Manasquan/Old Lenape Trail Loop

Overview

This loop provides access to the Manasquan River and traverses the north side of the park, passing through pine barrens, hardwood forests, and wetlands

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Easy
Length:
3.5 miles
Route Type:
Shuttle/Two car or Public Transportation
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Monmouth
State:
NJ
Maps/Books
Publication
First Published:
05/09/2011
Submitter:
Dan Ciarletta

Photo

Photo by Dan Ciarletta

Parking


View Turkey Swamp Park in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
40.197683,-74.302809
Driving Directions

From the Garden State Parkway, take Exit 98 for I-195 West. Continue for approximately 11 miles and take Exit 22, making a right turn onto Jackson Mills Road.

From the New Jersey Turnpike, take Exit 7A for I-195 East. Continue for approximately 16 miles and take Exit 22, making a left turn onto Jackson Mills Road.

Once at this intersection continue north on Jackson Mills Road for about 2.75 miles and then make a left at Georgia Road. Continue on Georgia Road for a mile as it travels west-northwest and then makes a gradual turn to the north. The entrance to the park will be on the left. Continue along the park entrance road until reaching the first fork. Bear to the left to enter the Oak Point parking area.

From US-9 south, make a right on County Road 524 – Elton Adelphia Road. Continue west on Country Road 524 for 1.2 miles, then make a left at Georgia Road. Continue south on Georgia Road for 1.6 miles. After passing the entrance to the Turkey Swamp soccer fields, the entrance to the park will appear on the right. Continue along the park entrance road until reaching the first fork. Bear to the left to enter the Oak Point parking area.

Description

Stop at the information board in front of the park office and obtain a brochure/map if available, or download one in advance, then turn left (east) and head through a small picnic/barbeque area along the lake. Follow trail posts to pick up the Alder Trail (Green) at the lake’s edge. Travel a short distance east along the lakeshore and then enter a hardwood forest. A junction with the Manasquan Trail (Blue) will appear on the left. Turn left onto the Manasquan Trail, crossing the park entrance road after about 500 feet. On the other side of the road, the trail begins to traverse mixed pine forest. The trail is initially quite close to Georgia Road, and it is possible to hear passing cars, but it gradually heads further into the woods. Through the trees on the right, the Turkey Swamp soccer fields will be partially visible. Continuing along the backside of the soccer fields, the trail crosses two plank bridges over boggy terrain. Skunk cabbages are abundant in these areas.

The trail gradually heads further into the woods, though a housing development is visible through the trees on the right. Eventually the trail reaches a linear stand of pine, heading left along what seems to be some sort of old farm/access road. The trail follows this road for about 500 feet, then bears right, leaving the road (be sure to follow the blue markers).

The number of pines seems to diminish as the trail winds its way towards the north-northwest. After a while, the pines come back, only to fade out again as the trail begins to descend into a shallow valley. At the bottom of the valley is a swampy brook lined with skunk cabbage. The trail crosses this brook via a small plank bridge. Aside from the trickle of water, this area is remarkably quiet.

Climbing the west side of the valley, and making a turn to the west, the trail passes through a pine grove before reaching a stretch where the trail has been rerouted for about 1,000 feet onto a parallel but drier route. The trail then turns right, heading north. A thin, muddy stream parallels the trail to the right. The sound of running water from the Manasquan River will become audible as the soil under foot changes from sand to chocolate colored mud. The trail curves to the left as it encounters the river and begins paralleling the bank as it heads west.

There are multiple gullies that descend roughly three feet to the south bank of the river. Maneuvering down one of these gullies to meet the water’s edge reveals fairly clear water with a stiff clay river bottom. Rocks within the river are composed of extremely hard clay and cemented sands. The cliffs have a predominately brown color with darker shades and some greenish tint, probably indicating the presence of glauconite (a clay-like mica mineral typically found in marine sand and clay deposits). Here, the Manasquan River has exposed the Tinton Formation, a geologic layer representing the ancient Cretaceous coastline underlying the younger sands and muds which comprise the majority of Turkey Swamp’s soil.

Continuing, the trail turns left, diverging from the Manasquan River. For the next half mile, the trail crosses a swampy deciduous forest. Be sure to watch out for muddy areas concealed by leaf litter. The trail then cuts left a short distance before turning right and beginning a gradual climb in mixed forest with sandy soil. A well trodden side trail goes off to the right, but bear left to follow the blue-blazed Manasquan Trail.

Completing its gradual ascent, the trail crosses the road leading to the archery range. On the other side, the trail passes a mound of sand and gravel. Broad leaf trees fade out, and the forest becomes predominately pine as the Manasquan Trail ends at a junction with the Old Lenape Trail (Green), which comes in from the left. Continue straight ahead along the Old Lenape Trail, which reaches, in 500 feet, a side trail that leads to the park’s campgrounds.

In another 0.3 mile, the green-blazed trail begins to pass through an area with more hardwoods. Here, the trail makes a gradual turn to the left. The Link Trail (unmarked at this point) begins to the right, but you should continue ahead, following the green markers for the Old Lenape Trail. Approximately 1,000 feet further down the Old Lenape Trail, a four way intersection appears. To the left is a small amphitheater-like seating area connected to the campground. To the right is the Fitness Trail. Continue ahead to stay on the Old Lenape Trail.

A road becomes visible ahead, and the trail forks. Follow the left fork, paralleling the road until it crosses it. On the other side is a short segment of trail leading back to the parking lot in front of the office. The trail passes a playground on the right before spilling out into the lot.

 

Date of hike: 4/22/2011

Turn by turn description
  1. From the office in front of the Oak Point parking area, head southeast to connect with the Alder Trail (Green) at lake’s edge
  2. 750 ft: Follow Alder Trail to start of Manasquan Trail (Blue), left
  3. 500 ft: Cross park entrance road
  4. 1500 ft: set of plank bridges, few hundred feet apart
  5. 1000 ft: Trail makes left down old access road for 500 ft, then breaks off. Trail posts point way
  6. 2000 ft: Bridge crossing stream in shallow valley
  7. 500 ft: Parallel bypass of old trail for about 1000 ft
  8. 750 ft: South bank of Manasquan River
  9. 750 ft: Trail breaks away from river
  10. 2000 ft: Trail reaches of end of swampy area, becomes sandy
  11. Junction with unmarked trail leading southwest. Trail post points direction of Manasquan Trail
  12. Cross road leading to archery range
  13. Manasquan Trail ends at trail post. Continue forward on Old Lenape Trail (Green)
  14. 500 ft: Pass spur trail leading to campgrounds on left
  15. 1500 ft: Pass Link Trail on right. Trail post points direction of Old Lenape Trail
  16. 1000 ft: 4-way intersection. Campgrounds left. Fitness Trail right
  17. 750 ft: Fork, follow to left
  18. 250 ft: Cross road
  19. 250 ft: Parking Area