Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mercer County Park, NJ - East Side

Mercer County Park - Mercer County Park Commission

GPS Coordinates 40.261127, -74.620488

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Parking at the entrance of the tennis court parking lot entrance.  To shorten the hike there is parking at the East Picnic Area, however that is not accessible at this time due to a bridge out on Old Trenton Road.

Mercer County Park Trail Map** - Mercer County Park Commission
Bicycling Map of Mercer County Park** - MTBNJ
Mercer County Park Trail Map - New Jersey Trails Association
** These maps do not show the eastern end of the blue trail accurately.  It does not connect to the red trail from the power cut, rather it goes into a swamp before a creek crossing that is not passable.  This requires a road walk accurately shown on the NJ Trails Association map (and this hike) to connect back to the trails.  Where the eastern part of the red trail loop shows blue joining from the swamp/creek crossing, this also does not exist.

Mercer County Park, NJ - East at EveryTrail


Take the Nature Trail which starts to the left of the indoor tennis courts.
The unmarked Nature Trail leads to Mercer Lake ...
... and the red-blazed trail.
The red trail joins up with the paved bike path briefly to cross a bridge,
then leave to the left right after the bridge.  Straight ahead is East Picnic Area, an alternate parking spot.
Assunpink Creek looking back at the bike path bridge.
The red trail intersects with the blue trail.
Double bridges on the blue trail.
The blue trail goes all the way to the edge of Mercer Lake.
The marina on the other side.
Break spot complete with a bed of soft leaves for those arthritic joints.
Heading on towards the Boathouse.
Old lettering on the boathouse.
A short road walk from the boathouse leads back to ...
... the blue trail starting out as a wide woods road.
At this pond, the trail becomes a footpath again.
The trail skirts several fields.
Where the trail becomes hard to follow and there are no blue markers, bright orange spray paint leads the way.
One lonely little tree holding onto it's fall leaves.
The trail goes around ponds nearing a residential area.
A huge hornets nest over the pond.
The blue trail (for which you will not have seen a marker in a very long time) continues to the left in the power cut.  The first 2 maps show it leaving to the right to connect with the red trail.  There are 2 areas where a trail goes into the woods to the right but in each case the trails end at impassable swamps before a wide creek.
Continue in the power cut through the yellow gate and turn right on the paved road.
The road dead ends but the sidewalk continues on to a bridge over Bridegroom Run.
After the bridge at the intersection, turn left on Darvel Drive, then
right on Edinburgh Road which leads to ...
the East Picnic Area on the right.
Follow the entrance drive then veer left towards the picnic pavilion.
Beyond the picnic pavilion and playground, pick up the paved bike path and cross back over the bridge from earlier.
Heading back to the tennis court parking lot on the paved bike path.

[  0.00]  Facing the indoor tennis courts, look to the left for the Nature Trail sign
[  0.30]  Keep left at fork, red trail markers farther along
[  0.40]  Keep right at fork then after a few steps take the left fork; at multiple upcoming forks keep left when right goes to the paved bike trail
[  1.00]  The red trail comes out onto the paved bike path, continue left on bike path to bridge
[  1.15]  Turn left on red after crossing bridge
[  1.50]  Turn left on blue at intersection
[  1.55]  Cross two bridges then keep right at fork after second bridge
[  2.00]  Cross bridge
[  2.45]  Blue trail reaches Mercer Lake
[  2.60]  Boathouse, continue between lake and boathouse
[  2.65]  Turn left on boathouse entrance drive
[  2.75]  Turn right on South Post Rd.
[  2.85]  Turn right just before the 25 mph sign on to blue-marked woods road
[  3.30]  Cross bridge then skirt small ponds not on map
[  3.35]  Cross two bridges
[  3.45]  Cross bridge, follow bright orange spray paint blazes
[  4.40]  Small rock hop
[  4.75]  At clearing veer slightly right to pick up trail entering the woods
[  5.00]  Trail skirts ponds before residential area; another section of bright orange paint blazes
[  5.30]  Trail veers left into power cut
[  5.35]  Turn left on power cut road, ignore trails to the right as they lead to swamps
[  5.55]  Pass through yellow gate then turn right on paved Bruntsfield Drive
[  5.65]  Turn left on Darvel Drive
[  5.80]  Turn right on Edinburg Road
[  6.00]  Turn right into East Picnic Area
[  6.15]  Turn left towards parking and picnic pavillion,
[  6.30]  Turn left on paved bike path and continue across bridge
[  6.90]  Turn right and cut through next to  picnic tables to return to tennis court parking lot
[  7.00]  Back at parking 

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