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Not too long ago there was an article in the local paper about a nature preserve in Cape May County that has received very little publicity, so I decided to check it out. I pulled it up on google and printed out the directions, which I soon learned were wrong ( I will give you the correct ones at the end.) This would be a very good hike to combine with Belleplain SF, as it is in the same forest area. No signage on the way there,  the first sign you will see is actually the parking area. There are a total of about 3.5 miles of trails in the preserve. You will find the trailhead at the back of the parking lot (there is a map kiosk there, but it was empty. The young lady in the office was kind enough to print out a colored map for me off her computer.) I started out on the yellow trail which has multiple info signs along it with tree info and other info about that forest area. After that made a left on the blue and followed that a short distance where it forks.. The main trail continues to the right, but if you turn left you will go out on an overlook which looks over the West Creek.

looking off the "overlook", which is a boardwalk out over the marsh

 

 Turn back and backtrack and continue along blue trail until you meet with red trail, and turn on to red trail.. this is a typical trail through southern jersey forest area with a lot of pines and holly trees. The red trail is the longest of the trails at a little over 2 miles. All trails are blazed well, except where the trail turns, the turns are not marked. I caught myself looking for the trail once or twice, and noticed it went left or right with no warning, but was easily able to get back on track. The red trail eventually ends back at the yellow trail, which you turn left on.. the yellow trail will go through two fields and get very close to Route 47.. beware that on the second field, the trail goes along the back of the field before re-entering the woods, it was marked on a pine tree, but hard to see because of the overgrowth.

the yellow trail thru the field

The yellow trail will continue around and lead you back to the parking area.

Overall, it was an OK hike... my only complaint was the blazing at turns and trail maintenance seemed lacking... there were a lot of down trees across the trail. This is not a hike to do in shorts as there is an abundance of sticker bushes along the trail. Also, being that is near the creek, there are several muddy areas along the trails, but the preserve has done a nice job of putting "bridges" over the majority of them. The forest info signs along the yellow and blue trails also need cleaning as some of them are hard to read

 

Wildlife seen: Red-tailed hawk, white-tailed deer, and the usual turkey vultures that seem to accompany me on every hike.

Now, as for the directions... following the GSP South, use exit 25... make a right at the end of the exit and continue across route 9 following rte 623... 623 will then turn in to rte 631 in about a half mile, continue straight (the directions I had said turn left, which takes you back to rte 9).. follow 631 for appx 4 miles to rte 610 (Dennisville-Petersburg Rd).. follow rte 610 for appx 8 miles to Rte. 47, make a right .. follow rte 47 for appx 6 miles to the Preserve (rte.47 bears left about halfway, if you continue straigh you will be on rte 347 which takes you towards Belleplain). Entrance to preserve on right hand side, and easy to miss if you are going fast.

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