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.