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 Office 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 miles
Green Trail: 0.8 miles
Orange Trail: 0.54 miles
White Trail: .36 miles
Red Trail: 45 minutes to one hour
Blue Trail: 30-45 minutes
Yellow Trail: 30-45 minutes
Green Trail: 30 minutes
Orange Trail: 15 minutes
White Trail: 10 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
Orange Trail: minimal elevation change
White Trail: 40-50 ft. gradual elevation
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 — one near the off-leash dog area and one near the spring. A third is just past the Thompson Park Animal Haven, 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.
The trails at Thompson Park are popular. Some trails will not be as crowded as others, but expect to see other trail users.
Our trails are open from sunrise to sunset. All dogs must be on leashes. Please feel free to pick up any litter on our trails.
Trails are mostly dry after a day of rain, except for some muddy areas. Some trails would be undesirable to walk on during rain, because of slippery rocks and bog-walks.
An information kiosk is located at the beginning of the Red Trail by the off-leash dog area.
For assistance, Park Ranger Unit #732-745-3800
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 a disc-golf course, 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 boating and fishing.
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service maintains a fire tower on the property. Visitors may climb the tower if it is occupied by a Forest Fire Service official or volunteer.
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 off-leash dog park, just to the left of the information kiosk. There is a bench on the right dedicated to Alvin Hauser. Alvin was President of the Explorers Hiking Club of Greenbriar-Whittingham and was instrumental in the initial layout and marking of the trails at Thompson Park. The trail begins in mature, upland forest and reaches the junction with the Orange 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 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 on a series of turnpikes (there is no bridge), the Red Trail continues up a small embankment and turns left, ending at the Yellow Trail at 1.6 miles.
Yellow Trail: The Yellow Trail is a 0.9-mile loop in the center of the trail system. It connects with the Red, Blue, Orange and Green Trails at various locations. For most of the route it follows an old woods road with some changes in elevation.
Blue Trail: This trail is accessed from either the Yellow Trail or the Red Trail. Leaving the junction with the Yellow Trail, the trail quickly turns left and reaches a small open area with benches. Following the trail to the right it wanders across the slope and crosses the Yellow Trail at .04 miles. Continuing along the bank overlooking the Manalapan Brook, the trail reaches the intersection with the Red Trail at 0.7 miles. Here the Blue Trail turns left down an embankment and crosses a wet area on a series of turnpikes. The trail turns right immediately after the wet area and continues along the feeder stream. You will cross a small footbridge and ascend a series of steps built by the Middlesex County Conservation Corps. Trail turns left at the top of the stairs, crosses several boardwalks and ends at the junction with the Red Trail at 1.1 miles. 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 approximately 0.1 miles up the park service road from the Spring Parking Area. The trail begins on a slight decline to a junction at 0.21 miles. Straight ahead across the boardwalk and up a series of steps connects to the Yellow Trail. Turning left before the boardwalk, the trail crosses a small footbridge and follows a small feeder stream of the Manalapan Brook. It meanders through a stand of Norway spruce, reaching the junction with the White Trail on the right at 0.65 miles. Continue straight for another 0.1 miles where the Green Trail exits into a grass clearing. Follow the tree-line back to the park service road. Turn left to return to the Spring Parking Area or turn right to the parking area by the animal haven.
White Trail: The White Trail begins at the base of the former ski hill and can be accessed from the parking area near the animal haven. The trail enters the woods and crosses several boardwalks before turning uphill. It continues through a switchback, crosses a few more boardwalks and ends at the junction with the Green Trail at 0.36 miles.
Orange Trail: The Orange Trail begins at the Spring Parking Area. It travels through an old field, eventually entering the woods. A junction is reached at 0.25 miles. Straight ahead the trail crosses a small footbridge and ends at the Yellow Trail. Turning right, the trail follows a small feeder stream before turning away and heading up-hill. The Orange Trail ends at the junction with the Red Trail at 0.54 miles.
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. The fire tower was built in 1961 and is maintained by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Volunteers continue to staff the fire tower to keep a watchful eye over Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset counties.
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 part of an Eagle Scout project by Matt McSherry, Troop 33 and are currently maintained by the Middlesex County Conservation Corps. For more information visit Middlesex County Conservation Corps.
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