Township offers numerous dog-friendly areas

Run, jump, walk and play in numerous dog-friendly areas in Medford Township.

According to Beth Portocalis, Medford Township staffer, Medford Park along the Rancocas Creek is an ideal walking area. There are no paved trails, but the trails are naturally carved out from people who frequent the area.

“It’s a good place for them to get a drink and take a walk,” Portocalis said. “A lot of people walk there and fish there. Dogs can play and get in and out of the water, too.”

The area in Tomlinson Park, across the street from the Pinelands Branch Library, offers a large, grassy area for your dog, on its leash, close to the water.

Hartford Crossing Park, Medford Leas and the Medford Canoe trail all offer options for you and your pup to explore and swim, if you so choose. Not far from Medford Park is the off-leash dog park within Freedom Park. There are bags available to clean up after dogs, an off-leash area, an agility area and a creek for swimming.

Currently, the park is being managed by Freedom Barks, a non-profit organization volunteering to clean up the off-leash area in Medford. According to Portocalis, the township is working on an agreement with Freedom Barks, where the organization would voluntarily take over the park.

“The agreement is going to allow them to fundraise to do improvements at the park,” Portocalis said. “It’s neat the people in the dog parks come together to use and take care of the park.”

“We finally managed to get the township to recognize us,” said Jim Wert, a volunteer with Freedom Barks
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According to Wert, the township provided $500 to keep the parking lot clean, the park clean, trash removal, bridge reparation and general upkeep. Additionally, the benches will eventually need to be replaced.

“The township provides the disposable bags, but they load the bag machines up. We’ll also clear some trees out of the way,” Wert said. “We’re going to try to get some fundraisers eventually.”

According to Wert, Freedom Barks is always looking for volunteers. The next meeting is slated for late August.

According to Wert, anywhere from 300–400 people visit the park weekly, occasionally busier on the weekends.

“It’s probably one of the nicest parks in the state as far as dog-friendly and clean,” Wert said. “Most of the dogs are in control, and people keep them in control, as long as the people that own the dogs take responsibility. If you want to volunteer, we always need a helping hand. It’s a fun place.”

According to Portocalis, dogs are welcomed throughout the township, but she requests owners remain prudent of township-owned fields.

“What we find is that people will go to the park and lock up the dogs and let them run loose on the field. A lot of them aren’t diligent about cleaning up the park,” Portocalis said, adding dog urine ruins the fields. “Dogs are welcome on leashes during games. It’s OK for tournaments; they can’t run on the actual playing field.”

Portocalis urges residents to check out Freedom Park for the trails and off-leash area, as well.

To learn more about Freedom Barks, visit www.facebook.com/FreedomBarks. To learn more about the recreation areas in Medford, visit www.medfordtownship.com/recreation.php.