Batona Trail Reroute – Apple Pie Hill to Rt 72 – Parker Preserve – Woodland Township (aka, Chatsworth), Burlington County, NJ
Distance: 8.3 miles
Type: One way (out and back is 16.6 miles)
Difficulty: 3 of 10.
Terrain – pinelands, swamps, old cranberry bogs
Trailheads – Apple Pie Hill – 39° 48.442’N, 74° 35.365’W. Not 100% sure where the other one is on Rt 72, it’s tricky to find.
Directions: Apple Pie Hill – Drive NW from Chatsworth on Rt 532 (past the fire station). Pass Chatsworth Lake. 3/4 of a mile past Chatsworth Lake, turn left onto Ringling Rd (look for two small, falling apart brick platforms that flank the road). When the paved road curves left, stay straight onto the dirt road. Follow the road all the way back until you arrive at the base of Apple Pie Hill. DON’T drive up it, the parking lot has been blocked off. Park at the side of the road at the bottom of the hill and walk up to the firetower.
Markings – pink blazes
Map: Download PDF here
Description: As stated in my previous posts on the Batona Trail, this is my new favorite section of the Batona. This makes a GREAT longer day hike, as long as you stash a car on the far end. I’ve had the pleasure of doing this hike twice so far, once about a month after the ribbon cutting ceremony and once in 2013 while thru-hiking the whole Batona. This section is GORGEOUS, while being quite different from most pine barrens hikes.
You’ll start at Apple Pie Hill. Whether this is your first time or your 1,001st, climb the fire tower for the amazing views of the woods, with Philly and Atlantic City both viewable on a clear day.
Note: The Apple Pie Hill Fire Tower is CLOSED except when manned by a fire spotter! You still can access the tower, it is NOT completely closed off. However, you can only go up when the tower is actively being manned, which is during times of drought during the day.
To not be disappointed, visitors to the fire tower can call NJ Forest Fire Service Division B Headquarters to find out of the tower is manned. The number is (609) 726-9010.
When you’ve had enough views, it’s time to hit the trail. Find the gap in the fence near the gate that closes the road at the top of the hill and go through it. It will be roughly a mile to Rt 532. Not much scenic here, just your run-of-the-mill pine trees.
The trail will cross the road. Almost immediately, you’ll hit the newly rerouted section. Just follow the signs and you’ll be fine the next 7.2 miles.
The trail through the preserve passes through some swampy bits, along roads (sometimes flooded), and along the edge of bogs for the next several miles between Rt 532 and 563. Enjoy the walk through nature and beware of ticks.
This second part of the trail after crossing is my favorite. After crossing Route 563, there will be a long straightaway through decently swampy land. Then it’s more of everything – more bogs, more cranberry dikes, more wooden bridges. The trail camps off with a beautiful little swamp number, where boards go between tiny swamp islands as you thread your way through to Rt 72. This last bit of trail alone is worth the effort.
Once you emerge onto Route 72, you’ve made it! What a great hike (is what you’ll say). Now go back to find your first car at Apple Pie Hill!
Apple Pie Hill Firetower, old cranberry bogs, great portion of trail through the swamp
Apple Pie Hill firetower is now only able to be climbed when manned.
Looks like a great day! I’m planning on getting out Apple Pie Hill soon for some star photography.
Thanks! Great plan for Apple Pie Hill, I was out there last summer when there was a chance for the aurora, the skies were very clear (but sadly, no aurora borealus).
Best plans, A handful of times in the spring I hiked that section but the nights were too cloudy for stars.
From the photos that place looks completely stunning. Definitely going to add this of my list of hikes i have to do.
Hey George, sounds like a plan, it’s definitely worth the effort.
Thanks for all of the information. Do you have any better instructions for where to stash a car near 72?
Hey Sam, I’ve been trying to answer that question for a while, and I never come up with a good answer. Using Google Earth to help, I *think* the road that I stash my car at is either Sooy Place Road or Cedar Road, but I’m not sure which (they are less than 1/4 mile apart opposite Brendan Byrne Forest). If you are traveling south on Rt 72, they are the first two roads AFTER Rt 563, which leads to Chatsworth).
I have a bad habit of doing things by memory out in the pines, which is not very helpful when explaining to other folks. I’m going to post on my facebook group and see if anyone has GPS coordinates to help out!
Went to the experts (Thanks Rosemarie!) – “Near mile marker 4 on 72 just north of the Rt 563 turnoff To Chatsworth. Also look for Sooy Road”
Found the 72 entrance today. I couldn’t see a Sooy Rd sign at all. But you can easily see a Cedar Rd sign.
There is a clearing off 72 just west of Cedar Rd. You can park there and access the trail.
You cannot see any Batona signs from 72 like you can at some other entrances. Well maybe a passenger could see it, but the driver can’t going 55mph. Once you are outside your car, it is easy to see the sign for the trailhead.
so just to confirm, we have to take two cars and leave one at the end and bring the other to the beginning, correct?
To hike this hike as stated, yes, you would have to have a car at each end. You could do it as an out and back, but it would be a very long out and back.
Do you know the two distances in miles for the 532 to 563 leg and the 563 to 72 leg?
I am not sure about those two distances, as the map available at this time doesn’t include the reroute through those sections. I do know its pretty much exactly 7 miles from 532 to 572.
Just FYI… we walked south from 72 about 1.9mi to the water and turned around. Was out maybe 1hr 45mins, got back to the car, and were INFESTED with all sorts of ticks including 100’s of deer ticks.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
I almost feel like there should be a warning posted on the trail (even though I’m sure I would have ignored it anyways)
They have definitely scared me off the Batona, and we won’t be back until winter now!
Blech! Always a danger in the pines, but sorry that it had to happen to you!
I recently hiked a 5.2 mile portion of this out and back, by myself, and I can plainly see why this is number 1. I also found some plants in late December that had “blue” berries on them that I had never seen before. This is a place I want to share with everybody.
I only have an old Batona Trail map. How much mileage do this reroute and the Bass River one add? Do you have extra mileage for each? Thanks!
There is a mile added at Bass River and two at the Parker Preserve, although it’s a completely different 7 mile route through the Parker Preserve than on the old maps (which featured five miles of mostly road walk).