A Walk Through Atsion – Shamong, NJ
Type: Out and Back
Hours: Always open
Distance: 1.0 miles round trip
Difficulty: 2 of 10.
Total score: 7 of 10.
Terrain – Flat.
Trailhead – 39° 44.526’N, 74° 43.548’W – Parking lot at the Atsion Ranger Station off of Route 206.
Markings – None.
Description: This is not an official trail, but it’s pretty easy to follow the route. Start at the parking lot at the Atsion Ranger Station (open Spring to Fall). Then go into the ranger station. This is the old company store of Atsion, and town that you are standing in, yet no longer exists.
Walk around the ranger station to check out the old Richards Mansion behind it. The Richards family ran an iron empire in the pine barrens for decades, and Atsion was one of their main holdings. You can tour the mansion one day a week during the season, it’s well worth going in.
After this, head down the dirt Quaker Bridge Road (in front of the mansion). Today, Rt 206 is the major highway, but in the 1800s it was Quaker Bridge Road that was well traveled. Hence, the mansion fronting it. If you followed this road down for four miles into the woods, you would hit Quaker Bridge. We’ll do that, but not in this post.
The stops come quick on this hike, one of the reasons it’s such a nice one to take. Your first one will be the old church on the right. It looks new (the front is fairly new, as is the wheelchair ramp), but its roots and the main part of the building are quite old. Take a look around through the graveyard, there are several veterans gravestones from the Civil War.
Getting back on the road, a few hundred feet up is the Atsion Schoolhouse. This served the local community well, and still serves vandels who break into it every few months. Be respectful, don’t go in, even if there is a giant hole in the boards.
You’ll then continue down the road until the railroad tracks intersect with it. At this point, turn right and follow the tracks through the swamp.
In less than 0.2 miles, you’ll come to the old railroad bridge. If you’re brave, you can walk across it. Be careful!
When you’re done, turn around and came back the way you came. When you reach the mansion, walk around to the back and check out the old concrete barn built by Joseph Wharton. You know, the guy they named the forest for. It’s then just a short stroll to your car.
Old mansion, old barn, old schoolhouse, old railroad bridge, old church and graveyard, and a paper mill
Bridge can be tricky to get across.