Open year round, dawn to dusk. Portions of the trail close seasonally for hunting, except on Sundays.
(609) 730-1560 Website Google Maps Jacobs Creek Trail Map
Gravitas: Hiking: Proximity:
The Jacob’s Creek Preserve provides a little over a mile of trail along this famous creek, best known as a natural barrier that delayed Washington’s army on its fateful march to Trenton before dawn on Christmas morning of 1776. This took place a little over a mile downstream from this preserve, so no particular historic pedigree can be claimed for this hike.
It is, however, a charming, short reminder of a wilder time. Even the greediest real-estate developer recognizes that the flood plains of streams make terrible places to develop homes, so these areas are one of the few places permanently spared the suburban sprawl that characterizes much of central NJ around Trenton. The southern end of this walk is particularly charming, because it passes through farm land not yet subdivided into McMansion plots.
The Hidden Trenton hiking guide lists several, similar walks to this one, including the Stony Brook Trail in Princeton, and Fiddler’s Creek Preserve, also in Titusville. This is probably least prepossessing of the three, but charming in it’s own right: when I walked this path a great blue heron was winging along the creek-bed, below the tree canopy, only a few yards from me, and was as startled as I was when he noticed my presence and arced away. This isn’t the first place I’d go in Mercer County to hike, perhaps not even the 10th, but if you’re looking for some variation, it’s lovely.
Definitely use the southern trail-head on Pennington-Titusville Rd. First, it’s much the prettier spot (the northern parking area is surrounded by houses). Second, if you head south from the northern trail-head, you’ll need to cross Jacob’s Creek almost immediately, and at the time of this review, this meant wading across. There were no stepping stones or other aids. There’s a second crossing a few hundred yards downstream which was easy to negotiate in low water via stepping stones. At high water, you’ll get wet at either crossing. If you’re not prepared to wade (and in November, I wasn’t) you can still take in most of the hike from the southern trail-head.
The trail itself is easy to follow, tracking the banks of the creek fairly closely, but climbing 50 or 60 vertical feet in a couple of places. We’ve rated this hike intermediate only because the footing is at times a little irregular.