Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hiking in Freehold's Turkey Swamp Park

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hiking in Freehold's Turkey Swamp Park

Article excerpt

FEATURES: This nearly flat hike loops around this Monmouth County park, paralleling the Manasquan River and following along a scenic lake.

LENGTH: About 4.5 miles

DIFFICULTY: Easy

TIME: About 2 1/2 hours

MAP: Monmouth County Park System map, available online at monmouthcountyparks.com.

DOGS: Permitted on leash

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 123 and continue on Route 9 South for about 18 miles. Turn right on Jackson Mills Road, and almost immediately turn right again onto Elton-Adelphia Road (County Route 524). In 1.1 miles, turn left onto Georgia Road. Continue for 1.6 miles and turn right at the main entrance to Turkey Swamp Park. Follow the entrance road for 0.3 miles and turn left into the Oak Point Picnic Area. Park here.

This hike circles the northern section of Turkey Swamp Park. Although the park trails are open to bicycles and horses, they are frequented primarily by hikers. The Manasquan Trail is relatively little used - even on popular summer weekends - and offers an opportunity to find solitude, while following a nearly flat trail.

From the kiosk on the west side of the parking area, walk through the shelter building (just ahead) and turn left on a woods road. Proceed through a picnic area and bear right to continue on the green-blazed Alder Trail. When you reach the lake, bear left and continue along the beach.

At the end of the beach, bear left to continue on the Alder Trail. In a short distance, you'll reach a signpost, where you turn left onto the blue-blazed Manasquan Trail. You will be following this nearly level trail for the next 2.5 miles.

The Manasquan Trail crosses a dirt road and proceeds through a deciduous forest, with some pines and an understory of blueberries, crossing several wet areas on boardwalks. After about a mile and a half, the trail crosses a stream and a wetland on a wooden bridge and bears left to head west.

Soon, you'll begin to parallel the Manasquan River, to the right. This is the most interesting part of the hike. In a short distance, you'll come to a bench, with a small rock dam in the river just beyond. Here, the trail turns left, away from the river, and proceeds through a more open forest, with an understory of grass. …

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