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It was supposed to be about 7 degrees warmer in southern New Jersey so that is where I headed. I believe it was a bit windier there but surprisingly the trees held the wind back on the trails so with sufficient layers, hiking was very comfortable. I was amazed at how many people were camping in the campground in the cold but I had the trails all to myself - not another soul out hiking. The East Creek Trail part of this hike is in "50 Hikes in New Jersey" 2nd edition, page 232. Apparently that was written in the late 90's when the East Creek Trail had not been well maintained, just prior to a refurbishing of the trail. I had also read some reviews saying the trail was very wet and swampy. There must have been ongoing maintenance since the refurbishing as there were many bridges and boardwalks (none slippery like the book noted), one very long brand new section of boardwalk with only couple of very short swampy sections near the end of the trail. The Ponds Trail out to Pickle Factory Pond, however, was very overgrown and in need of maintenance. Details of the hike are here.

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Comment by njHiking.com on December 7, 2010 at 11:17am
We planned on adding this to the site last winter, but we never got down there with all the snow that south Jersey got. We've been to Belleplain several times for gatherings at the big cabin, but it's always been in the summer when the heat and bugs of the pine barrens make hiking less than fun.

It's also a good place for birding; we've spotted bald eagles there. I thought I'd read somewhere that there are sections of trail closed part of the year to protect nesting birds, but I am not certain on that.

(and the group cabin is nice to rent for gatherings; big kitchen, bathrooms/showers, lots of bunks if you want to stay over, and right on the lake.)
Comment by William and Marieann Bannan on December 7, 2010 at 9:42pm
very nice... being from SJ , this is one of the nicest places for me to hike... glad you enjoyed it.

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