Explore Hooks Creek Lake, Perrine Pond, and an Atlantic white cedar swamp.
4.5 miles. Easy, roots but not too rocky; some rolling hills, a few minor steep sections. Many boardwalks over wet, muddy, or marshy areas.
- Shorter: 3.2 miles – Just the Green Trail.
- Short: Just YELLOW or RED loops.
- Also in this park: White Trail and Arrowsmith.
- Nearby: Julian Capik Preserve; Henry Hudson/Bayshore Bike Trail.
Ranger station and interpretive center should have park maps, or print the map from the park site.
A similar route can be found in Hiking New Jersey but the book doesn’t take in account the trail changes.
Other routes can be found in Best Day Hikes in New Jersey, 50 Hikes in New Jersey, Hike of the Week, and 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: New York City. Detailed trail descriptions found in the The New Jersey Walk Book.
Updated: 11/2020: Re-hiked variation; around the lake to the crabbing bridge instead. 4/2020: Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 11/2018 – Added new fall foliage photos; re-hiked.
Updated: 4/2016: Revised description to reflect the reroutes of the BLUE and GREEN trails over the past few years. Added new photos. A few scenes in the video show sections of blue and green that no longer exist.
Parking: N40.43608° W74.26553°
From the Garden State Parkway, take exit 120, follow brown state park signs. Or take Rt 34 to Cheesequake-Morristown Road and turn onto Gordon Rd, and follow into park.
There is a gate and the ranger station on the right. Shortly after is the hikers parking on the left. There is another lot further in the park for the beach and lake.
The GREEN, RED, BLUE, and YELLOW trails from this lot are foot traffic only. The WHITE biking trail is another area of the park.
Fees: From Memorial Day through Labor Day, see the NJ Park Pass.
Restrooms at the ranger station and interpretive center, and comfort stations near the campground (seasonal).
Overview: YELLOW – RED/GREEN/BLUE – BLUE – GREEN
0.0 – The trail starts at the large trailhead sign at the end of the parking lot.
Almost immediately, the trail splits at a set of stairs. Bear RIGHT and start following YELLOW. [On the left, stairs/boardwalks lead down for GREEN/RED].
Follow YELLOW as it curves around.
0.2 – At a T-intersection, turn LEFT and continue on YELLOW. [RIGHT just loops back to the lot]. The trail is up on a hill, overlooking Hooks Creek Lake.
0.4 – Walk down a large staircase.
Turn LEFT at the bottom and start going away from the lake, continuing on YELLOW.
The trail curves around a marshy area.
0.6 – Arrive at the bottom of the same staircase you saw at the beginning. Turn RIGHT, go over a bridge and head uphill to the Interpretive Center.
Check it out and then continue. The trail is marked RED-GREEN-BLUE at this point.
0.8 – Just after going up a long set of stairs is T-junction of BLUE and RED/GREEN, marked with wooden archways.
Turn RIGHT and now follow just BLUE. [RED/GREEN goes to the left].
Follow BLUE around, down some steps and over boardwalks to an uphill with large blocks as steps.
Follow BLUE as it turns left and meanders through the woods.
[The old blue trail went to the right and crossed over the marsh on a boardwalk but was washed away].
1.6 – At another wooden arch, follow BLUE as it turns RIGHT, then a quick LEFT, continuing down a wide sand road. Follow BLUE as it turns to the LEFT near a bird blind overlooking Perrine Pond.
Optional side-trip: Before turning at the blind, continue straight on the wide sand path till it ends about halfway around the pond for views over a marsh and an osprey nest. This used to be the route of the BLUE trail before a section was washed out.
Follow BLUE as it goes around the pond.
It turns LEFT and passes an interesting tree with visible twisty roots.
1.8 – BLUE turns RIGHT onto a dirt road.
2.0 – Arrive at a 4-way trail junction with wooden archways, a trail sign, and a bench.
[RED/GREEN comes in from the left. BLUE continues straight along the park road, and RED continues under the RED arch – both are much shorter ways back to the parking lot].
Turn RIGHT, then immediately turn RIGHT again to start following GREEN.
Continue on GREEN down a hill and some steps, and over a long boardwalk over a seasonally wet area.
2.4 – Turn RIGHT, following GREEN as it zig-zags over a boardwalk through a cedar swamp.
2.6 – Cross the wide dirt park road (called Museum Rd on the trail map), continuing under the wooden arch for GREEN.
2.7 – The GREEN trail bears left and goes up a steep, root-covered hill and a set of stairs. The trail runs along the back of several business properties and over some bridges.
3.2 – Follow GREEN to the RIGHT when approaching the park road.
3.4 – Turn LEFT on to a long boardwalk and then cross a wooden bridge over a stream.
3.6 – After an often wet and somewhat marshy area with a lot of roots, a small observation platform, and logs to cross some muddy areas, the trail heads uphill to the right.
4.0– GREEN joins the park road near the campground. Turn LEFT and walk along the park road, passing the group campgrounds and comfort stations.
4.1 – Turn RIGHT at the wooden trail arch, now following GREEN/RED. Continue past the campgrounds on the right before arriving at the park road.
4.4 – Turn RIGHT on to the park road (Museum Rd) and follow it back to the parking lot.