|803 Smithville Road, Eastampton Township, NJ |
Phone: (609) 265-5858
Burlington County Park System
Open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk. No ATVs or motorized dirt bikes. Only non-gasoline powered boats allowed on Smithville Lake. Equestrian use limited to one trail.
This is the first site on the trail. From I 295, take Exit 40 for Route 38 East. Proceed for 8.5 miles, through Mount Holly and turn Left on Smithville Road. Parking for the Smith’s Woods section is 0.5 miles on the Right on East Railroad Avenue. Continue less than 0.5 miles to parking lot on Left. Parking for the historic area and lake is 0.7 miles on the Left at Meade Lane. Map
New Jersey Transit Bus Lines No. 317 Asbury Park/Fort Dix/Philadelphia stops at Route 38 and Smithville Road. Walk 8 blocks on Smithville Road. Turn Right on Route 38. Walk a short distance on Route 38. Walking distance is less than a mile.
The Ravine Nature Trail is somewhat hidden behind the historic section. It has some big trees, including a 300-375 year-old white oak that is 57 inches in diameter at breast height, and a red oak and several tulip trees in the 30-40 inch category. It’s also a place to see bog iron deposits forming in the beds of a few small streams. One section of the trail runs along a high bluff above the Rancocas Creek, giving birders a view into the forest canopy on the opposite shore.
|Painted Turtle||Greg Vizzi
||Smithville Park boasts an excellent mix of human history and natural history. The park is the site of a turn-of-the-century industrial complex, and is listed on both National and State registers of historic places. Tours of the H.B. Smith Mansion are regularly scheduled. The park is roughly divided into two sections, the historic area and lake on one side of Smithville Road, and the more recently developed Smith’s Woods on the other side.
Between the forest, the lake, the historic mansion, workers’ residences and the ruins of the industrial buildings, there is plenty to explore. The birding is good year round, and in warmer months you can count on seeing turtles in the lake and butterflies in the gardens, among other types of wildlife. Picnic pavilions and gazebos can reserved for groups by calling the parks office.
The 600-foot long floating boardwalk on Smithville Lake is a great walk any time of year, but especially in the spring and summer when visitors will see dragonflies and swallows darting over the water’s surface, and turtles and fish below.
When the lake is not frozen, look for Ring-necked Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, and Hooded and Common Merganser overwintering. A walk in the woods will yield year-round birds such as Mourning Dove, Carolina Wren and Carolina Chickadee, as well as overwintering Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and sometimes Cedar Waxwing and Wild Turkey. Sightings of white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, and gray squirrel are common. Look near the edges of the lake and Rancocas Creek for raccoon tracks, which show five digits, like a miniature human hand.
Woodchucks begin to emerge from hibernation, insects slowly become active again, and woodland wildflowers such as Azalea begin to bloom. Spring bird migration in May brings piles of songbirds to the woods, including Black-throated Blue, Palm, and Magnolia Warblers as well as American Redstart, Northern Parula, Baltimore Oriole, Veery and Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. Spring Peeper, Green Frog, and Fowler’s Toad will begin to call in the evening, and Northern water snakes will hunt them.
This is a nice park for family fishing trips, where young anglers can expect to catch abundant sunfish. Largemouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, crappie, carp, catfish and American eel are also present. Even for those who aren’t interested in angling, these fish can sometimes be glimpsed from the floating walk sunning themselves near the lake’s surface on hot days. Resident birds include Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Wood-pewee and Eastern Towhee in addition to more common species. Spatterdock (yellow pond lily) blooms in the shallows of Smithville Lake. Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, and Rough-winged Swallow can be seen hawking insects over the lake, and egrets and herons will be fishing the shallows. Dragonflies include blue dasher, common whitetail, green darner, calico pennant, Carolina saddlebags, and Eastern pondhawk.
Butterflies are active through September and into October, and include tiger swallowtail, red-spotted purple, monarch, Appalachian Brown, and variegated fritillary, among others. Fall bird migration is just as varied as Spring, and includes Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Black Vulture, and Hermit Thrush. Chipmunks noisily gather food for the coming cold. Autumn foliage color peaks in late October.