Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wickecheoke Creek Preserve North


ABOUT THE PARK:
Wickecheoke Creek Preserve - New Jersey Conservation Foundation

DIRECTIONS:
GPS Coordinates 40.477650, -74.976905 to fartherst parking north on map - not recommended

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This is where I parked at the northern end of the preserve on Upper Creek Road where the map indicates is a view.  Room for 1.5 cars.  My intention was to road walk south then on the way back pick up the fragment of trail along the creek and bushwhack back over to Upper Creek Road but everything was too thorny and overgrown.  The view is the same as what is seen on the rest of the hike so the added road walk distance (2 miles total) by parking here was not worth it.
Found this meadow lot while on the hike and this would have been the best place to park.
GPS Coordinates 40.457441, -74.977408

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Huge lot with lots of parking space.  (Waypoint 10 on the track.)
This is what the entrance looks like from Upper Creek Road - no sign saying it is the parking lot but it is.

TRAIL MAPS:
Wickecheoke Creek Preserve North - New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Wickecheoke Creek Preserve North at EveryTrail


HIKE DISTANCE:
9 miles but would be 7 miles if parking in the meadow lot 

THE HIKE:
I am going to omit the out and back part along Upper Creek Road to save the 2 miles of boring road walking that is not worth it and pick up from the intersection with Old Mill Road.  If parking at the meadow lot, walk out to Upper Creek Road, turn right, then turn right on Old Mill Road to get to this point.

Twins!
Mom
Gray Catbird with breakfast.  (It's not all boring on the road walk!)
From Old Mill Road turn right on Pine Hill Road then right at the barrier...
... on to the red-blazed trail.
A molting cardinal and he was singing his heart out up there.
Gray catbird with a raspberry?
The trail leads down to Wickecheoke Creek.
Not much water in the creek this time of year but there are a few small cascades.
Lots of old stone walls throughout the hike.
Coming out onto a meadow with a mowed path.
The trail along the meadow leads back to Pine Hill Road.  The next trail access is to a trail that leads back to where we were at the creek so we continued straight on Pine Hill Road.
Pine Hill Road with Wickecheoke Creek down below.
Cute mailbox!
Mailbox on its last leg but apparently still in use.
Goats!
Coming up to the intersection with Route 604 to the covered bridge but just before...
... a trail to the right down to the creek and ...
... a picnic table.
Break spot!
Under the Pine Hill Road bridge.
Green Sergeant's Covered Bridge, the last covered bridge in New Jersey.
There is pretty much traffic on this road so ...
... quickly through to the other side before more cars came.  We tried to go underneath by rock hopping the creek but the rocks are insanely slippery, even when dry.  Just after the bridge, turn right on Upper Creek Road.
Lost poster on Upper Creek Road.
To the right on Upper Creek Road, no signs or trail markers but this is where the trail is accessed.
Hermit Thrush
The woods are very pretty in this area but the trail is not blazed.
At the one blaze by the creek ...
... Shawnee tried to cross, which was odd because she never leaves the trail.  I called her back to continue on the unmarked trail.  Turns out she was right and I should have listened to her.  Back to that in a bit.
Continuing on the unmarked trail.
Turkey vultures took off every which way except for this one. I said "Hi pretty bird" and she stayed.  It's not every day a turkey vulture hears those words.
Another one stayed behind peeking through the leaves.
It was at this point as we were leaving the turkey vultures that it became apparent what they were up to.  Lunch!  And wow, whatever they were having was very ripe. Phew!  And shortly thereafter the trail fizzled out just before someone's back yard so we had to retrace back to...
... that single blaze where Shawnee clearly told me we were supposed to cross.  Such a great trail dog she is!  I should learn to listen to her more.
Crossing over like we were supposed to - VERY carefully.  Even the large rocks are wobbly and everything is slippery even when dry.  I almost did a split and that is not a good thing.
On the other side the trail turns left along the creek on a woods road for a bit.  The trail is blazed here.
The trail leaves the woods road and then gets dicey with lots of blow downs and loose rocks.  It was easier rock hop up the creek and rejoin the trail a little farther along.
Zillions of little fish in the water.
Meeting back up with the trail on the other side of the creek things clear out and the trail becomes better defined.
Entering a meadow after crossing over a small bridge.
Common Yellowthroat - there were tons of them but it was very hard to find them in the foliage.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Silver-spotted Skipper
Black Swallowtail
Had we parked here, we would have been finished with the hike but we still had a couple of miles to go.