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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve Review


Hours: 6:30AM - 7:00PM
Trail head at the parking lot.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to explore a new area and some new trails (new to me anyway) in South Jersey. I visited the Maurice River Bluffs Preserve in Millville, NJ managed by The Nature Conservancy. I first learned of the preserve through a coworker who recommended I check it out if I want some trails with hills to run. Coming from a non running, South Jersey native I honestly did not have high expectations for the trails there. After checking out the trail map and the website, I figured that in the worst case scenario I could at least get a four mile loop on some new trails. When an open Saturday presented itself, I made the 45 minute drive from home hoping for the best case scenario.

Arriving at the entrance, I was greeted by The Nature Conservancy sign and followed the narrow, single lane dirt road through the woods to the parking lot. The lot was nearly full and I immediately worried that the trails would feel crowded. I was pleased after the completion of my first lap around the perimeter of the trail system to find that it was about a 4.4 mile loop and did not feel crowded at all. I attribute this to the intricacy of the trail network. I believe the variety of options of interconnected trails allows visitors to disperse enough so as to not make the 535 acre preserve feel overcrowded even at peak use times.
Trail map.
Besides the variety of trails offered, another aspect of the preserve that impressed me was the hills. Don’t get me wrong, it is still South Jersey, but my 20 mile run got me over 1400’ of elevation gain according to Strava. I realize that 1400’ is laughable in many other areas, but for us flatlanders in South Jersey it makes this reserve valuable elevation training ground.


I already mentioned how impressed I was with the depth and variety of the many connected trails at the preserve. Which is why I was so surprised to find that it appeared that they were in the process of expanding the trail network at the preserve. At many points during my run I noticed unblazed trail marked with flagging. During my third lap around the perimeter I decided to get adventurous and follow one of these new trails. The appeared to have been marked and cleared for some time as I saw many mountain bike tire tracks along the lengths of them. I expect the trail map to be updated to include these newly blazed trails in the near future.

Lastly, I was impressed by the beauty of the sights throughout the preserve. A good portion of the perimeter loop follows the Maurice River and offers some great vistas along the way. The remainder of the trails wind mostly through forests dominated by pine, red cedar, and wild black cherry trees offering a good deal of shade. Maybe the reason the preserve appeared so attractive to me was just because the whole area was new to me, but maybe not. I’ll let you be the judge…


Scott Snell
February 7, 2018

Video of my day at the preserve:






Great trail signage throughout the preserve.

One of the few open areas.

One of the river vistas.

Another river vista.

Most of the steeper sections have stairs.

A water source.

The trail follows a bit of a ridge line for a stretch.

Another view of the ridge line.

The trails were dry when I visited, but I could see them having some seasonal wet areas.

It was a bit cool out.

A bridge on the orange trail.

Another view of the bridge.

An historic stone building.

A view of the inside.

A fresh water pond.

A serious fungal infection.

A section of nearly all pine forest.

Switchbacks in South Jersey?

I guess I was the last one here.




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