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Allaire State Park North of the Manasquan River
Abandoned rail beds, sand roads and an old towpath lead through forests of oak, cedar and pine to a historic village, scenic Manasquan River and a steam preservation railroad.
Easy to Moderate
Allowed on leash
Historic feature, Woods, Birding
Trailhead GPS Coordinates40.157553, -74.120566
Driving DirectionsTake the Garden State Parkway to Exit 98. After passing through the toll booths, bear left at the fork, following signs to Route 34 South. After merging onto Route 34, make the first right onto Allenwood Road and proceed for 0.7 mile to a “stop” sign at a T-intersection. Turn right onto Atlantic Avenue. Continue on Atlantic Avenue for 1.1 miles to large gravel parking lot on the left.
Allaire State Park charges a seasonal fee to park in the main lot. There is no fee to park in the large multi-use lot along Route 524 (Atlantic Avenue). You can bring your bicycle along if you would like to combine your hike with a bike ride to Manasquan on the 5.6-mile paved Edgar Felix Bikeway that skirts this lot.
Park your car and cross to the other side of Route 524. Turn left and walk along the shoulder of the road .15 mile until you reach two gates. Turn right to the right of the first gate on to a woods road. On the map this is shown as an orange-blazed trail but you won’t see any orange markers until .4 mile into the hike. At that point, just as the trail begins to veer left, a plastic post with an orange square at the top will confirm you are in the right place.
Continue to follow the gravel and sand road as you pass more orange trail markers and begin to parallel I-195. Unfortunately, the traffic noise disrupts an otherwise peaceful hike but it’s only temporary. A little over a mile into the hike, the trail ascends along a large drainage pipe on the left, beyond which lies a water tower. The trail then descends and crosses an unmarked trail.
At 1.75 miles the trail starts to veer left away from I-195. Watch carefully to your right through the trees for the wide opening of an abandoned rail bed, also shown as the same orange trail on the map. The trail you are on will run parallel if you continue to the left but the map shows both as one trail. There will be no turn blazes but watch for short path to the right connecting over to the rail bed. Take that path then turn right on the rail bed. Walk a very short distance towards the metal guardrail up ahead. As you walk look to the left for a plastic post with an orange blaze and turn left into the woods. You will again be hiking parallel to I-195 but not for very long. The trail in this section is well blazed and well defined.
As you near Route 524, the orange-blazed trail turns immediately right under I-195 through a weedy, overgrown section before the chain link fence but you will no longer be following the orange trail. Walk beyond the chain link fence then turn right and walk under I-195 along Route 524 with the chain link fence on your right.
Follow Route 524 for .2 mile then turn right at a break in the split rail fence, clearly marked with a plastic post and a green blaze. Follow the edge of a clearing with a campground through the trees on the right. Cross over the park road, walk beyond a barrier and follow the green-blazed trail to an interesting pond on the right. Continue ahead on the well-defined path.
At 2.65 miles the green trail forks at an intersection. Either direction will loop around about .8 mile through quiet and pleasant woods back to this intersection. You will notice an orange blaze along the way. That marks a short connector trail that links to the orange-blazed rail bed this side of I-195 – where you would end up had you stayed on the orange trail under I-195.
After completing the loop, continue back the way you came passing the pond, now on your left, all the way to the opening in the split trail fence at Route 524. Look slightly left for the continuation of the green-blazed trail, your destination after crossing over Route 524. At this point you have hiked 4 miles. You will again go under I-195 but this time on the green trail, now an old towpath that runs next to a small canal.
A short distance ahead a sand road leaves to the right. Turn right on this road which is the red trail, but you won’t see any blazes for a while. In .15 mile veer left at a fork when another sand road goes right (not shown on the map). In another .15 mile you might see a brown plastic post with a red blaze stuck in a tree stump if it is still there. Shortly after that trail marker, turn right on an unmarked grass road when the red-blazed sand road veers left.
Follow the grass road around until it meets back up with the sand road, which is the same red-blazed trail you left earlier. (The section you just hiked is not on the park map but you will see it on the map at outside the Nature Center later on in the hike.) As soon as you turn right on the sand road, head towards the plastic post with the red blaze up ahead. Turn right at that post and follow this red-blazed trail, now a footpath with interpretive signs. The trail will make a left turn through a split rail fence beyond which a .1-mile long boardwalk leads through a swampy area then up a short flight of steps. Take the right fork of the trail, again a footpath, at the top of the steps.
The footpath ends at a sand road, the green-blazed sand road along the canal from earlier in the hike. Straight ahead is an attractive pond. Veer left then turn right and cross the bridge with a sign directing you to the Nature Center. As you arrive at the Nature Center, note the large map on the right which shows some of the trails you just hiked or passed that are not on the official park map. With your back to that map, you should find well-stocked bird feeders a short distance ahead. Standing still for a moment results in a flurry of different kinds of birds coming in for a snack.
Continue to the right of the Nature Center for more views of the pond. At the back of the Nature Center, follow an unmarked concrete walkway to a bridge then a small parking lot. Walk through the parking lot to the main park road, turn right, then right again at a “No Bicycles Beyond This Point” sign. This short path ends at the sand road (green trail on the map, still running parallel to the canal) just before the picnic area and playground. Turn left and follow the road as it becomes paved at a bridge that leads to the main parking lot on the left. Continue straight entering historic Allaire Village 5.5 miles into the hike. The row house straight ahead contains the visitor center and a museum. If open, there is a small charge to tour the historic homes but there is no charge to walk the grounds, which you can do even if the visitor’s center and buildings are closed.
Keep to the right through the village making note of the white church off to the left. This is where you want to end up after hiking the yellow trail and touring the village. For now, keep right and continue on to where the village road veers left at Millpond. Directly opposite Millpond on your right is the entrance to the yellow trail marked by a yellow circle on a brown circle. This is the blaze for this trail but you won’t be seeing many along the way. The Manasquan River will become your guide when the trail markers fizzle out. This is the most rugged, but the most scenic part of the hike. The trail starts out well defined and leads to the Manasquan River where it veers left, paralleling the river. Because this is a floodplain, debris will often obscure the trail and the lack of trail markers can result in confusion. Simply keep following along the river even if looks like you need to turn left. Apparently others have done so creating partial paths where there should not be any. You will know to turn left when you reach a fork where the right side leads to a side stream flowing into the Manasquan River and the left fork takes you away from the river along the left side of the side stream and back to the village. When the yellow trail comes out at a road, turn right briefly to view the blast furnace, then retrace keeping straight beyond where you came up on the yellow trail. The yellow trail officially ends at the top of the hill at the next intersection you arrive at, the road through the village.
From this point you can tour the village ending up at the church you noted upon entering the village. Across from the barn and stage depot which are located at the far end of the village, steps descend to a bridge then a path through a field that veers left towards a gazebo, then the white church.
From the church continue on to the exit of the village and the main parking lot. As soon as you reach the parking lot, turn right at the Pine Creek Railroad and if operating, you can take a short circular train ride here. Continue along with the Pine Creek Railroad on your right and the parking lot on your left. At the end of the parking lot turn left, then in a few steps turn right on the paved Edgar Felix Bikeway. This is shown in purple on the map but you won’t find any purple blazes as they aren’t necessary for this well-defined, paved multi-use path.
The bikeway loops around with the tracks of the Pine Creek Railroad on the right and the main park entrance on the left, eventually running parallel to Route 524, separated by attractive groves of trees. Continue straight at a stop sign and keep going until the bikeway brings you to your car.
Click here for more pictures of this hike.
Turn by turn description[ 0.00] Cross Route 524, turn left and walk on grassy area next to road[ 0.15] Turn right on woods road to the right of double gates[ 0.40] Begin to see orange trail markers on plastic posts as trail veers left[ 0.90] Sand/gravel road crosses over small creek[ 0.95] Cross over second small creek just after an unmarked trail comes in from the right[ 1.20] After large drainage pipe on the left a water tower comes into view[ 1.40] Stay on sand/gravel road when an unmarked trail crosses over; now parallel to I-195[ 1.45] Stay on sand/gravel road when an unmarked trail crosses over[ 1.70] Trail begins to veer to the left away from I-195[ 1.75] Turn right on unmarked path a short distance then right on abandoned rail bed[ 1.80] Turn left into woods at orange marker before the end of the rail bed, follow trail which is now pretty well marked[ 2.05] At Route 524 turn right after fence and walk along the road under I-195; continue along road[ 2.25] Turn right at green trail marker through break in fence[ 2.35] Cross over paved park road and beyond wooden gate, continue straight with pond on right (pond not on park map)[ 2.65] Turn right at intersection to follow the green trail loop[ 2.90] Turn left on green trail as orange trail straight ahead connects to abandoned rail bed trail (connector portion not on park map)[ 3.15] Stay on green trail is it veers left[ 3.55] Keep straight on green at intersection back to the pond[ 3.85] Go beyond wooden gate and cross paved park road[ 3.95] Go through break in fence, turn left on Rt. 524 briefly, then cross to the right to continue on green trail[ 4.00] Trail parallels canal as it goes under I-195[ 4.10] Turn right at fork (unmarked but should be leaving green and turning on red)[ 4.25] Follow sand road as it veers left when another sand road (not on map) goes right[ 4.40] First red trail marker[ 4.50] Trail forks, turn right on less defined grass road (should come back together if you take more well defined sand road to the right)[ 4.70] Meet back up with well-defined sand road, turn right and head towards red trail; turn right at red marker on footpath with interpretive signs[ 4.80] Trail turns left, goes beyond split rail fence and follows boardwalk[ 4.85] Boardwalk ends, ascend steps at end of boardwalk; keep right at top of steps at Peat Bog sign[ 5.05] Left on sand road at pond then right over bridge towards Nature Center[ 5.10] At Nature Center go around to the right of the building and pick up concrete path behind building[ 5.20] Cross bridge and come out at small parking lot; walk through parking lot, right on main park road towards park sign, then right on path at "no bicycles allowed" sign, then left on sand road at picnic tables[ 5.40] Sand road becomes paved, keep straight when bridge to left leads to main parking lot[ 5.50] Enter historic Allaire Village and keep right[ 5.60] When village road veers left at Millpond on left and double sand roads on right, follow the village road to the left then immediately turn right in break in fence for the yellow trail[ 6.00] Yellow trail turns to left away from the Manasquan River at side stream[ 6.10] At dirt road, turn right briefly to blast furnace, then retrace keeping straight on dirt road which is still the yellow trail[ 6.15] At end of yellow trail, turn right on village road and continue to explore village[ 6.60] Across the village road from the barn, descend steps, follow boardwalk then path uphill to field; veer left towards gazebo and church[ 6.80] Exit village and turn right on paved path before parking lot; at Pine Creek Railway turn left; at end turn left then right on to paved bike way just before stop sign[ 7.50] Cross road at stop sign[ 7.60] Follow paved bike path to the left as a grass road goes straight[ 7.80] Parking lot on left