Wells Mills County Park – Penns Hill Trail

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Hiking Wells Mills for the first time.

We hike on New Years Day every year – it’s a great way to kick off the new year. Weather was cloudy when we started out but not windy.

The sun came out around noon and it got up in the mid-40s and was very comfortable.

Located in Ocean County, super easy access – right off the Parkway at exit 69, left onto 532 W, entrance is about 2.5 miles down, on the left. This is a no-hunting park.

For detailed hike directions visit our main Wells Mills County Park page.

This was our first time here and we wished we’d check out this park sooner, it’s just really nice with well maintained facilities and trails. It’s also a great intro to the terrain of the Pine Barrens.

Right at the start of the hike you walk through an Atlantic white cedar swamp which was just really neat – and pretty.

The terrain switches to just pine barren with areas of cedar swamp sprinkled throughout.

There are many narrow boardwalks over wet areas or streams which can get slippery when wet or icy.

There are bathrooms near the parking lot, a map kiosk, a playground and a nice visitor center which was closed.

The bathrooms are seasonal, and I don’t recall passing anything on 532 so the best bet is a rest stop on the parkway (traveling south there was one around 74).

Wells Mills Visitor Center

We did the WHITE blazed 8.4 mile Penns Hill Trail, in roughly 4 hrs.

Entering the cedar swamp.

There are other trails that allow you to make shorter loops. The hike starts behind the visitor center and is very well marked, there wasn’t one instance where we questioned which way to go.

There are also some mileage signs along the way so you know how far you’ve gone – a nice touch.

Some minor road noise wasn’t too bad. The park has a secluded feel but the trail is within earshot of the road which would remind you that you weren’t really in the middle of nowhere.

The trail surface is rock-free, pine needles and sand. There are some minor rolling hills… which is unusual in the pine barrens. (really minor – the elevation of Laurel Hill is only 130′!!!)

We had snow the day before which was mostly melted, leaving some slush and several inches of water in spots.

The trail seemed to get sandier as you went, and in warmer weather that may prove to be more tiring… it was frozen and easy to walk on today.

*Tick warning… even tho it was January we ended up with 1 tick on a pant leg. We don’t use bug spray in January but I guess it got warm enough for them.

So if you can get a tick in January, imagine what you’d end up with in the summer – be prepared!

3 thoughts on “Wells Mills County Park – Penns Hill Trail”

  1. Wells Mills has always been one of the worst areas for ticks. First time we hiked , I had multiple ticks on my pants… most guides I’ve seen warn about the ticks there.

  2. We hiked Wells Mills on a warm February 2012 day where the mercury hit 60F and we really enjoyed the elevation changes…it wasn’t your typical flat stroll through the Jersey pines. The trails were very well marked and we combined our walk on the Penn’s Hill trail with the multipurpose green trail. The boardwalk stroll along the lake amid tall cedar trees was quite beautiful. Thankfully, neither man nor dog ended up with any ticks after our hike. It was probably a first for us!

  3. We went hiking at Wells Mills yesterday. We hiked 5 miles. I literally pulled over 50 ticks off myself during and after the hike, including about 8 lodged in my skin. I didn’t use tick repellent, but stayed on trails the whole time–no off-trail hiking.
    It’s memorial weekend and there was hardly anyone there. When we got there we were wondering why–now we know.

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