A small section of woods adjacent to Rutgers Gardens and Westons Mill Pond.
1.9 miles. Very easy, little elevation gain.
- Nearby: Rutgers Ecological Preserve.
Our two cents:
This nice area is sandwiched between some busy highways… high rises, highway overpass with graffiti, and even On The Border on Rt. 1 are sometimes visible, plus road noise.
Don’t drive far for this park but if in the area it makes for a nice, quick hike.
Bonus: Check out a labyrinth mowed into a meadow, wander around adjacent Rutgers Gardens, and in season a farmers market runs on Fridays.
Print out the online trail map. Also a large map on the trail kiosk
. Some of the trails are blazed, others not, but it’s not a large or confusing park.
Updated: 5/2020: Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 4/2017 – Revised directions to reflect trail map, revised Interactive Map, added GPX.
3/2017 – Added link to new trail map. Added fall foliage photos and moved original winter photos to a blog post.
A very brief description of the woods (no trail info) can be found in the The New Jersey Walk Book.
Parking: N40.47420° W74.42033°
Rt. 1 to Ryders Lane Exit. Follow the signs for the woods, you have to make a few turns past some buildings, through the gardens.
The small parking lot is near the Log Cabin, with overflow parking on the dirt behind it.
Unsure if there are any inside the Gardens buildings, as they are usually closed when we are there. Ryders Lane has lots of stores, gas stations etc.
From the lot, there are two entrances to the woods: The path that runs close to the water, Pond Trail, and another across the open field at a trail sign.
0.0 – Start following Pond Trail (unblazed), with a view of the water.
0.2 – Pond Trail (unblazed) veers to the left, then quickly to the right, to skirt a small ravine.
It heads downhill to cross Bruce Brook on a bridge. (The old trail goes down into the ravine still, and just meets up after the bridge – your choice).
Continue following Pond Trail (unblazed) as it runs parallel to the water.
At some point the path is no longer Pond on the trail map, but we didn’t notice.
0.8 – The stopping point is a dam just before an overpass with graffiti. This is technically off the trail map.
[The trail continues under the overpass, rock hops a dribble of water, and eventually peters out at a road… not worth checking out really.]
At the dam area, take the other main path back, that follows the edge of large meadows.
1.1 – Pass an old Christmas Tree farm on the left… the trees are all in rows and now very tall.
There is an area marking it “Field of Heroes” and dedicated to servicemen and women. This plaque is gone:
///Optional: If you wander around the pine trees you may find some structures (Nov 2015). Return back to the edge of the pine trees to continue.
From this point, the unblazed path is called “Forest Trail” on the trail map.
A bit further on, Rt 1 and On The Border may be visible in the distance on the right.
1.2 – Pass a a large labyrinth mowed into the field on the right, which can be walked around (and around) but might not be obvious if it’s not grown yet:
In the labyrinth after it’s grown a bit and from above:
After this, Forest Trail (unblazed) enters the forest again.
1.3 – Turn RIGHT and now follow YELLOW, though the marker might not be obvious until into the trail some.
This loops around, with some road noise, to meet back with the Forest Trail (unblazed) further down .
///Option – Don’t turn and keep following Forest to meet up at the same spot.
1.8 – Cross Forest Trail (unblazed) and start following RED for a bit to reach the other trail access point to the parking lot.
Hiked: 2/23/14. Trail Blog: “Helyar Woods in the Snow“
Hiked: 12/3/12. Trail Blog: “Helyar Woods After Hurricane Sandy“
Hiked: 12/19/09. Trail Blog: “Helyar Woods in December“