Middlesex
Monroe Township

Thompson Park
Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Overview of Selected Trail

Thompson Park is 675 acres on the edge between Jamesburg Borough and Monroe Township. The Park contains many recreational facilities, but has also retained a natural area filled with several miles of trails. It is owned and operated by the Middlesex County Parks Department and is one of the largest parks in the system. An active Open Space Preservation Program has preserved an added 1000 acres to the south of the park that will provide additional hiking and recreational opportunities to the area. For more information visit Middlesex County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Trail Map
Summary
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  • Thompson Park
  • Distance:

    Red Trail: 1.6 miles

    Blue Trail: 1.1 miles

    Yellow Trail: 0.9 mile

    Green Trail: 0.8 mile

    Orange Trail: 0.1 mile

    Time:

    Red Trail: 45 minutes to one hour

    Blue Trail: 30-45 minutes

    Yellow Trail: 30-45 minutes

    Green Trail: 30 minutes

    Orange Trail: 5 minutes

    Markings:

    Trails are marked with rectangular blazes corresponding to the color of the trail. Note: IGNORE the boy scout emblems, round spray paint and alpha-numeric codes on trees.

    Trail Usage:

    Walking/Hiking, Dogs permitted on leash

    Elevation:

    Red Trail: 40 feet, gradual elevation; (1) steep embankment

    Blue Trail: 40-50 feet, steep descent/ascent; several steep embankments

    Yellow Trail: 40 feet, moderate ascent/descent

    Green Trail: minimal elevation change; (1) steep embankment

    Difficulty:

    Red, Blue, Yellow & Green Trails: Easy to moderate, a few steep, but short climbs up embankments; wet or unstable footing (exposed roots) in a few sections.

    Orange Trail: Difficult; steep ascent over a short distance

    Parking:

    Two parking areas are available, both off Fir Drive in the park.

    Red, Green & Yellow Trails: Park next to the Off-Leash Dog Area.

    Blue, Yellow and Green Trails: Park next to the Thompson Park “spring.”

    Tips:

    The trails can be muddy in spots, especially in the spring. There are also several small stream crossings without bridges. Adequate footwear is important. Deer ticks are present – please protect yourself by wearing light clothing, tucking pants into socks, etc.

    Amenities:

    Thompson Park contains restroom facilities, performance gazebo, animal haven, playgrounds, reserveable picnic groves and an array of recreational facilities including soccer, baseball and softball fields as well as tennis, basketball and handball courts.

    Regularly scheduled concerts are held at the gazebo during the summer and the 30-acrea Manalapan Lake is an ideal spot for fishing.

    Directions:

    From New Brunswick:

    Travel Route 1 South to Route 130 South. Follow Route 130 South to Route 32 East. Take Route 32 East towards Jamesburg. Route 32 East turns into Forsgate Dr.(CR 612). Continue on Forsgate Drive to the traffic light intersection with Perrineville Rd (CR 625). Turn right onto Perrineville Rd and follow approx. 1 mile. Turn left into Thompson Park on Fir Drive.

    Parking: Off Leash Dog Area – ¼ mile down on your right.

    Parking: Thompson Park spring – Continue another ¼ mile down the hill, bear right to the parking area.

    From New Jersey Turnpike:

    Take Exit 8A onto County Route 612 East (Forsgate Dr.) towards Jamesburg. Follow to the traffic light intersection with Perrineville Rd (CR 625). Turn right onto Perrineville Rd and follow for approx. 1 mile. Turn left into Thompson Park on Fir Drive.

    Parking: Off Leash Dog Area – ¼ mile down on your right.

    Parking: Thompson Park spring – Continue another ¼ mile down the hill, bear right to the parking area.

    From Princeton:

    Travel Route 1 North to Scudders Mill Road (CR 614 East). Follow CR 614 East through Plainsboro (Scudders Mill Rd turns into Dey Road) and continue across Route 130 to the end at CR 535 (Cranbury-South River Rd). Turn left onto CR 535 North and follow to Route 32 East. Take Route 32 East towards Jamesburg. Route 32 East turns into Forsgate Dr. (CR 612). Continue on Forsgate Drive to the traffic light intersection with Perrineville Rd (CR 625). Turn right onto Perrineville Rd and follow approx. 1 mile. Turn left into Thompson Park on Fir Drive.

    Parking: Off Leash Dog Area – ¼ mile down on your right.

    Parking: Thompson Park spring – Continue another ¼ mile down the hill, bear right to the parking area.

  • Red Trail: A sign marks the trailhead in the corner of the parking lot, just to the left of the information kiosk. The trail begins in mature, upland forest and reaches the junction with the Green Trail on the left at .06 miles. The trail continues with gentle changes in elevation, passing a connector trail to the soccer fields on the right at .25 miles and intersects with the Yellow Trail at .5 miles. Turn right and follow the Red/Yellow Trail through the Boy Scout Area. At .53 miles, the Yellow Trail splits off to the left – continue straight on the Red. At 0.57 miles the Red Trail reaches the junction of the Blue Trail and heads off to the right. The trail traverses several small slopes, passing two connector trails on the right that head to the back of the MonroeHigh School. The trail continues through upland forest, turns left and parallels the railroad tracks, eventually reaching the Manalapan Brook at 1.2 miles. The trail follows the bank of the brook until it reaches a small stream and the junction with the Blue Trail on the left at 1.4 miles. Crossing the small stream (there is no bridge), the Red Trail continues up a small embankment to the left, and ends at the Yellow Trail at 1.6 miles.

    Yellow Trail: The Yellow Trail begins at the Boy Scout Area where it forks at the junction with the Red Trail. Follow the center fork where the trail begins to descend gently, passing the junction with the Red Trail on the right at just under .1 mile. The trail levels off and continues through mature forest. The Blue Trail intersects from the right at .3 miles and the Orange Trail intersects on the left shortly thereafter. The trail descends again, passing an unmarked Scout Trail on the left at .5 miles. At .53 miles, the Green Trail joins from the right. The Green Trail splits off to the right at .57 miles and the Yellow Trail begins a moderate climb, passing the unmarked Scout Trail on the left at .64 miles and the Orange Trail on the left at .69 miles. The trail levels off with the Red Trail joining from the right at .86 miles and ending at the Boy Scout Area at 0.9 miles.

    Blue Trail: The Blue Trail begins along the Yellow Trail near the intersection of the Orange and ends at the Boy Scout Area. For much of its length, it follows the edge of the Manalapan Brook and small feeder streams. It crosses two small marsh areas via boardwalks and intersects the Red Trail. The trail does intersect some small streams and can be muddy in spots, especially in the spring. Adequate footwear is important.

    The Blue Trail begins at a fork in the Yellow Trail shortly after the intersection with the Orange Trail. The trail descends rather steeply along the edge of the brook and then begins a short, but steep ascent along the bank. The trail continues on the bank above the brook where it is joined by the Red Trail from the right at .2 miles. Here the Blue/Red Trails crosses a small stream (there is no bridge) and the Blue Trail turns right, following the edge of the stream. The trail parallels the stream, crossing planks over several wet areas and reaches a bridge at .4 miles. The trail crosses the bridge, climbs a steep embankment and turns left. The trail continues across two sets of bog-walks and ends at the junction of the Red Trail at .6 miles.

    Green Trail: The Green Trail winds through mature forest, while following and crossing a small feeder stream to the Manalapan Brook before it ends at the bottom of the former “ski hill”. The Red and Yellow Trails can be accessed from the Green Trail.

    The Green Trail begins .06 miles from the start of the Red Trail. Turning left off the Red Trail, it descends gradually down to a small stream. Following the edge of the stream, the footing can be difficult in some places, due to exposed tree roots. The trail crosses the stream and joins the Yellow Trail at .3 miles. Turning left, the combined Green/Yellow Trail continues for 200 feet where the Green Trail turns left again and crosses a long boardwalk. Just beyond the boardwalk, the Green Trail splits. The left fork continues to the ThompsonPark spring ending at .6 miles. The right fork crosses a small foot bridge and turns right again. For a short while, the trail continues along the edge of a small stream before turning away and skirting the edge of a stand of spruce. The trail continues on a slight incline until it enters a field at the former ski hill at .8 miles.

    Orange Trail/Scout Trail: Both the Orange Trail and Scout Trail are short, steep trails that offer “short cuts” off the Yellow Trail. Each trail is approximately .1 miles and climbs and descends 50 feet over that distance. The Scout Trail is unmarked, but has benches at the top of the trail before the descent.

  • Thompson Park is primarily mature forests dominated by oak, hickory and tulip poplar. Dogwood, sassafras, spicebush and catbrier spread through the understory, while ground cedar, black stemmed spleenwort and an array of spring ephemerals (spring beauty, mayapple and bloodroot) carpet the forest floor. The wetland areas along the Manalapan Brook are filled with jack-in-the pulpit and skunk cabbage while the brook itself is home to mallards, black ducks, great blue herons and the occasional mink. The muddy edges of the brooks are ideal spots for tracks of raccoon, opossum and white tail deer. Birders can enjoy a variety of songbirds at the height of the season. Over 60 different species have been cataloged at the park including Tennessee warbler, indigo bunting, willow flycatcher, common yellowthroat, yellow breasted chat and green heron to name just a few. Wild turkeys are common in the fall as are grey squirrels, feeding on acorns left by the oaks. A small portion of the park falls within the Spotswood outlier, a small island of pine barrens habitat separated from the main core of the Pine Barrens in South Jersey. Scattered Pitch pine and blueberry can be found throughout the park and sandy soil is evident along the Red Trail.

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  • The original land for Thompson Park was acquired in 1955-56 and was added to in subsequent years. The park provides protection to the 30-acre Manalapan Lake and Manalapan Brook.

    Trails were originally laid out and marked by volunteers of the Explorers Hiking Club of Greenbriar-Whittingham, Monroe Township. The trails were updated in June 2004 as park of an Eagle Scout project by Matt McSherry, Troop 33 and are currently maintained by the Middlesex County Conservation Corps. For more information visitMiddlesex County Department Conservation Corps.

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    Thompson Park

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