Described as a hidden gem, Rancocas State Park in Hainesville, New Jersey, offers up plenty of outdoor activities for those looking to explore. As the trail guide states, the park spans 550.75 acres, including 8.2 miles of marked hiking trails. The park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk. It’s off the beaten path, so it might be a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel for easy and quick access to your favorite outdoor activities.
Drop in at the Rancocas Nature Center
The Rancocas Nature Center is a fantastic place to start to get the most out of your exploration. While bikes and pets are welcome on the trails in the rest of the park, the trails at the Nature Center are off limits to them. Check the website before you visit because the park offers a wide variety of activities that entertain and inform. Make sure to make a pit stop before you head out to the rest of the park because the only restrooms are at the Nature Center.
Explore The Trails
Image via Flickr by Alan Levine
The rustic setting lends itself to birdwatching, and there are QR codes on the trail markers to help you identify the local flora if you are keeping to your own two feet. While bikes are not allowed at the Nature Center, you’ll have free reign in the rest of the park. This area can also be explored on horseback. If there is snow on the trails, you are also welcome to use snowshoes or skis. It should be noted that during the winter and fall months, some of the park is posted for game hunting.
Make sure you look to the skies along your hike. This area is an excellent spot for those excited about ornithology. The Rancocas area is home to several species of protected birds. For a change of pace, many migratory birds can be seen during the winter months. Because the bird species varies according to the seasons, Rancocas State Park is an ideal place to visit year-round. The complete list of species can be found here. The park is home to several bald eagle nests.
Just Add Water
If you have already been through the network of hiking trails, you will be glad to know that there is another way to enjoy the scenic lowland marsh areas via the Rancocas Creek. The park allows canoe access through the Rancocas Creek Canoe Trail. Canoeing is best enjoyed in the warmer months for beginners, so keep that in mind as you create your outdoor itinerary. The Rancocas Creek is also a prime fishing spot for catfish and bass, especially.
If you’re looking for a place to feel close to nature, Rancocas State Park just might be the place you’re looking for. The trails are extensive for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. This is a very rustic park that provides local delight and inspiration around every corner. You’ll be glad you took the time to explore this quaint little forest.