December 6, 2023
December 6, 2023

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This nearly level 3.2-mile hike loops around the remote northern section of Turkey Swamp Park, following the Manasquan and the Old Lenape Trails. These trails are relatively little used – even on popular summer weekends – and offer an opportunity to find solitude. Although the trails are open to bicycles and horses, they are frequented primarily by hikers. The hike should take about two hours, and dogs are permitted on leash.

To get there, take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 123 and continue on Route 9 South for about 18 miles. Turn right on Jackson Mills Road, and almost immediately turn right again onto Elton-Adelphia Road (County Route 524). In 1.1 miles, turn left onto Georgia Road. Continue for 1.6 miles and turn right at the main entrance to Turkey Swamp Park. Follow the entrance road for 0.3 mile and turn left into the parking area for the Oak Point Picnic Area.  The park is about 57 miles from Teaneck, and it should take about one hour and 15 minutes to get there.

From the parking area, head south to the office, then turn left and find a signpost for the green-blazed Alder Trail. Bear right and head towards the lake, then bear left and cross a grassy area. At the end of the grassy area, bear left to continue on the Alder Trail. In a short distance, you’ll reach a signpost, where you turn left onto the blue-blazed Manasquan Trail. You’ll be following this nearly level trail for the next 2.5 miles. 

The Manasquan Trail crosses the dirt entrance road and proceeds through a deciduous forest with a dense understory. At first, you’ll hear the traffic on the nearby Georgia Road, but the trail soon moves away from the road. Soon, you’ll reach a junction with a road on the right that leads to a soccer field, but continue ahead on the Manasquan Trail, which crosses two wet areas on boardwalks.

Turn left at the next junction, continuing to follow the blue markers. You’ll now notice some pine trees mixed with the deciduous trees. The understory soon diminishes, and the trail continues through a more open area. About a mile and a half from the start of the hike, the trail crosses a stream on a wooden bridge. Just ahead, it bears left to head west through a mixed forest of deciduous and pine trees.

After curving to the right, the trail reaches the Manasquan River (on the right) and turns left to parallel it. This is the most scenic section of the hike. In a short distance, you’ll come to a bench, which is a good place to take a short break. Here, the trail turns left, away from the river, and proceeds through a relatively open forest, with an understory of stilt grass, barberry and wild rose. The presence of these invasive species indicates that the soil in this area has been disturbed. After a while, these invasive species disappear and are replaced by a more attractive understory of blueberries.

About a mile from the Manasquan River — after a short, gradual climb — you’ll cross a dirt road that leads to the park’s archery range. Just beyond, the Manasquan Trail ends, and you should continue ahead on the green-blazed Old Lenape Trail, which joins from the left. The trail now passes through an area with many young pines. In a short distance, a trail on the left leads to the park’s campground, but continue ahead on the Old Lenape Trail, passing through a mixed forest of deciduous trees and pines.

At the next junction, turn left to continue on the Old Lenape Trail. When you reach a four-way intersection, continue ahead, following a sign “to shelter building.” Just before reaching a dirt road, bear left at the fork. The Old Lenape Trail soon crosses the road and continues ahead to the parking area where the hike began.

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