John A. Phillips Preserve
Today was our last hike of winter 2013-2014, one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record in recent years. Spring arrives this coming Thursday (March 20, just before 1 PM). But with temperatures in the 50s (at the start) and in the 60s (at the end) and very windy, it already felt like spring. Aside from a large pile of snow in the parking lot, the entire hike was completely free of snow. Today we headed to the northern border of the Pine Barrens (not far from where I spent the first 25 years or so of my life) to hike nearly all the marked trails in this lovely little preserve tucked between Route 18 and Old Bridge-Englishtown Road following this hike on the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference web site. But we also added the Pine Glen Spur (which ends unceremoniously at a dumpster behind an apartment complext) and a loop on the white trail in the SW of the preserve (which the hike description says is unattractive due to ATV damage, we thought it was fine).

While the park is far north of the heart of the Pine Barrens, it felt at times as if we were smack in the middle of the "Pinies". Nearly the entire hike was lined with pine needles, making for a nice soft surface, and beach-like sand was on the main woods roads.

Total distance hiked today was 5.5 miles in 3 hours.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

SE corner of lot

Sign for trails

Walking south between soccer fields

Exercise stations

Trail head at woods edge

Kiosk at trail head

Nature trail south

Checking hike description


It feels like ...

... the Pinies

Nature trail post 2


Small wet spot

Nature trail

Private residence

Crossing ...

... Iresick Brook

Iresick meandering

Lots of pines!

The white-blazed ...

Pleasant Valley trail

Orange-blazed Blueberry Flats

Another bridge over ...

... Iresick Brook

And another

Very old iron something or other

[Photo by Laura]

Gorgeous ...

... trees


Pine cone

Blueberry Flats

Getting bearings



Into the sun

Hunting platform

End of Pine Glen Spur

Bridge up ahead

Beach sand in tree trunk


Bridge on blue-blazed ...

... Old Bridge Sands trail

Sweet gum ball


Bridge on blue

Bridges south of ...

... Pleasant Valley Road

On White

Well alright then!

Hunting platform

On the white rectangle to SW

Sweetgum balls on path

Sweetgum balls

ATV damage

Happy that winter is over!


Gorgeous pine needle path

Woods road back to car

[Photo by Laura]

Laura dwarfed by pines

Out of the woods

Heading north

Controlled burning was taking place


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