Cheesequake State Park

Photo

Cheesequake Park (photo NJ DEP "Hidden Gems" series)

Map


View Cheesequake State Park in a larger map

Park Overview:

The uniqueness of this park lies in its geographical location in a transitional zone between two different ecosystems. In its 386-acre Natural Area one can see a diversity of plant species and community types characteristic of both northern and southern New Jersey.

Trail Uses:Hiking, Mountain biking, X-C skiing, Handicapped
Dogs:
Trail Miles:9.5 miles
Park Acreage:1569 acres
City/County/
State:
Matawan/Middlesex/NJ
Web Map:Cheesequake Trails
Park Description:

This park is a botanical preserve comprised mostly of salt marsh, pine barrens and mixed oak forest. An Interpretive Center, located a short distance from the trailhead parking area on the Red/Green/Blue trail offers informative exhibits, providing the public with an educational journey through the park's ecosystems. There is a small auditorium and the building has a small covered front deck that makes a wonderful spot to birdwatch. Check its website for a calendar of events or call for details at (732) 566-3208.

We are especially interested in hikes from The Jersey Shore Region where this park is located. Click for further information and a submission form.

Trails Overview:

Cheesequake State Park has four marked loop trails, for hiking only, that start at the Interpretive Center. Click for trail map.

  • The 1.9-mile Blue Trail crosses a salt marsh on a long boardwalk, runs along Perrine Pond, and returns to the start along several roads.
  • The 2.9-mile Green Trail is the longest and most varied trail in the park. It leads through a designated Natural Area, with pitch pines, a hardwood forest, a freshwater marsh and an Atlantic white cedar swamp.
  • The 1.3-mile Red Trail is a shortened version of the Green Trail, suitable for easier hikes.
  • The 0.7-mile Yellow Trail is a short loop trail marked with signposts that identify a number of interesting features along the trail.

In addition a wiggly, 2.7-mile white-blazed multi-use trail is open to hikers, bicyclists and cross country skiers. It has several acrobatic hike jumps along the way, with pedestrian bypasses. 

NOTE:  Cheesequake State Park was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, with many blowdowns along the trails.  As of this writing (August 2014), the northern portion of the Blue Trail remains closed to hikers.

A portion of the park is ADA accessible near the Family Campground parking area.

Want to view a hike in the park?  Click here.

 

Directions:
  • From the Garden State Parkway:  Take Exit 120 (be sure to stay in the local lanes south of the Raritan Toll Plaza). Turn right at the end of the ramp (from either north- or south-bound) and continue to the first traffic light. Turn right at the light onto Morristown Road, and then turn right again at the next traffic light onto Gordon Road. Follow Gordon Road as it turns sharply left and continue ahead, past residential subdivisions to the left, into the park. You will pass a toll booth (an entrance fee is charged from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend) and the park office. Continue for 0.1 mile beyond the toll booth, and park in the trailhead parking area on the left side of the road. GPS address: 300 Gordon Road, Matawan, NJ 07747.
                   
  • From Route 34 South: Make a left turn onto Disbrow Road which is the light immediately south of the Marketplace Shopping Plaza. Make a right at the end of Disbrow Road. Make a left at the first light and follow into the Park.
  • From Route 34 North: Make a right turn onto Disbrow Road which is the light immediately north of the Berg Animal Hospital. Make a right at the end of Disbrow Road. Make a left at the first light and follow into the Park.
Contact Information:Cheesequake State Park
732-566-2161
Region:Jersey Shore
Fees:Some times and places; check with park

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

One of the "Hidden Gems...."

Thus begins a NJ DEP press release in its "Hidden Gems of New Jersey's Park Sysem" series:

"A light breeze rustles tall saltmarsh grasses on Cheesequake Creek as kayakers peer at marsh wrens through binoculars. Diamondback terrapins sun themselves on logs and rocks, while tiny fiddler crabs peek out from the muddy banks. This bucolic scene may seem like a distant destination from the beaten path. But in reality, the subtle and natural wonders of Cheesequake State Park are just a stone’s throw from the Garden State Parkway."

For the rest of the text click here.