Be sure to pick up a copy of the map at the Nature Center. Trails are named on the map but intersections are not always identified with trail names. Trails are all blazed with identical white diamond metal markers on trees. If hiking during shotgun hunting season, hike on Sundays, or call the park in advance to see if trails are open, as most of this hike is not accessible on hunting days due...
Be sure to pick up a copy of the map at the Nature Center. Trails are named on the map but intersections are not always identified with trail names. Trails are all blazed with identical white diamond metal markers on trees. If hiking during shotgun hunting season, hike on Sundays, or call the park in advance to see if trails are open, as most of this hike is not accessible on hunting days due to trail closure.
From the parking lot walk along the front of the Nature Center to a paved trail at the far side. Turn right and a short distance ahead veer right at the fork and cross over a bridge. Note the boardwalk coming in from the left fork - this will be your return route. A few steps ahead keep to the right at the next fork following along a pond on the right. You will be on the Pond Trail, a sign indicating the trail name will indicate this straight ahead at the intersection with the Laurel Trail. Pass a picnic area on the right, veer left over a bridge and then stay right beyond the bridge. In another .2 mile keep left at the split rail fence where a bridge goes to the right and archway ruins are visible ahead. A sign will indicate you are on the fitness trail. A short distance ahead turn right at the unmarked intersection which is the Center Trail. A sign shortly ahead at the intersection of the paved park will show you are heading in the direction of the observation deck on the Center Trail. Cross the paved park road watching for traffic, and continue straight to an observation deck at Stephen's Pond on the left.
Retrace your steps crossing back over the paved park road and then turn right at the next intersection to continue along the fitness trail. The Veterans Cemetery will be visible to the right through the trees. Continue following the fitness trail as it veers to the left away from the paved road. At 1.55 miles arrive at an unmarked intersection and turn right. This short trail leads to the paved park road. Cross the road, turn left briefly, then right on the Oak Barrel Tree Road trail. At 1.75 miles arrive at the unmarked intersection of Cribbers Road. A right turn would bring you to what is noted as "Native American Village" on the map in .2 miles but it is merely a clearing so if you want to skip that, turn left.
Go either way at the split .2 mile out since these two trails will merge back together. A short distance ahead on the left is Cribber's Field, a clearing with several bird blinds along the perimeter of the field.
At 2.4 miles the trail merges on to the boardwalk. Signs on the boardwalk indicate that the Artesian well, at the end of the boardwalk, is 1.4 miles ahead. Mileage is marked every tenth of a mile. Just before the end of the boardwalk, two short boardwalks on the right lead to viewing decks over the South River. These side trails are not shown on the park map.
At 3.8 miles, just before the end of the boardwalk, a sign to the left leads to the Smith Ireland Cemetery which is fenced to keep vandals out. Tombstones are from the early 1800's. After visiting the cemetery, return to the boardwalk and at the end turn right to the Artesian well.
From the Artesian well, continue in the direction you were heading coming off the boardwalk with the river access on your right, continuing straight ahead on the gravel road. Pass a dirt road with a metal barrier on the right. That road leads to picnic area. When Camping Loop Road (unmarked) turns sharply to the left, keep straight on Smokeless Powder Trail (unmarked). Go beyond two posts with a twisted metal barrier and arrive at the intersection of Duck Pond Road. Turn right. Keep straight at the first intersection and at the next fork either side will merge back on the same trail.
At 4.95 miles a mountain bike trail comes in from the left. A few steps beyond that, turn left at the tree with the white park trail marker and a silver diamond mountain bike trail marker directly beneath it. The trail will continue between two mountain bike trails.
Keep left at the intersection at 5.45 miles. Another .4 miles ahead, complete the loop by turning right on Duck Farm Road at a tree marked with #200.
At 6.45 miles cross Artesian Well Road (watch for traffic as vehicles are allowed on this road) following the North End Trail sign. At the first intersection, turn left on unmarked Store House Road. You will notice many old foundations along this route, which are being reclaimed by the woods.
Go through two intersections then turn right at the t-intersection on Oak Ridge Trail passing picturesque ponds on the right. At 7.25 miles the trail becomes a boardwalk. At the first intersection leave the boardwalk turning right on Frog Pond Road, then left at the next intersection on Crossover Trail. Stay on Crossover Trail passing 4 intersections then turn left on Sand Hole Road at a yield sign. A short distance farther turn left briefly then right on the boardwalk.
Keep right on the boardwalk as a trail joins the boardwalk straight ahead. This is the trail you originally entered the boardwalk on earlier in the hike. Follow the boardwalk .4 mile back to the paved trail at the Nature Center.
Turn By Turn Description:
[ 0.00] Right on paved path at far side of nature center; right at split; right at second split on Pond Trail (unmarked) with pond on right
[ 0.30] Straight on Pond Trail when Laurel Trail goes left (marked); trail comes in from right; picnic area on right; veer left over bridge; keep right at intersection other side of bridge
[ 0.50] Keep left at split rail fence where bridge goes to the right and ruins ahead; fitness trail begins (called Exercise Trail on map)
[ 0.60] Right at intersection (Center Trail - unmarked); cross paved park road, proceed straight (sign with trail names at park road intersection)
[ 0.75] Turn left to observation deck at Stephen's Creek; retrace steps
[ 0.95] Cross paved park road; continue straight to right on fitness trail
[ 1.55] Right at intersection; cross paved park road; veer left briefly then right on Oak Barrel Tree Road (unmarked) trail
[ 1.75] Turn left at intersection (#23 on tree) on Cribbers Road (unmarked)
[ 1.95] Go either way at fork - comes back together on same trail
[ 2.00] Cribber's Field on left with bird blinds
[ 2.40] Turn right at intersection on to boardwalk; keep straight at split
[ 2.65] Keep straight on boardwalk when Sand Hole Road (marked) and an unmarked trail go left
[ 3.05] Keep straight when boardwalk splits to left
[ 3.10] Keep straight when Frog Pond Road (marked) goes left
[ 3.55] Right on side trail to South River view (not on map)
[ 3.70] Right on side trail to second South River view (not on map)
[ 3.80] Smith Ireland Cemetery on left; Artesian well on right; walk straight by river access on gravel road; pass road to right with metal barrier; keep straight on Smokeless Powder Trail (unmarked) when Camping Loop Road (unmarked) turns sharply to the left
[ 4.15] Go straight beyond two posts with wire barrier
[ 4.25] Right at intersection on Duck Farm Road (marked)
[ 4.50] Keep straight on Duck Farm Road at intersection where North End Trail goes left (marked); at next split go either way - trails join together again
[ 4.95] Turn left at intersection with mountain bike trail (turn left where tree has both park and mountain bike blazes); trail will follow between two mountain bike trails.
[ 5.45] Left at intersection
[ 5.50] Keep straight as mountain bike trail crosses over; trail is hard packed sand covered with pine needles
[ 5.85] Right on Duck Farm Road at #200 on tree
[ 6.15] Keep straight at intersection
[ 6.30] Cross metal barrier and keep left on woods road
[ 6.45] Cross Artesian Well Road following sign for North End Trail
[ 6.55] Stay on North End Trail through parking lot and beyond barrier
[ 6.70] Left at unmarked intersection on Store House Road
[ 6.80] Straight at unmarked intersection where Rabbit Square Trail comes in from left
[ 6.95] Straight at unmarked intersection where Change House Trail comes in from left; trail becomes swampy
[ 7.05] At T-intersection turn right on Oak Ridge Trail (marked); pass ponds on right
[ 7.25] Trail becomes boardwalk; at first intersection right on Frog Pond Road, next intersection, left on Crossover Trail (unmarked)
[ 7.45] Straight at unmarked intersection of Eight Inch Road; short distance ahead veer left as unmarked Tin Box Road goes right
[ 7.60] Straight over TNT Road at unmarked intersection
[ 7.75] Keep right at unmarked intersection when unmarked Highbank Trail goes left; few steps ahead left on unmarked Sand Hole Road at yield sign
[ 7.90] Left at intersection briefly then right on boardwalk
[ 8.15] Keep right on boardwalk as trail joins boardwalk straight ahead
[ 8.25] Jog right off boardwalk then left back on to boardwalk
[ 8.35] Cross paved park road to continuation of boardwalk
[ 8.50] Arrive at paved trail behind Nature Center and follow to parking lot
Hike on level packed sand roads along ruins of a glassworks from the 1800’s and World War I munitions factories with bird viewing opportunities at ponds and fields. Cross a 1.8-mile boardwalk over swamps to views of the South River, an old cemetery and an Artesian well.
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.