“An extensive hike through the woods and salt marshes using boardwalks, stairs, trails, and sandy roads.
— Charles Behnken
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Wildflowers
Families will enjoy the marked trails which are fairly easy, and use boardwalks and stairs in the hard parts. Additionally there is a kid friendly Nature Center on the trail.
This hike uses the standard red/green/blue/yellow trails in the park while also getting into the back areas of the park, including the site of Steamboat Landing. It utilizes the existing trails and the parks sandy roads to make a hike of 6.4 miles.
Need to Know
At the time of this hike the Crabbing Bridge and the Hooks Creek lake dam were both being repaired which required some adjustment. Check the park website for the latest status of the work.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day there is a day use fee for entrance to the park
This hike starts at the parking lot down the road from the park office.
To get going the right way, ignore the sign for trailhead start. Instead head to the east (left) to the road that leads to the group camping area. Look for the Green Trail
blazes. Continue down the road, and eventually the Green Trail
will head into the woods near the group camping area. At Perrine Road
, the Green Trail
turns left, following the road for a short distance, before turning off to the right. From here the Green Trail
will continue uninterrupted, passing houses on the left, for almost 1.5 miles.
When the Green Trail
intersects Museum Road
, take a left and follow the road for 0.5 miles. At the intersection with Dock Road
turn left (south) for a while until you come to the tall salt grasses. If you're lucky, you'll be serenaded by the birds hidden in the grasses. Just as the trail is about to head back into the woods, turn around and return back up Dock Road
. Pass the junction with Museum Road
continuing north on Dock Road
, following it to Steamboat Landing. Here there are pilings in the middle of Cheesequake Creek as well as a sign explaining the history of Steamboat Landing.
From Steamboat Landing turn back down Dock Road
and at the junction with Museum Road
take a left back onto Museum Road
returning to the intersection with the Green Trail
. Turn left onto the Green Trail
, continuing on it to the intersection with the Blue Trail
and Perrine Road
. Turn left following the road. When the Blue Trail
leaves Perrine Road
to the left, follow it out to Perrine Pond. The Blue Trail
winds through the woods around the pond and past a bird blind. Continue on the Blue Trail
until you come back to Perrine Road
. Turn left on the road.
Follow the road across Crabbing Bridge to Hooks Lake. Check out the viewing station opposite the Bathhouse to see the Osprey nest, and the Garden State Parkway in the distance. After checking out Hooks Creek Lake, head to the picnic area on the left of Hooks Creek Lake (via a gravel road that heads past the beach). There are restrooms at the picnic area, and its a nice place to stop for lunch.
After lunch, head back in the direction of the beach until you see a trail at the lake edge; this is Hooks Creek Lake Path
(unsigned). Turn left on the trail (away from the beach) and follow it clockwise around the lake. Eventually you'll intersect with the Yellow Trail
on the dam by some stairs. Take either fork; the right fork is recommended, but they lead to the same place. Continue on the Yellow Trail
which will take you back to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
Some very old oak trees. There is a 150 year old oak on the trail that fell in Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The forest also has pitch pine and cedar. The trail passes salt marshes full of saw grass.
Osprey nests are located on Cheesequake Creek with viewing spots on the trail.
History & Background
The featured hike takes you to Steamboat Landing which consists of a few pilings and an informational sign. In the 1800's steamboats used to tie up there to bring goods to Matawan and to load up the clay mined in the area.