Carson Road Woods

Carson Road Woods is a superb, 183 acre swathe of preserved farmland midway between Princeton and Trenton. The preserve is a mix of woodlands and open fields, with mowed walk-ways along the margins. In a few places, trails are cut through woodlands, including, notably, an awe-inspiring stand of beech.

Baldpate Mtn: Pine Grove Hike

Suitable for hiking or biking (see Biking Notes): This has been one of our favorite walks on Baldpate for years, but we’ve never written about it in part because a critical segment was missing from the County’s map. This hike takes you through one of the very few stands of pine trees to be found on Baldpate, via a narrow, twisting trail that’s beautiful and fun to walk in almost any season. However, my favorite time to do this hike is in the winter, after a dusting of snow. Another great time to walk this is in July when the wild raspberries are in season. (Driving time is about 25 minutes; rated for intermediate to experienced hikers for elevations and because trails are poorly blazed. Intermediate hikers should load a GR Series Map into their smart phone, and be prepared for a longish hike.)

Haycock Mountain

Haycock Mountain is an entertaining, short hike (only about 0.75 mile from the trailhead to summit). You gain 460 vertical feet in this distance, which puts the average gradient about 12%, though the hike gets a fair bit steeper as you approach the summit. The payoff is the scramble: from roughly the midpoint of the hike to the summit, you’re picking your way through giant boulders. The short length and scrambly nature of the hike makes it particularly entertaining for experienced hiker-kids. It does require experienced hiker-adults to accompany them because the trail is poorly blazed, and appears as if it was never officially marked. (Driving time is just about an hour; rated for experienced hikers for elevation gain, scrambly nature, and poor blazing).

Bowmans Hill Tower Hike

Bowman’s Hill climbs a bit over 300 vertical feet from River Road, with an average gradient of over 25%. That’s pretty darn steep, and it’s one of only a handful of spots within half an hour of downtown Trenton where you can gain so much elevation. Most of this trail is on paved paths, but the climb up the hill is on a trail that’s no longer maintained, hard to find, and unmarked. But it’s short, sharp, and fun: definitely worth checking out by experienced hikers, given its proximity. (Driving time is only about 20 minutes from downtown; rated for experienced hikers only for elevation gain, steepness, and lack of blazing).

Woodfield Reservation

The Woodfield Reservation is an off-the-beaten track preserve in north-western Princeton. It provides just under two miles of woodland hiking trails, with the greatest elevation change you’ll find within the town limits (about 100 feet), and two geologic features that kids love. The trails are laid out in two intersecting loops that cross a series of small brooks which flow during the wet season. Note that the trails do get muddy in places, especially in the spring, and because they get relatively little use, can be narrow and brushy. (Driving time is about 25 minutes; rated Intermediate for brushy trails and poor signage).

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