Barclay Farm Trails are an interconnected system of trails totaling three-quarters of a mile located on a National Register of Historic Places designated eighteenth century farmstead that is now Cherry Hill Township Open Space land.
Designated in 2011
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in the NRT Database
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The network of three trails winds through different natural habitats including wetlands, riparian, pond and mature forest. Wetland and riparian habitats are important habitat types in short supply in the state of New Jersey as highlighted by the state’s Wildlife Action Plan.
The New Jersey Audubon selected the Barclay Farm area as one of the stops on their state-wide Birding and Wildlife Viewing Trails. Signs indicating this recognition are posted at Barclay Farm trailheads.
The Barclay property is also the terminus of the 15-stop Cooper River Historic Trail. This trail highlights historic properties along Cooper River. Starting at the Cooper Mansion in Camden it ends 12 miles later at Barclay Farmstead. These designations help to show the significance of this property and the location for Barclay Farmstead’s trails.
Barclay Farmstead Trail signs start at the street entrance to the property. An arrow on the sign points toward the parking lot where a second directional arrowed sign points to the trailhead. The network of three trails includes a handicapped trail, hiking trail and a nature trail. The handicapped trail features a stone surfaced .16 mile trail that largely overlaps the beginning of the nature trail.
The hiking trail begins at one end of the ADA Accessible trail in a mature forest, passes through a nature forest, and follows the North Branch of the Cooper River until it links with the nature trail midway along its length. Of the three trails, one is designated as the Barclay Farm Nature Trail. Snaking through mature forest past a pond, wetland and the North Branch of the Cooper River, it features ten stops marked by wooden posts and brown aluminum signs showing a nature sticker and numbers one through ten.
Barclay Farm Trails provides the opportunity for community public service. Three Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout candidates completed their Eagle Scout Project while improving the trails at this location. One project improved the surface and construction of the handicapped trail and updated the main trail map board located at the Barclay Farm Trailhead. Two other projects installed raised walkways in the riparian habitat portion of the Barclay Nature Trail to promote nature trail use during wet periods.
Cherry Hill Township’s Cherry Hill Environmental Advisory Committee coordinates the township’s activities for National Public Lands Day (NPLD). Barclay Farm Trails was the location for this public service event in 2007 and 2008. Trail surface improvements were made each time. In 2007 woodchips were added to the surface of the handicapped trail. Since there decay necessitation regular reapplication, it was decided to surface the handicap trail with stone. This was a key feature of Cherry Hill’s 2008 NPLD event at Barclay. CHEAC installed erosion control devices on one section of the nature trail to stabilize the trail surface and halt erosion into riparian habitat. Improvements to trails occur regularly.
Trail maintenance is performed by with a mix of Cherry Hill DPW, CHEAC, and others volunteers. DPW loans tools and delivers bulk material like stone. CHEAC performs and keeps track of trail maintenance needs, installs signage, coordinates volunteer trail community service with the Cherry Hill Recreation Department. Improvements to trails occur regularly.
Barclay Trail promotion is accomplished with CHEAC taking the lead in outreach product development. CHEAC developed the Barclay Nature Trail Guide and prepared a document that illustrates the trail layout, description, location, and key features. After review and approval by the Recreation Department and Mayor’s Office, it was posted on the Cherry Hill website by the Cherry Hill IT Department. CHEAC promotes trails at community events including the Cherry Hill Fall Festival and the Cherry Hill Earth Day celebration at Croft Farm. Barclay Farm Trails and other Cherry Hill trails are promoted at these events to connect people with nature, increase support for Open Space lands, and to highlight outdoor recreational opportunities in the community.
Built in 1816 by a Quaker farmer, Joseph Thorn, the farmhouse and surrounding 32-acre property offers visitors an opportunity to observe and participate in the agrarian lifestyle that once dominated the South Jersey landscape. Now listed on the National & New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, the Barclay Farmstead is owned and operated by Cherry Hill Township.
In 1826, Joseph W. Cooper, a sixth-generation descendant of the founder of Camden and the owner of Camden’s Cooper Ferry, acquired the 168-acre property as a retreat to escape the city’s hot summer days. Eventually, “Chestnut Grove Farm,” as it came to be known, was passed along to Joseph Cooper’s great-granddaughter, Helen Champion Barclay.
Today visitors can step back to 1816 to tour the house as well as a reconstructed tool shed, a corn crib, springhouse, kitchen garden, an orchard, and community garden plots.
Cherry Hill Township 820 Mercer Street, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 Phone: (856) 488-7868 Website: http://www.cherryhill-nj.com/