Batona Trail Backpacking – Day 4 – Brendan Byrne Campground to Ong’s Hat

The Batona Trail – Backpacking Day 4 – Brendan Byrne Campground, Brendan Byrne State Forest (or Lebanon State Forest for us old folk) to Ong’s Hat, NJ
Type: One way
Hours: Open 24 hours
Updated: July 30, 2023

Distance: End to end is 53 miles, plus side trips for campsites (our total was 57.2 miles). This is section 4 – Brendan Byrne Campground to the end of the trail at Ong’s Hat – 9 miles.
Section 1 – Bass River to Buttonwood
Section 2 – Buttonwood Campground to Lower Forge
Section 3- Lower Forge to Brendan Byrne
Difficulty: 8 of 10.

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

Trailheads – The day starts at Brendan Byrne Campground ( 39°52’20.65″N, 74°31’20.04″W) and ends at Ong’s Hat (39°54’40.21″N, 74°37’14.47″W)

Markings – Pink, usually on trees. Sometimes disappear or hard to follow, but much improved the last few years, especially this section.

Map of the Batona Trail
Trail Map for Brendan Byrne State Forest – all of our hiking today is on this map.

Description: Day 4 – the final day – of the Batona Trail,

The Plan:

I’ve been fortunate enough to backpack the whole Batona Trail four times (2011, 2013, 2016, and 2023), 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 3:
Brendan Byrne Campground to Ong’s Hat – 9 miles, although this might be short. I really can’t wait for the new map.

Last day on the trail! You’ll probably float down the trail this last day! You start with the 3/4 mile road walk back up to where we left the trail yesterday. Turn right and head into the woods. You’ll immediately pop out at Pakim Pond, which you’ll be walking around. Enjoy the lovely views.

Morning road walk from camp.
Morning road walk from camp.
Pakim Pond.
Pakim Pond.
Pakim Pond.
Pakim Pond looking at the picnic area across the pond where we had eaten our dinner the night before.
Pakim Pond looking at the picnic area across the pond where we had eaten our dinner the night before.
Pakim Pond.
Bog next to the pond.
Bog next to the pond.

After the pond, the trail will turn right. From here, it’s a little more than three miles to turn for the ranger station. You’ll follow along with the Cranberry Trail (red blazes), then the Batona turns left while the Cranberry Trail continues straight. The next section of trail is usually a little muddy, and boards have been placed down to help with that. Enjoy the small hills you’ll be climbing, as well as the more open forest than most of what you’ve seen so far.

The woods in Brendan Byrne have a different look about them.
The woods in Brendan Byrne have a different look about them.
Walking along the Batona/Cranberry Trails.
Walking along the Batona/Cranberry Trails.
Crossing boards with water coming up over the tops.
Crossing boards with water coming up over the tops.

After this section, it’s a short walk to the Lebanon Fire Tower.  Take a break here and climb as far up the fire tower as your dare.  The stairs are more spread out, which always made this fire tower scarier to climb than the one at Apple Pie Hill.

Approaching the Lebanon Fire Tower.

From the tower, it’s 0.8 of a mile to Route 70, you’re getting close to the end!  This is probably the hardest road crossing, so be careful.  0.9 more miles will bring you to Deep Hollow Road.  You’ll turn left on the road, pass the lovely Deep Hollow Pond, then cross the road to continue down the trail (the trail does NOT circle the pond!  Even through there is a worn path there!).

After Rt 70.
After Rt 70.
Along Deep Hollow Road.
Along Deep Hollow Road.
Deep Hollow Pond. After seeing this, don’t forget to turn right and cross the road to continue on the trail.
Deep Hollow Pond 2016- what the?

You’re on the home stretch now – 3.5 miles to go!  You’ll wind along the tops of some hills overlooking cedar swamps, cross over Deep Hollow Road again, wander through some interesting bits of trail, and cross Four Mile Road by the Rutgers Field Station.  This is your last paved road crossing!  The final stretch of trail seems to be the least used, as you meander through pine groves, take short stretches of dirt roads, use Turkey Buzzard Bridge Road to cross a swamp, and eventually emerge from the woods at Ong’s Hat at Magnolia Road.





Our first complete hike of the Batona, it poured rain for the last 1 1/2 miles of trail. The water was over our boots most of the time. Looking at the trail dry, I can see how the moss helped funnel the water into a stream running down the trail.
Doing the last stretch in the dark in 2016.

You did it!  You finished all 52.7 miles of trail!


I hope this trail guide inspires you to give part or all of the Batona a try!  It’s really an awesome experience to go end-to-end on it!

– No camping tonight, go enjoy your bed!

8 thoughts on “Batona Trail Backpacking – Day 4 – Brendan Byrne Campground to Ong’s Hat

    1. This section or for the whole Batona Trail?

      For the trail, I infinitely prefer to go South to North, because it leaves the shortest day being the last day (Brendan Bryne Campground to Ongs Hat).

      For this section, it’s probably more exciting to go the opposite way so that you end with the highlight of the section – Pakim Pond. It’s such a nice spot, one of the nicest on the whole trail!

      But really, every direction is a good direction 🙂

  1. My nephew and I will probably be hiking the Batona during the spring. I was hoping you could touch on food storage at the campgrounds since I haven’t been able to dig up anything. Are there bear boxes? I didn’t think bears were in this area, but after getting the state map, I noticed they mentioned bears on it.

    1. We always have the Scouts bear bag when we do it, but it’s really just for practice. I’d have zero concerns about bears at any of these campsites.

  2. Thanks for a great synopsis of the trail. I plan to hike NOBO than SOBO in August. NOBO I plan to stay at Buttonwood, Batona, and 2 nights at Brendan Byrne. Not sure about SOBO. I still have a month to train and determine what my trail legs will feel like.
    Thanks again.

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