Cheesequake State Park Cheesequake Cedar Swamp

Matawan, New Jersey 7747

Cheesequake State Park Cheesequake Cedar Swamp

Cheesequake State Park: Cheesequake Cedar Swamp Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Opened in 1940, Cheesequake State Park is Middlesex County’s only state park. It lies between New Jersey’s northern and southern vegetation zones, making it a transitional area with unique plant and animal life over diverse terrain. While hiking the green-blazed Cedar Swamp Trail, the longest in the park, you’ll have closeup views of pine barrens similar to those in the southern part of the state; a freshwater swamp with outstanding specimens of Atlantic white cedar, sweetbay magnolia, and red maple; and a mature hardwood forest, where American beech, black birch, and white and red oak predominate.

More than 180 species of birds have been sighted in these woods, as well as many mammals, including red foxes, white-tailed deer, and chipmunks. There’s still a lot of speculation about how the park was named. Some believe its origin is from the Lenni-Lenape Indian word chichequaas, meaning “upland village.” But because Cheesequake lies on a fault where tectonic movement has been recorded as recently as 1979, others think it was named because the earth trembles like cheese! When you explore the quaking bogs in the marshes, you may agree with this explanation."

Cheesequake State Park: Cheesequake Cedar Swamp Trip Reports

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Cheesequake is the only state park in my home county of Middlesex, and it is thus the easiest to get to for me. During the summer or concert weekends this place is flooded with people, so if you've come expecting total isolation, then I hate to disappoint you. The trail system is well established, and a whole bunch of local Boy Scouts (mostly from from the nearby Brunswicks) have improved sections of the trail as part of Eagle Scout projects. While it is sparsely marked, the trail is very hard to lose except in some choice parts. For the most part the trail is flat, and many areas are totally planked. Stairs make real easy work of most of the hills. This trail is extremely easy to hike, though some sections are so well finished that it doesn't really seem like hiking at all.

This trail is great to hike in winter, and you'll probably be able to hike every trail in the park in the span of three to four hours. Today we hiked the red, blue, and green loops between 9:05 and 11:25. Thanks to the fact that it is both winter and a weekday, the trail was totally empty except for maybe five other hikers and one dog. Not really isolated, you'll see some houses and the Parkway. Still a decent hike for someone looking for an easy trail to race along or those too lazy to make the trek to a less convenient park. The campgrounds are also very nice if you are looking for a quick overnight, but be careful you don't camp over when nearby PNC has a concert, because you'll be sharing the camp with a lot of people who go to the concert but don't want to pay extra for a hotel room or go home.

Cheesequake State Park: Cheesequake Cedar Swamp Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
200 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Day hike or overnight camping
Dawn to dusk
Cheesequake State Park
Local Contacts

Trail Log