This hike follows the lollipop-loop Cedar Swamp Trail through the Spotswood Outlier of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, located about 20 miles north of the main Pine Barrens. It is characterized by sandy acidic soil and vegetation that is adapted to soil with few nutrients and little water holding capability. The hike proceeds through mixed hardwood forest wetlands and pitch...
This hike follows the lollipop-loop Cedar Swamp Trail through the Spotswood Outlier of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, located about 20 miles north of the main Pine Barrens. It is characterized by sandy acidic soil and vegetation that is adapted to soil with few nutrients and little water holding capability. The hike proceeds through mixed hardwood forest wetlands and pitch pine forests.
From the parking area, walk back (northwest) on Helmetta Boulevard for about 300 feet until you reach a crossing of a sand road. Turn right and head north on the sand road, soon passing a triple-orange blaze that marks the start of the orange-blazed Cedar Swamp Trail (the triple blaze may not be visible from the road).
Continue along the orange-blazed sand road, which is eroded in places and shows signs of use by off-road vehicles. The road soon curves to the left. Just ahead, a green-blazed trail begins on the right. This will be your return route, but for now, continue ahead on the orange-blazed sand road. Over the next half mile, the road makes two sharp turns to the right.
At a sharp curve to the left, about three-quarters of a mile from the start of the hike, you’ll come to a junction, which marks the start of the loop. The main sand road bears left here, but you should bear right and follow a lesser-used route, which has narrowed to a footpath. This route is little used by off-road vehicles and is thus the most pleasant part of the hike.
The trail descends very slightly, but enough to produce a noticeable change in vegetation (the open forest is replaced by a dense growth of thorny vines). Half a mile from the start of the loop, it crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge. In another quarter mile, the trail climbs a little and reaches a T-intersection with a sand road.
Turn left and follow the sand road as it heads northwest. This section of the road is also little used by off-road vehicles and is quite pleasant to hike. In 0.3 mile, you’ll reach another intersection. Follow the orange blazes, which turn left onto another sand road that shows signs of significant use by off-road vehicles.
After passing a wet area on the left, you’ll reach the end of the loop portion of the hike. Bear right and continue along the orange-blazed sand road, which soon makes a sharp right turn. A short distance beyond this turn, a green-blazed trail begins on the left. Turn left onto this trail, which climbs over a rise to end at a second junction with the orange-blazed sand road. Turn left, follow the orange-blazed sand road back to Helmetta Boulevard, then turn left onto Helmetta Boulevard to return to your car.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/25/2014 updated/verified on 04/10/2023
This hike meanders through a section of the Spotswood Outlier of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, with its unique ecological area of mixed hardwood forests and pitch pines.
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.