The white-blazed East Creek Trail runs from Lake Nummy down to East Creek Pond and back in a loop. In some places roots on the walking surface require a little attention to foot placement but for the most part the trail surface is hard packed with a leaf or pine needle cover. Most swampy areas are avoided by bridges or boardwalks but expect to find a couple of very short wet places to navigate...
The white-blazed East Creek Trail runs from Lake Nummy down to East Creek Pond and back in a loop. In some places roots on the walking surface require a little attention to foot placement but for the most part the trail surface is hard packed with a leaf or pine needle cover. Most swampy areas are avoided by bridges or boardwalks but expect to find a couple of very short wet places to navigate through. You'll be crossing both paved and dirt roads where vehicles are permitted, although in the winter you most likely won't see any. In fact, in the winter, you very well may have the entire trail to yourself. There won't even be any bugs.
At the time of this hike there were no trail maps available at the park but they expected to have maps reprinted in Spring 2011. In the meantime, check the NJ DEC park link for the park's campground map which shows the beginning and end of the East Creek Trail. There is also a sign showing all park trails at the Interpretive Center.
Start the hike by facing the Interpretive Center. Walk along the paved road to the right of the building heading away from Lake Nummy towards the "Trash/Recycling Center - Campers Only" sign. Turn left following the arrow on that sign. With the recycling center straight ahead, the trailhead for the white-blazed East Creek Trail will be on your right.
The trail starts out as a mossy path with a footbridge crossing at 0.9 mile. Shortly thereafter cross over a paved road (Sunset Road on the map), then follow the trail as it briefly becomes a dirt road along the edge of a small field. At the other corner of the field the trail leaves the dirt road to the right reverting back to a footpath. Follow the trail over a bridge, a long boardwalk section and a couple more short bridges/boardwalks before going through a laurel tunnel. At 2.4 miles cross a bridge where you should start to hear the traffic sounds of Route 347.
At 2.7 miles you will arrive at Route 347, which will be heavily traveled at high rates of speed. You won't need to cross over, simply turn right and walk on the grassy area along Route 347 for 0.3 mile. You'll pass the entrance for the East Creek Lodge, then the spillway of East Creek Pond, arriving at a small parking lot on the far side of East Creek Pond.
At this point you could cross over Route 347 to hike the blue-blazed Ponds Trail out and back to the Pickle Factory Pond 2 miles away. This trail, however, has not been maintained, has thorny overgrowth, large blow downs and requires quite a bit of ducking under low hanging branches. There are also many deer stands along this trail, most definitely an area to avoid on hunting days. (No hunting on Sundays.)
To continue on the East Creek Trail, enter the small parking area where you will see a trail sign and map on the right. Proceed between the signs to the trail, which now runs parallel to East Creek Pond. At 3.2 miles the trail will take you directly to a clearing on the bank of the pond before making a sharp left turn.
The trail will alternately cross over Tom Field Trail (a packed dirt road), join this trail very briefly, run parallel at times, and cross over Sunset Road, a paved road. There should be very little, if any, traffic on these roads. The trail will then go through a section of large holly trees beyond which lie white pine forests and cedar swamps.
At 6.5 miles a brown plastic trail marker straight ahead at a T-intersection does not indicate which way to turn. Turn left here. The trail then comes to a paved road at the swimming beach side of Lake Nummy. Turn right and follow this road back to the Interpretive Center parking lot where the hike began.
Turn By Turn Description:
[ 0.00] Follow road to right of Interpretive center; left at recycling sign; right at trail sign
[ 0.90] Wooden foot bridge
[ 0.95] Cross paved road (Sunset Road)
[ 1.00] Trail becomes gravel road along edge of field
[ 1.05] Trail leaves gravel road at end of field and turns right as foot trail
[ 1.40] Turn right at unmarked intersection; cross bridge
[ 1.50] Long boardwalk
[ 1.90] Bridge
[ 1.95] Bridge/boardwalk
[ 2.00] Trail goes through laurel tunnel
[ 2.40] Cross bridge; traffic sounds
[ 2.60] Left at fork
[ 2.70] Turn right on Route 347; proceed to parking area opposite side of East Creek Pond
[ 3.00] Walk to the right through the small parking lot to continue on the East Creek Trail.
[ 3.20] Trail goes right up to lake before veering left
[ 3.80] Boardwalk then left to cross dirt road (Tom Field Trail)
[ 4.90] Cross paved road (Sunset Road)
[ 5.40] Cross over dirt road
[ 5.50] Cross over dirt road (Tom Field Trail)
[ 5.90] Cross paved road
[ 6.40] Cross 4 bridges
[ 6.50] Turn left at intersection with trail post but no turn directions; turn right on paved road; follow road along Lake Nummy
[ 6.75] Arrive back at Interpretive Center parking lot
This hike won't bring you to amazing mountain vistas but you might find a somewhat warmer climate and some greenery to brighten up a dreary winter.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.