Hike Distance – 7.27 miles
Trails: East Creek trail (white)
The lesson today is to remember to bring both your driving directions and trail map. I forgot both. Fortunately, GPS got me where I wanted to be without issue. As for the trail map, I had AllTrails. Funny thing though. If you look at my map, the right hand side appears to be bushwhacking – AllTrails doesn’t think there’s a trail there. Rest assured, the East Creek trail makes one big loop. It is well defined, easy to follow, and with good blazes. Bonus – when bike trails or spur trails joined in, there were appropriate signs as to where to go. The only “issue” I had was starting out: I parked in the picnic lot, found the trailhead I would return from, but needed to find blazes heading south by Lake Nummy. A short walk down the road led me to blazes – a blaze or two is needed on the road by the lake.
Once on my way I found the trails to be wide, flat, and ultra-soft. It was all dirt, or sugar sand, covered in pine needles. It was like walking on clouds. I didn’t see one rock all day, and questioned if I was really in New Jersey. There were a couple of long boardwalk sections as well. And I saw three people on the trail the entire time.
I did the loop clockwise. My first stop was to look at a field that the trail skirts.
After heading southeast, the trail makes a 90 degree turn and heads right into a marshland. There wasn’t much water here on this day; I imagine there might be more in the Spring. It was at this point that I walked on a long boardwalk.
The boardwalk deposited me right into a Cedar grove, with lots of running water.
After the cedar grove it was another straight shot. Except, I found water.
The water appeared to be about six inches deep, with a very thin layer of ice on top. Fortunately for me:
A small trail cutout to circumvent the water.
The trail lets you out at Route 347, and there would be a short road walk. However, it is really well marked and not hard to follow. The road is not very busy, but the cars go flying by. I hugged the guardrail as I walked by East Creek Pond.
The trail turns right, and goes through a small pull off parking lot. There is a nice bench to stop and have a snack and admire the pond; which I did.
The trail heads north back to Lake Nummy and the picnic area. There were nice hardwood sections and two cedar groves. Also, there was one spot on the trail I really had to bushwhack around due to standing water.
Belleplain State Forest is probably the furthest I’ll drive in New Jersey to get to a trail. Had I gone the other direction from my house and driven the same time, I would have been in New York. This is a great location though, that was not crowded today. It costs to get in in-season. And, walking around Lake Nummy after hiking, I noticed a beach that would have life guards in the summer. I passed a couple of camp grounds, so I will keep this on the camping list as well.