Hamilton Veterans Park

Hamilton Veterans Park

Hamilton Township Department of Recreation
2260 Kusar Rd, Hamilton, NJ 08690
6 AM to 8 PM
(609) 536-0311   Website    Google Maps     Trail Map GeoPDF

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Special notes for parents
This is a large-ish NJ town park with a Dog Run, tennis courts, baseball diamond, soccer fields, and much more. More relevant to hikers, it features a good sized lake that attracts water-fowl, particularly at the fall migration . Also, an extensive network of paved cycling trails, which is where most visitors choose to walk. However, there is an alternate trail network of hiking paths through the woods, which attracts relatively little traffic, enabling some sense of solitude amidst the hubbub. An M-60 tank and Cobra helicopter gunship are on display at the East Entrance, as is an F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber jet at the North Entrance. For some kids, this will be an exciting payoff. If yours is one of them, this hike may work for you.
The park features a lovely lake that attracts water fowl. What you don’t see are several dozen people behind the camera scurrying along a paved trail to the parking lot. Woods trails along the NE and SE banks (depicted in this image) offer much quieter if less dramatic views.

Contrasting Styles

This is a town park that offers everything you’d expect, plus a surprisingly pleasant, if slightly surrealistic, woods-walking experience. We’re evaluating this as a woods-hike, and as such it’s OK, but there are much better places to walk in the woods, even nearby (Clayton Park comes to mind, 15 minutes further east). The lake is lovely, and attracts migrating water-fowl in season. The Township has also erected veterans memorials displaying surplus, cold-war-era weaponry. For some people, in particular for the right kids, that’s a unique feature making the excursion worthwhile.

Most people walk on the paved paths (L), but the woods trails (R) are pleasant enough, though you’re generally aware of the more heavily trafficked trails nearby.
Click to enlarge.

If you are bringing kids to see the military hardware, I suggest entering via the south entrance, and following the paved service-roads to park your car near the Baseball Field, allowing you to hike to the displays while avoiding “spoiler” views from the car. Start by walking to the lake and following the Brown Trail east. It provides some of the best water-fowl views in the park, and is lightly traveled. If you follow it to the end, it will take you directly to the tank display.

The M-60 tank was the main battle tank of US Forces in Europe, starting with its introduction in 1959. It has been largely replaced by the M1 Abrams tank which was introduced in 1980, though some are still in service with the US Marine Corps and many are still in service with US allies. The tank is located near the East Entrance to the park off of Yardville-Hamilton Rd.

The AH-1 Cobra Gunship was introduced in 1967 during the Vietnam War until it was replaced by the Apache, and fully retired from US Forces in 2001. Cobras remain in service with US allies. It is located next to the M-60 tank.

The F-4 Phantom was the iconic fighter-bomber of the Vietnam War. Introduced in 1960, it remained in US service until 1996, and remains in limited service internationally (the Iranian air force still flies them, a legacy of their pre-revolution relationship with the US under the Shah). It is located near the North Entrance to the park, off of Klockner Road.

On our suggested route, from the tank, to return west, walk north on Hamilton-Yardville road and cross the bridge to catch the Orange Trail, just on the north side of the stream. When you reach the cycling path, turn right and follow it to the North Gate. If you’re planning to skip the jet, turn left to cross to the south bank of the stream.

If you do visit the Phantom, you can certainly explore the Green Trail for wildlife views on the lake. However, if you’re tiring, note this will take you pretty far west. The only bridge over the stream within the park is via the cycling path you took north from the Orange Trail. If you explore the Green Trail it will require you to double-back to the east, as you’re parked on the other side of the stream.

Once on the south side of the stream, you can return via the Brown Trail, or join the crowd on the paved cycling path. For variety, you can then take either the Red or Blue trails back towards the car (Red is more direct). These trails are hard-packed, and therefore not much slower than the paved trails, and easier on your joints.

Click to enlarge.

Whatever your feelings about the military hardware on display (and mine are decidedly mixed) the dedication of the park to the town’s veterans is sincere and heartfelt. Walking in the park a few days after Veteran’s Day, I came across this memorial to a loved one. It was the most poignant moment of the walk and, to me, the most meaningful. We owe our veterans an enormous debt for their sacrifice.

  1. bill
    | Reply

    Trying to track down some of the old F-4Es Phantoms that were with the USAF Thunderbirds from 1969 to 1974. The one you have 66-0286 severed with the USAF Thunderbirds. The USAF stopped flying the F-4E with the Thunderbirds in Jan.1974 due to fuel shortage in the country. Is there some way I could get some pictures of the aircraft’s fuselage, underside, and tail section from the back. I am the crew chief on 66-0294, it is at American Legion Post 109 in Corona de Tucson, AZ. These aircraft have a lot of history and would be great to see now they look today. Great looking park.

    Thank You

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