Like many parks in New Jersey, Wells Mills Park began as an “industrial” site. In the late 1700s, James Wells dammed Oyster Creek and built a sawmill on this property. Cedar wood was prized for many uses such as shipbuilding and home construction. After passing through the hands of several different wealthy families, including the Mills family, the land was sold to the NJ Conservation Foundation in the 1970’s. Additional tracts were added, and the result is a gorgeous 900-plus acre park featuring white cedar and pin oak forests surrounding a serene lake.
We began our hike after admiring the Nature Center, which offers beautiful views of the lake. We picked up the White Trail to the right of the Center. The trail initially takes you along the lake. We wandered along a cedar scented wood chip strewn trail. Being inside a cedar grove is truly a wonderful experience for all the senses. There are several lookout points along the trail to view the lake from differing angles, including a bird blind.
As we slowly followed the trail away from the lake we moved over to the Green Trail. This segment of the trail is a bit more challenging, although not difficult. The path rolls up and down hills earning this trail a “moderate” rating. The elevation switch allows us to walk among more pin oak pines. The trail becomes covered in pine needles which is nice, as this means our footsteps are silent and allows us to hear just the absolute stillness of the woods.
The trail is well maintained and there are numerous varieties of plank bridges and small boardwalks to enable us to traverse the potentially muddier parts of the woods. Beware of storm damage as you wander this trail!
The Green Trail will lead to an intersection with the Joseph Citta Boy Scout Reservation. Follow to the right, continuing on the Green Trail. Now you’re walking on a big, wide, sandy road. At this point remember this is a multi-use park and there is the potential to encounter mountain bikers and horseback riders. This section is flat, and an easy walk through the pines.
Note: We didn’t spot much wildlife mid-day in mid-Jan. Our only company was a lone hawk circling the lake and one solitary squirrel. There was a lot of goose poop on the docks and boat launches so we can be certain geese are not a stranger to this beautiful lake. We also saw some leftover turkey tail mushrooms. As wet as this park must be is summer, I would guess this would be a mushroom lover’s kind of place in season. A side note, there was a large warning sign about ticks. My experience has been if they put up a sign, it’s probably a larger issue so if you come in season, please come prepared.
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