I love hiking; by now that is pretty obvious to anyone that has been following my articles. For me, there are two components to a successful hike, the terrain and the opportunities to capture some unique shots along the way. Tall Pines State Park at first glance didn’t look like it was going to be a successful outing, but first impressions can be deceiving.
The History of Tall Pines State Park
Founded in 2016, Tall Pines State Park is the only state-owned park in Gloucester County. These 110 acres are pretty flat overall, we did walk up a couple slight hills in our travels. The fact that this land is a former golf course explains the 4 miles of paved trails within the park. At this time, we didn’t notice many blazed trails but since the trails are paved and loop around, you really can’t get lost.
An Old Golf Course, Turned Into An Outdoor Oasis
Typically I prefer more rugged trails, but since we had driven a while to get here we decided to take our chances and see what the park had to offer. We did walk among some beautiful tall pine trees as we began our trek. The first interesting thing we encountered were the blue bird nesting boxes. As I stepped closer to investigate, a blue bird popped out and landed on a nearby tree. As we continued walking we saw several more bright eastern blue birds hopping from tree to tree.
There Are Ponds Here Too!
The path soon led us to a couple of ponds. These ponds were populated by an abundance of small turtles. We had to wait quietly by the pond for a while to get any turtle shots as these guys are hyper sensitive to sound and motion.
If you continue on the path you’ll come to the Mantua Creek. After crossing a small bridge, we discovered some railroad tie steps that seem to lead to a clearing. We are guessing that once a structure stood here, but the remains are long overgrown.
We followed the path back around through the marshlands. We came to a bridge bordering a small lake. This is when I fell in love with this park. A great blue heron was perched on the far bank of the lake surrounded by double digit number of turtles clinging to various logs while a goose swam calmly back and forth. It was like a scene from a fairy tale. We stayed at this lake for a long time, since the heron was more cooperative than a super model at a photo shoot. About 100 snaps later, I was ready to move on.
If you’re reading this far, you obviously enjoy hiking and are looking for new places to explore. If you love wildlife photography too, I’m going to strongly suggest you add Tall Pines to your list. You can get your healthy four miles in and you may just come upon a site so beautiful you fall asleep at night smiling back on the memory of the day.