Abandoned Adventures at Jumping Brook Preserve

Dock overlooking lake with tall yellow grass in foreground

If you enjoy Franklin Parker Preserve, if abandoned cranberry bogs are your thing, or if you want to see beaver activity in NJ, I have a spot for you.

Jumping Brook Preserve in Plumstead Township has 351 acres. I could only find one small mention on the internet regarding this history of this location.  “Cranberry bogs provided berries for Mrs. King’s “Bog Sweet” canning factory, which eventually grew, moved back to Bordentown and became known as Ocean Spray”, according to the Ocean County Library website.

There’s really only one trail and it guides you past numerous old bogs.  The hardest part of the hike is locating the start of the trail off Cranberry Canners Road.  Across from the first private house you’ll see a small patch of grass to park.  The trail begins through the thin trees on the other side of the street.

The first part of the trail through these new growth trees is the muddiest part of the whole trip.  Once you come to the first bog, you’ll start to spot evidence of recent beaver activity.  Downed tree stumps surround the lake and extend out into some of the bogs.  They border the lakes in some spots almost like fence posts.

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Beaver dams are present at every lake we came upon near where the remains of the flood gates stood.  It was amazing to see not only how large some of the trees these brave animals took down, but also how they managed to redirect the water flow on every single lake until it was to their liking.  Since we were here in the middle of the afternoon, we didn’t see any beavers, but we did hear enough rustling in the reeds around us to realize we were not alone here.  My eagle-eyed partner did manage to point out one spotted turtle before it made a hasty escape back into the water.

The forest here is lovely.  It’s a new growth pine forest.  The trail is flat and sandy and it’s not a strenuous hike. This is just a preserve and the trail isn’t blazed and we saw no other people.   I had the feeling that if we came at sunrise, or sunset we would see an abundance of wildlife if we had the patience to sit quietly and wait.  One of these days we just might do that.

The beaver represents creativity in Native American traditions.  It stands for perseverance and hard work.  Perhaps it’s only fitting that if you want to spot a beaver, you must exhibit these same qualities.  For now, I am just grateful that NJ has preserved an area of land where these beautiful creatures can live in peace and prosper.

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