1

The Batona Trail – Backpacking Day 2 – Buttonwood Campground to Lower Forge Campground, Wharton State Forest, NJ
Type: One way
Hours: Open 24 hours
Last updated: July 25, 2017

NOTICE: This stretch of trail was hit by a 3,500 acre fire in July 2017, including part of the Batona.  It has been closed for a little less than a week so far, although it should be open again relatively soon.  However, it’s unlikely that the the Batona blazes will be fixed before Labor Day 2017.

Distance: End to end is 52.7 miles, plus side trips for campsites (our total was 57.2 miles). This is section 2 – Buttonwood Campground to Lower Forge Campground, with a side trip into Batsto to pick up permits. – 12.0 miles
Look here for:
Section 1 – Bass River to Buttonwood
Section 3 – Lower Forge to Brendan Byrne
Section 4- Brendan Byrne to Ongs Hat
Difficulty: 8 of 10.

Terrain – Pine forests, cedar swamps, open areas, dirt roads, rivers, swamps.

Trailheads – This day starts at Buttonwood Campground ( 39°37’43.59″N, 74°37’4.35″W) and ends at Lower Forge Campground ( 39°43’33.23″N,  74°40’23.90″W).

Markings – Pink, usually on trees. Sometimes disappear or hard to follow, but much improved the last few years thanks to the hard work of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey.

Description: Day 2 of the Batona Trail…

The Plan:

I’ve been fortunate enough to backpack the whole Batona Trail three times (2011, 2013, and 2016), as well as to have done a few one night trips on it previous to those years. Each time was as an adult with a group of Scouts (five of whom finished in 2011, 13 of whom finished in 2013, and 2 who did the whole thing in 2 days in 2016). I’ll present here our 2013 hike plan, which covered the two new reroutes. If you plan to do the whole thing, you might be faster (2 or 3 days for some folks) or slower (you can space it out over 5 days if you wanted to), but this plan is for four days.

DAY 2:
Buttonwood Campground to Lower Forge Campground (with a side trip to Batsto) – 12 miles

Day 2! You get up, feel really sore, and call for a ride home… no! Don’t worry! Today will be the second easiest day of the trail, only twelve miles!

IMG_8895

The first part is to head right back the way you came, one mile out of Buttonwood Campground, back to the Batona Trail. This road doesn’t look like it’s maintained anymore, so expect lots of mud puddles to walk around.

Walk out of Buttonwood. I don't think they are maintaining this road much anymore.

Walk out of Buttonwood. I don’t think they are maintaining this road much anymore.




When you get back to the trail, turn left to head north. It’s 3.2 short miles from the camp turnoff until the turnoff for Batsto. You’ll cross a few roads, walk across the Washington Pike, go up and down some small hills, and eventually see the huge fields of Batsto ahead to your left.

On the way to Batsto.

On the way to Batsto.

Batona.

Batona.

Crossing a road.

Crossing a road.

Firetower in the background.

Firetower in the background.

Intrepid backpacker.

Intrepid backpacker.

Getting close to Batsto.

Getting close to Batsto.

Resist temptation to walk up the road to Batsto, you’re only take a few dozen feet off the trail. Continuing up the trail a few hundred more feet, you’ll see a sign and a path to the left.

Turn off for Batsto.

Turn off for Batsto.

Take the left here and you’ll emerge in the picnic area at Batsto, cross the parking lot, and end up in front of the Visitor’s Center. Congrats, you’ve gone 1/3 of the distance for the day!

Walk into Batsto.

Walk into Batsto.



Crossing the parking lot.

Crossing the parking lot.

Dan poses by his Eagle Project - tree planting at Batsto.

Dan poses by his Eagle Project – tree planting at Batsto.

Drying out gear after a nigh of rain.

Drying out gear after a night of rain.

Batsto Visitors Center - camping permits inside.

Batsto Visitors Center – camping permits inside.

While at Batsto, you have to pick up your camping permits. I also suggest grabbing a penny stick or two and dropping your pack for a tour of the complex (especially if you haven’t been here before). This is an old bog iron town turned glass town turned summer home for Joseph Wharton (who has the Wharton School of Business at Penn named after him) turned lovely state park. Take a look around and check out the workers homes, the blacksmith shop, barn, and the mansion.

Batsto Mansion.

Batsto Mansion.

At some point, you’ll have to tear yourself away from Batsto and get walking again. Head back the way you came and turn left to continue on the Batona. Your next landmark is Quaker Bridge, 6.1 miles away. You’ll parallel (but not see) Batsto Lake for a while as the Batona shared the way with the Batsto Lake Trail. Eventually, the other trail will turn left as the Batona continues up and down a few more small hills, goes through some swampland, and meets up with the Batsto River. This is where we usually stop for a lunch break, as it’s such a nice spot (maybe 2-3 miles outside Batsto).

Umm... Lebanon State Forest?

Umm… Lebanon State Forest?  I hear these signs are due for replacement soon, so enjoy the time warp while you can!

IMG_8954
IMG_8961
IMG_8964

Wading at lunch.

Wading at lunch.



After lunch, you’ll walk the long way around a stream to cross over at a bridge (the old map had this marked as a hilariously short distance), then walk mostly between Goodwater Road and the river until emerging onto Goodwater Road and the five way intersection at Quaker Bridge. Turn left toward the river and check the bridge out, it’s a great place for a short break.

IMG_8983

Crossing the bridge.

Crossing the bridge.

IMG_9015 IMG_9020

IMG_1303

IMG_1308

Quaker Bridge.  The best part of this picture is that the gentlemen on the right has a broken bone in his foot and a torn ligament, damage done the day before.  Don’t worry, he’ll finish the trail.

This was the halfway point before the reroutes! Now it's just a little short of the mark.

This was the halfway point before the reroutes! Now it’s just a little short of the mark.

Get back onto the trail and head into the woods. It’s a 1.2 mile walk through the pine trees to the turnoff for Lower Forge Campground. Eventually, the trail will turn right, but you’ll go straight. Just follow the sign (straight, straight, and more straight) into Lower Forge Campground.

Between Quaker Bridge and Lower Forge.

Between Quaker Bridge and Lower Forge.  As of 2016, the trail has been put around this tree.

No cars coming in... hooray!

No cars coming in… hooray!

Once you hit Lower Forge, you’re done for the day!  For those looking to push on, Batona Campground is about 6 miles up the trail.

– Lower Forge Campground, Wharton State Forest – 9.5 trail miles from Buttonwood’s turnoff (Trail mile 25 on paper, about 26 with the reroute). This camp is great (my favorite on the Batona) – walk in only (no cars!), quietly sits on the Batsto River, miles and miles and miles from any paved road. There is supposedly a spring, but I’ve never managed to find it, but you can filter out of the river that’s right in camp. There is a pit toilet here. Most isolated campsite on the trail. You can even swim if it’s nice! $3 per person per night, plus registration fee. Next non-filtered water is six miles or so away at Batona Camp.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Swimming at camp.

Swimming at camp.

River at the campsite.

River at the campsite.

Sunset.

Sunset.

batona2day36

Nighttime fire in 2016.

The Good

Forests, cedar swamps, Batsto, Quaker Bridge.

The Could Be Better

Walking out of Buttonwood in the morning is not fun.

Ratings
Mike's Review
Your Reviews
Rate Here
Rating
10
Bottom Line

Beautiful stretch of trail, you can't go wrong with this day on the Batona.

10
Mike's Review
Your Reviews
You have rated this
About The Author
southjerseytrails
  • April 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Looks like you guys had a really fun time. The Batona is on my bucket list! I can’t believe you completed it twice! Question though… How cold was the water? Hahaha!

Leave a Response

Rating