This hike circles the northern section of Turkey Swamp Park. Although the park trails are open to bicycles and horses, they are frequented primarily by hikers. The Manasquan Trail is relatively little used – even on popular summer weekends – and offers an opportunity to find solitude, while following a nearly flat trail.
From the kiosk on the west side of the parking area, walk through the shelter building (just ahead)and turn left on a woods road. Proceed through a picnic area and bear right to continue on the green-blazed Alder Trail. When you reach the lake, bear left and continue along the beach.
At the end of the beach, bear left to continue on the Alder Trail. In a short distance, you’ll reach a signpost, where you turn left onto the blue-blazed Manasquan Trail. You will be following this nearly level trail for the next 2.5 miles.
The Manasquan Trail crosses a dirt road and proceeds through a deciduous forest, with some pines and an understory of blueberries, crossing several wet areas on boardwalks. After about a mile and a half, the trail crosses a stream and a wetland on a wooden bridge and bears left to head west.
Soon, you’ll begin to parallel the Manasquan River, to the right. This is the most interesting part of the hike. In a short distance, you’ll come to a bench, with a small rock dam in the river just beyond. Here, the trail turns left, away from the river, and proceeds through a more open forest, with an understory of grass.
In another mile, after a short, gradual climb, you’ll cross a dirt road that leads to the park’s archery range. Just beyond, the Manasquan Trail ends, and you should continue ahead on the green-blazed Old Lenape Trail, which joins from the left. A short distance beyond, a trail on the left leads to the park’s campground, but continue ahead on the Old Lenape Trail.
At the next T-intersection, turn right onto the Link Trail (also blazed green). The trail crosses a grassy woods road and then reaches a T-intersection with another grassy woods road. Turn left at this junction, cross a wide dirt road, and continue ahead along the edge of a field, with woods on the right. You’re now on the Fitness Trail (also blazed green), and you’ll pass several fitness stations.
At the end of the field, turn left, keeping the woods on the right (do not follow the dirt road which continues ahead). At the next signpost, turn right onto the Alder Trail. This trail is blazed green on signposts, but is also marked on trees with reddish-brown square blazes. The Alder Trail descends on a gravel path and continues through the woods, crossing several wet areas on boardwalks. Several side trails go off to the left, but continue ahead on the main trail, which soon emerges onto a parking area.
Turn left at the parking area, then right, passing several handicapped parking spaces. Just beyond, you’ll see a sign “Follow Alder Trail to Shelter Building and boats 0.6 mile.” Turn left here onto a paved road, which leads to a restroom building, then bear left at the restrooms to continue on the Alder Trail. Bear left again at the next intersection, then right at the following T-intersection, marked by a signpost.
The Alder Trail skirts the eastern end of the lake, then turns left at the next intersection. Soon, it emerges onto an open area. Continue ahead, with the lake on the left and woods on the right. Turn right at the next signpost, then left at the junction with the Manasquan Trail. Continue to follow the green markers to the shelter building and the parking area where the hike began.
Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazinon 06/21/2012updated/verified on 06/19/2012
This nearly flat hike loops around this Monmouth County park, paralleling the Manasquan River and following along a scenic lake.
This hike circles the northern section of Turkey Swamp Park. Although the park trails are open...
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.
Take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 123 and continue on Route 9 South for about 18 miles. Turn right on Jackson Mills Road, and almost immediately turn right again onto Elton-Adelphia Road (County Route 524). In 1.1 miles, turn left onto Georgia Road. Continue for 1.6 miles and turn right at the main entrance to Turkey Swamp Park. Follow the entrance road for 0.3 mile and turn left into the Oak Point Picnic Area. Park here.
The most interesting part of the park is definitely the lake, where this hike ends. The Manasquan Trail goes off into the woods, which are fairly featureless: it crosses a pretty stream and overlooks the Manasquan River in a non-photogenic way for a few feet. So, to be frank, it's a bit boring. But it's definitely worth checking out at least once; maybe twice to see different seasons. Thanks, NY-NJ TC, for posting this so people know it exists.