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...
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:
- From the office in front of the Oak Point parking area, head southeast to connect with the Alder Trail (Green) at lake’s edge
- 750 ft: Follow Alder Trail to start of Manasquan Trail (Blue), left
- 500 ft: Cross park entrance road
- 1500 ft: set of plank bridges, few hundred feet apart
- 1000 ft: Trail makes left down old access road for 500 ft, then breaks off. Trail posts point way
- 2000 ft: Bridge crossing stream in shallow valley
- 500 ft: Parallel bypass of old trail for about 1000 ft
- 750 ft: South bank of Manasquan River
- 750 ft: Trail breaks away from river
- 2000 ft: Trail reaches of end of swampy area, becomes sandy
- Junction with unmarked trail leading southwest. Trail post points direction of Manasquan Trail
- Cross road leading to archery range
- Manasquan Trail ends at trail post. Continue forward on Old Lenape Trail (Green)
- 500 ft: Pass spur trail leading to campgrounds on left
- 1500 ft: Pass Link Trail on right. Trail post points direction of Old Lenape Trail
- 1000 ft: 4-way intersection. Campgrounds left. Fitness Trail right
- 750 ft: Fork, follow to left
- 250 ft: Cross road
- 250 ft: Parking Area
This loop provides access to the Manasquan River and traverses the north side of the park, passing through pine barrens, hardwood forests, and wetlands
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.