I lifted the branch, he took off.
Back at Amwell Road with construction in the parking lot across the street.
Crossing over the canal on Amwell Road.
Back to the small park on the corner.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Evansburg State Park, PA

Evansburg State Park - PA DCNR

GPS Coordinates 40.200286, -75.401290

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This is a parking area at the Visitor/Nature Center.  I had intended to park in one of the other lots but trail signage is virtually non-existent so if you don't know where the trail is, it's hard to find from other lots.  I ended up heading to the Visitor Center where it was easier to pick up the trail.

Evansburg State Park Trail Map - PA DCNR

Skippack Creek Loop Only - 5 miles
Northern out-and-back trail - add 2.6 miles
Southern out-and-back trail - add 1.5 miles

The trails in this park are inconsistently blazed - sometimes lots of different blazes, other times no blazes at all.  There are very few signs with trail names and no signs at intersections.  But don't let that dissuade you.  This is a gorgeous hike, feels unbelievably remote, and once on the trails, they are well maintained and easy to follow.
To find the trail, walk towards the visitor center ...
... then turn left into the garden to pick up the Old Farmstead Trail (not on map)
The Old Farmstead Trail exits the garden, crosses a long bridge, then descends behind the Visitor Center.  There are some round trail markers but they are not consistent.
The Old Farmstead Trail meets up with the Skippack Creek Trail at Skippack Creek.  This is the only intersection sign.
The trail follows closely along Skippack Creek.
The trail crosses a wooden bridges, merges to the right with a horse trail, then leaves the horse trail to the left after a short distance.  There are no signs but there is a post and some blazes, you just have to watch for it.
The trail comes out into a field and abruptly ends.  There are no signs.  Turn right along the field back towards the creek then left along the creek on the horse trail.
The horse trail is going to be a lot muddier than the hiking only trail.
There are several stream crossings on the horse trail.
Shortly after crossing a power cut, there is a fork in the trail.  To continue on the Skippack Loop Trail, veer right, work your way around the guardrail and cross Skippack Creek on the Kratz Road bridge where there is plenty of room to walk.  The trail continues to the right through the parking lot at the far end of the bridge.  There are no signs.  Or keep left to continue on the horse trail along Skippack Creek for an out-and-back before continuing the loop.
An alternate way to the Kratz Road bridge is to keep left at the fork a short distance, then turn right on the old paved road which ends at Kratz Road, then right on Kratz Road to cross the bridge.  Cross the olf paved road to continue on the horse trail.
The horse trail continues along Skippack Creek.  It is very pretty and quiet in this area.
It is pretty obvious where the trail ends - this is where you would need to ford this side creek then Skippack Creek to get to the trail on the other side going back - if you were a horse or on one.  But without that option, retracing is the only way.
Heading back.
Crossing the Kratz Road bridge to continue on the Skippack Creek Loop Trail.
Skippack Creek from the bridge.
After the bridge, turn right into the parking lot then continue between the kiosk and the interpretive sign.  There are no signs or blazes indicating that this is the continuation of the Skippack Creek Loop Trail but it is.
The trail becomes even more scenic in this area.
The first flower on the first day of spring.
Red-bellied Woodpecker
The trail ends at a paved road.  No signs, nothing.  On the map it looks like the trail continues parallel to the road.  Turns out, the road is the trail.  No cars passed us to it's not a high traffic road at all.
This pedestrian bridge over Skippack Creek signals the end of the road walk and the continuation of the Skippack Creek Loop (no sign) or ...
... continue straight for the southern out-and-back portion.  The map shows this as a horse trail but it is actually a hiking trail.
Mourning Dove
Mallard Ducks
The trail continues to follow along Skippack Creek all the way out.  When the trail ends at a horse trail it's time to turn around.
Belted Kingfisher
I did not see these on the way out but they were all over the place on the way back.
Now rejoining the Skippack Creek Loop on the pedestrian bridge over Skippack Creek.
At the other side of the bridge turn right on a footpath (no sign, no blazes) which leads to an intersection with all kinds of blazes.  Turn right and this will be the Mill Race Trail, mostly blazed in light blue.
Pass behind this sign then the blazes become white diamonds and sometimes yellow rectangles.
Some views from the top of the Skippack Creek gorge.
And back down to Skippack Creek for a last opportunity to wash off some of that mud picked up along the trail.
The trail connects back to that intersection with the name post from the beginning of the hike.  Turn left on the Old Farmstead Trail to return to the Visitor Center.
Back at the bridge to the Visitor Center.

[  0.00]  Walk towards the visitor center, turn left on the Old Farmstead Trail through the garden just before the building, exit garden fence and continue across long bridge
[  0.30]  At intersection with trail name post, turn left on Skippack Creek Trail
[  0.40]  Cross footbridge, keep right on horse trail with some yellow blazes
[  0.50]  Watch for the footpath to leave the horse trail uphill to the left
[  0.70]  Turn right at open field
[  0.75]  At end of field keep right to footpath leading down to Skippack Creek
[  0.80]  Turn left and follow horse trail along Skippack Creek
[  1.60]  Pass through power cut
[  1.65]  Keep right at fork to Kratz Road Bridge for Skippack Creek Trail, keep left to continue on horse trail
[  1.75]  Cross old paved road; keep right at fork downhill and cross small creek
[  1.90]  Cross Kratz Road and proceed right along field (trail shows on wrong side of Kratz Road on map)
[  2.20]  Trail meets back up with Skippack Creek
[  2.25]  Trail goes through power cut
[  2.65]  Rock hop twice over side creek
[  2.95]  Retrace when trail ends at creek
[  3.60]  Trail goes back through power cut
[  4.00]  Cross Kratz Road
[  4.10]  Turn left on old paved road then right on Kratz Road and cross Kratz Road Bridge
[  4.25]  Turn right into parking lot other side of bridge and continue on hiking trail between kiosk and interpretive sign
[  4.30]  Cross through power cut
[  4.65]  Some yellow blazes where hemlocks start, then follow white painted arrows to the left

[  5.25]  Trail turns left and crosses horse trail
[  5.60]  Cross horse trail
[  6.00]  Trail ends at paved Water Street, turn right and walk on paved road
[  6.20]  Pass large parking lot on left
[  6.40]  Turn right on pedestrian bridge or continue straight on hiking path (shown as horse trail on map)
[  7.15]  Continuing straight, turnaround point is when hiking trail runs into horse trail, retrace
[  7.90]  Turn left and cross pedestrian bridge
[  8.00]  Turn right on footpath after crossing bridge; keep left at fork
[  8.10]  Keep right at intersection with various colored blazes, now on Mill Race Trail
[  8.60]  Parking lot and restroom building on left, continue straight on trail past picnic tables
[  8.80]  Keep right at unmarked intersection
[  9.00]  At trail name post, turn left on Old Farmstead Trail
[  9.30]  Back at visitor center and parking lot