Know the New Hiking How-tos
Richard W. DeKorte Park Short Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take the New Jersey Turnpike to Exit 16W and proceed west on N.J. Route 3. Take the exit for N.J. 17 south. At the traffic light at the end of the ramp, turn left onto Polito Avenue and follow it to its end at Valley Brook Road. Turn left onto Valley Brook Road and continue for 1.5 miles to a railroad crossing. Bear left just past the railroad crossing and enter Richard W. DeKorte Park. Turn right into the parking lot and continue to its southwestern end, just before the Meadowlands Environment Center.
From the Environment Center, follow the brick-paved Shorewalk that heads northeast along the shore of the Kingsland Impoundment (shown on the park trail guide as the Shorebird Pool West). To the right, there are excellent views of the New York City skyline.
In 900 feet, the Marsh Discovery Trail begins on the right (a short distance north of the security booth at the entrance). Turn right and follow this trail – a boardwalk which links a series of dredge-spoil islands that were formed by dumping sediment from dredging operations along Kingsland Creek. Phragmites marsh reeds line the trail. Since the park is situated along the Atlantic Flyway, many species of birds and waterfowl can be observed. Benches and wildlife observation blinds provide opportunities to linger for a while and observe the natural surroundings.
In half a mile, the Marsh Discovery Trail ends at a junction with the Transco Trail. Turn right and follow the Transco Trail along a dike constructed in 1950 for a buried gas pipeline. The dike separates the waters of the Kingsland Impoundment - to your right - from the Saw Mill Creek Wildlife Management Area - to your left. Many native species have been planted along the trail, and several former truck turnarounds have been converted to scenic overlooks.
Just past a gate at the end of the trail, you will reach a four-way junction. Turn right and continue on a dirt path, which becomes a brick-paved path in front of the Administration Building of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. In 400 feet - near the end of the building - you will see a marked crosswalk. Turn left, cross the paved road, then turn right and continue up a hill.
You are now on the Kingsland Overlook Trail, which climbs an artificial mound, created by a landfill for household waste. This former eyesore has been capped by a waterproof plastic substance, covered with topsoil, and planted with attractive shrubs and trees. Walking along this beautiful trail, it is hard to imagine that it was once the site of a garbage dump! The trail provides views of the Kingsland Impoundment below, and the New York City skyline may be seen in the distance (although the views are partially obscured by the vegetation planted to reclaim the area). The Kingsland Overlook Trail ends opposite the start of the Marsh Discovery Trail. Turn right to reach the parking area, where the hike began.