Discover walking and biking trails in Mercer County Park

WWBPA Board Member Anne Clifton shares experiences from walks in the woods of Mercer County Park.

“How’d you like to go on a hiking adventure?” my husband asked after lunch on a Sunday afternoon. Thus began our foray into the woods of Mercer County Park. It’s a great place to get away without leaving West Windsor.

We started at the East Entrance with the Blue Trail, the primary route through the woods. It’s well marked, features sections for different abilities and ages, and takes you past the campground. 

You might try the whole 5-mile loop or head out for a while and then come back.You need not return the same way because you can choose the northern or southern side of this figure 8-shaped path while you’re near Mercer Lake. Staying to the north, you’ll walk mostly in the woods.  If you take the southern side, you’ll have a chance to walk along the edge of Mercer Lake. 

We enjoyed exploring and checking out different routes, looking for short cuts. 

For young families with children ages 5+, there’s an easy loop starting at the playground, walking along a stream and then into the woods for a return to the East Entrance parking lot and restrooms. This area is usually dry. 

For those looking for a longer hike or some privacy, the whole loop takes you past Caspersen Rowing Center and by some fields.  There are some ups and downs, textured terrain (tree roots, stones, sand, leaves) and a few downed trees to climb over.  You’ll walk around a large pond, some fields used for farming, and surprises like animal bones and, in the spring, daffodils.  On a particularly cold day, the wind-swept spray on Mercer Lake froze along the bank!

There are other ways to connect to sections of the Blue Trail. In addition to the East Entrance of the park, there is access from Conover Road, Bruntsfield Drive, and South Post Road (near the Caspersen Rowing Center). From Bruntsfield Drive, walk along the PSE&G right-of-way for a 1/10 of a mile to the trailhead and veer right along a narrow, cleared path into the woods. This is a more private path and good for the more adventurous. You’ll feel far away. 

Be aware that the Bruntsfield right-of-way is marshy and can be muddy depending on recent weather.  Along the way, you’ll pass two exits to Conover Road (sections without sidewalks).

Another option is to start at the Caspersen Rowing Center and walk along Mercer Lake in the opposite direction toward the East Entrance.

For the less adventurous, the park’s paved trail stretches 3.3 miles from the East Entrance parking lot to Hughes Drive. Providing a mix of shade and open sky, the path features access to tennis, ball fields, skating, exercise station, the 9-11 Memorial, marina, playgrounds, and the West Picnic Area. Part of this route borders Mercer Lake, where you can enjoy a snack and watch boaters. In warmer weather, enjoy the still-developing native wildflower meadow.

Some tips before you head out

Some areas are muddy, so consider wearing waterproof shoes or hiking boots. After a rain or if you venture off into the marshy areas, you may need a hiking pole or walking stick for balance.

Be alert for bicyclists.  It’s an ideal place to practice your mountain biking skills, too. You’re likely to encounter at least one person riding a bike when you’re out hiking.

Wear appropriate clothing and use insect repellant in the warmer months to ward off flies, mosquitoes, and ticks.

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