Monroe Township, NJ 08831
Overview of Selected Trail
Thompson Park is 675 acres in Monroe Township just south of Jamesburg Borough. The Park includes active recreational facilities, but also a natural area with several miles of trails. It is one of the largest parks owned and operated by the Middlesex County Parks Department. An active Open Space Preservation Program has preserved an additional 1000 acres south of the park that will provide additional hiking and recreational opportunities.. For more information visit Middlesex County Department of Parks and Recreation.
A total of about 4.5 miles of trail, including:
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
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
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.
Walking/Hiking, Dogs permitted on leash
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
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
Three parking areas are available. Two are off Fir Drive, which enters the park from Perrineville Road. A third is just east of the Thompson Park Zoo, reached from Lakeview Avenue off Forsgate Drive .
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.
Thompson Park provides restroom facilities, a performance gazebo, an “animal haven,” playgrounds, picnic groves (which can be reserved), 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-acre Manalapan Lake is an ideal spot for fishing.
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.
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.
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.
Red Trail: A sign marks the trailhead in the corner of the parking lot adjacent to the dog park,, 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 a junction with 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 Monroe High 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 at a three-way fork where it meets the Red Trail. Follow the center fork where the trail begins to descend gently, and soon pass another junction with the Red Trail on the right at just under .1 mile. The trail levels off and continues north through mature forest. The Blue Trail intersects at .3 miles, and at .57 miles. The Green Trail splits off to the right. The Yellow Trail begins a moderate climb, passing the Orange Trail on the right 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 takes off from the Yellow Trail just south of its intersection with the Orange Trail, and makes a loop going generally southeast and then west, ending at the Boy Scout Area, where it intersects with the Red Trail. 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 intersects some small streams and can be muddy in spots, especially in the spring. Adequate footwear is important.
Green Trail: The Green Trail begins from the park pathway that runs between Fir Drive and the park zoo. It runs east, parallel to a small feeder brook of Manalapan Brook. Footing can be difficult in some places, due to exposed tree roots. A spur heads to the right, crosses the stream and joins the Yellow Trail at .3 miles. Keeping left, the Green Trail continues for 200 feet bends left again and crosses a long boardwalk. Just beyond the boardwalk, at a fork with the White Trail, the Green Trail continues left to the Thompson Park spring, where it ends at .6 miles.
White Trail: The White Trail runs from the Green Trail north, crossing a small foot bridge. 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. .
Orange Trail: The Orange Trail offers a “short cut” off the Yellow Trail, branching to connect to the two parking areas off Fir Drive. The trail climbs and descends 50 feet over its short length.
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, May apple 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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