Hiking through the Pine Barrens while traveling around Lake Nummy and East Creek Pond.
After a few weekend obligations and my nagging cold kept us from getting in any hikes other than a couple jaunts at Cheesequake, we were happy to get back out this weekend.
Since we were dog-sitting in south Jersey we took advantage of having lodging only about a half hour from Belleplain (normally would be about 2 hrs from central NJ).
Bela is an avid hiker, but at age 15 with cranky joints she is now retired from long hikes, so we couldn’t take her along (although she’d still try and hike all day if you let her!)
Detailed hike directions found on our main Belleplain State Forest page.
Belleplain State Forest is in the New Jersey Pine Barrens… so it’s all endless pine and Atlantic white cedar – quite different from the north part of NJ. South Jersey is also flat as a pancake so the hiking is easy.
We parked at the Interpretive Center by Lake Nummy and picked up the East Creek Trail from there. The trail is typical pine barrens but with several wet crossings to manage (even small sections of water are the distinctive tea-color of the area).
Other than Lake Nummy at the start/end of this hike, they are no views until East Creek Pond along Rt. 347, and again of the pond later as the trail finally skirts near the water… just once. It’s a nice hike still.
Miles: 7.2. Easy, flat, packed sand trails, negligible elevation changes. There are several long boardwalks over wet areas, but also a few deep wet areas without them that were tricky to cross.
Parking: N39 14.702 W74 51.468 (Lake Nummy trailhead parking area)
Route: East Creek Trail (WHITE)
Wildlife spotted: Nada. We weren’t lucky enough to spot any bald eagles this time.
Misc: In addition to the campground, the East Creek Cabin is a large rental unit with bunks, bathroom, kitchen etc that sits right on the pond.
We’ve been to a couple gatherings there and it’s pretty fun. Many years ago we spotted our first bald eagle – ever – while canoeing on the pond.
History Stuff: The Civilian Conservation Corps
When reading up on parks in NJ, the Civilian Conservation Corps is often mentioned as having built this structure or planted this grove of trees etc.
Many of New Jersey’s parks and forests benefited from this depression-era New Deal program that combined unemployment-relief with conservation efforts.
In a nutshell, unemployed young men joined work camps around the country and were paid $30 a month (with $25 of that going back to help their family at home).
The results of their hard work is still enjoyed today. In Belleplain, for example, CCC workers turned a cranberry bog into Lake Nummy, built many of the park’s structures and roads, and improved the forest.
For a little more info about the CCC check out:
- The Civilian Conservation Corps: A Legacy Lives On In New Jersey’s State Parks – nice 2-page summary on NJ CCC
- Brief History of the CCC
- High Point State Park and the Civilian Conservation Corps (NJ) – Images of America book
- My CCC Days – memoir of day-to-day CCC life by Frank C. Davis
Archived from hike page 11/2016:
Notes: on Trail Map 1, the boat launch on East Creek Pond is also a small hiker lot (the map doesn’t show it as parking). A photo of the older Trail Map 2 lists mileages of all park trails and shows some other motorized trails [map from Gone Hikin’]. Trail Map 3 is of the campground area which shows a detail of the shorter trails around Lake Nummy.