Hike through pine lands, around marshes, and along beaches while looking for Osprey in nesting platforms.
Easy surface of sand, pine needles, wood chips, boardwalks. Level, no elevation change.
- 6.9 miles: this route, combining all trails in the park
- Shorter: RED Loop (1.7), YELLOW (1.5), BLUE (2.2)
- Combine 2 loops for a 3-4 mile hike.
Our two cents:
Great photography and birding opportunities; vast bay views. Osprey build nests in the spring, and we spotted one less than 5 minutes from the parking lot – bring a telephoto lens or binoculars (we use a lightweight monocular).
The trails are very easy and are better suited for short loops from the main parking lot; a loop longer than 6.9 isn’t really possible.
This is one of NJ’s beachy hikes and may not fit your definition of “hiking”. Some road noise along RED.
Update 5/2017 – link to updated trail map; Cooper Enviro center is now open.
Print one ahead in case nothing is available. The map has changed somewhat since we hiked this and our description may not quite match the map or on-trail colors.
Parking: N39° 58.896′ W74° 07.708′
For the lot in the center of the park, near Cooper Environmental. There is also a parking area by the park office, for the YELLOW loop.
Porta-john in the corner of the parking lot, near the playground.
Overview: RED- YELLOW – RED – Bike Road – BLUE – Bike Road – ORANGE – Bike Road – BLUE – Bike Road
0.0 – At the far corner of the parking lot, walk through the playground to start following the RED trail.
Pass the start of an accessible trail. Soon, look to the left for an osprey nest thru the reeds. Continue following RED as it nears some houses.
0.6 – Pass the Swamp Crossing trail, a shortcut.
1.1 – RED turns LEFT at a bench and the intersection with the other end of the Swamp Crossing trail.
[Unmarked continues straight, this turn is easy to miss…we waltzed right on by.]
1.2 – Turn LEFT at a woods road. Walk a few paces and look for 3 YELLOW markers on a tree. Now follow YELLOW, and cross over a small bridge.
Follow YELLOW to the LEFT where it splits. (YELLOW is a loop). Keep following YELLOW when it crosses the park road.
1.7 – After a section of boardwalk and in an area of many downed trees, there were no markers visible at the time we hiked. Head through the woods on what seems like a path, towards the park office buildings.
2.1 – Watch for YELLOW markers as the trail nears the water and crosses the park office area on grass.
Follow YELLOW over boardwalks with views of more osprey platforms.
2.7 – Approaching the start of the YELLOW loop… Turn LEFT on a woods road, go over the small bridge again. Turn LEFT to now follow RED.
3.2 – RED ends at the park road near Cooper Environmental.
/// Option: The parking lot is nearby if you’d like to cut the hike short. ///
Turn LEFT, now following the bike road over an open area.
3.4 – Turn LEFT and now follow BLUE.
4.2 – Turn LEFT and follow the bike road.
/// Option: keep straight on BLUE to cut the hike shorter. ///
4.5 – Picnic tables at the end of Cattus Island. Turn RIGHT to follow the ORANGE trail over a boardwalk and around a short loop on “Scout Island”, returning to this spot.
[This trail is ORANGE on the map and was marked closed; and it may not have been still blazed orange]
After doing the loop, retrace the bike road back to BLUE.
5.5 – Turn LEFT and follow BLUE again.
6.6 – Turn RIGHT on to the bike trail. [BLUE ends].
Follow the bike trail back to Cooper Environmental and the parking lot.