Bass River State Forest – Bass River, Burlington County and Ocean County, NJ
Distance – 23 miles total (13 miles of which will be covered in this post)
Type – Various loops and out-and-backs
Difficulty: 2 of 10
Entrance fee – Memorial Day to Labor Day – $5 per car on a weekday ($10 out-of-state) and $10 on a weekend or holiday ($20 out-of-state) (2018 numbers). Free rest of the year.
Website – Bass River State Forest website
Open – 8 a.m. to dusk, camping areas open 24 hours.
Terrain – Woodlands, swamps
Surface – sand or cinders
39°37’27.32″N, 74°25’31.23″W (Red, Orange, Green, and Purple Trail). On the opposite side of the parking lot at the trailheads for the Blue and Yellow Trail. The Silver Trail and Brown Trail split off soon after the trails that leave the south side of the parking area.
39°37’28.96″N, 74°26’36.79″W – The Batona Trail south trailhead is here. The 7 mile stretch of the Batona Trail section found in Bass River State Forest is covered in our previous Batona Trail – Day 1 post.
The Ballanger Creek Habitat Enhancement Area on Route 9 (which falls within Bass River State Forest) and its 2 miles of trails will be covered in a separate post once we hike them!
Directions – 762 Stage Road, Bass River, NJ
Dog friendly? “Pets must be kept on a leash six (6) feet or less in length and under physical control of its handler at all times.”
Stroller friendly? No
Benches? Some scattered along the way
Facilities?: Bathrooms available at the picnic area and the ranger station
As Daddy Camp soldiered on, we headed for a place I hadn’t been in a while and had never documented for the blog – Bass River State Forest. The heat had gone down a bit from the nearly 100 degree weather earlier, but it was still quite toasty for our first trip here. We opted to hike the Nisky Trail (green blazed) and the Absegami Nature Trail (white blazed).
There are a lot more trails here for us to explore, and you can also go swimming in Lake Absegami in season or camp out here.
To hike still – CCC Trail – Orange (4 miles), Falkinburg Trail – Purple (3 miles), Joe’s Trail – Brown (0.65 miles), North Shore Trail – Blue (0.6 miles), Poppy Allen Trail – Yellow (3.1 miles), and the South Shore Trail – Red (0.6 miles)
The Red/Orange/Green/Purple Combined Approach Trails – roughly 0.4 miles
We parked at the large lot at the Recreation Area and set off on the trails that leave from the South side of the parking lot. From here, the Red, Orange, Green, and Purple trails all take off together from the parking lot.
After a short time, you’ll pass over a small road-sized trail (this is the white blazed Absegami Nature Trail and the yellow blazed Poppy Allen Trail, which leave this trail together to the left) and angle right to put yourself on the park road. The trail will be along the road for a few hundred feet until it crosses the bridge. It will then leave the right side of the road to become trail again (Note: this is where the brown blazed Joe’s Trail joins the trail network to the right, and the white blazed nature trail joins to the left. You don’t want either of those, stay on the Red/Orange/Green/Blue Trail).
The trail will then curve around and enter the grassy side of the park road next to the ranger station and by the entrance to the park. The trail will then hang right back into the woods, but soon cross the park road that goes along the south side of the lake to the campground on that side.
Just over this road, the first of the trails will split off, as the red blazed South Shore Trail will head right toward the south shore campground.
We stayed to the right on the Orange/Green/Purple trail. This trail crosses a power company cut, then crosses Stage Road before the trails finally start to branch off from each other.
Nisky Trail (Green Blazed) -1.7 miles
It was really hot the first day we came to hike here, so we opted for the reasonably distanced 1.7 mile Nisky Trail, which is green blazed. After using the combined approaches to get across Stage Road (see “The Red/Orange/Green/Purple Combined Approach Trails”).
Once across Stage Road, the Orange/Green/Purple trails continue on into a highlight of the park, a white pine forest planted by the Civilian Conservation Corp back in the 1930s (which may be cut down soon, as its blocking the views from the fire tower). It’s a beautiful stretch of forest that reminds me of the great western forests of the United States, and is so different from anything else you find in the pines. The Green Trail splits two ways here, we opted to go left on the split (Which makes the trail Green/Purple). The Orange Trail splits right at this same point, following the other part of the Green Trail. We’ll meet back up with that side later.
The Green/Purple Trail isn’t together much longer either, as the purple blazed Falkinburg Trail will split off to the left very soon, leaving us FINALLY on just the green blazed Nisky Trail that we’re supposed to be reviewing.
The now-by-itself green blazed Nisky Trail heads through a lovely patch of typical pine barrens forests, winding it’s way along until it turns right at the Garden State Parkway.
Once the trail turns right, it follows what is clearly an old sand road until it reaches a five way intersection, where it turns right (rejoining the orange blazed CCC Trail) to follow another old sand road.
As the trail nears the CCC white pine forest, it turns a slight right off of the road to meet back up where we had seen the split off earlier. You’ll now head back the way you came on the Green/Orange/Purple Trail.
Absegami Nature Trail (white blazed) – 0.4 miles
On our way back from hiking the green blazed Nisky Trail, we opted to take the Absegami Nature Trail as a detour. This trail is found a few hundred feet south of the main parking lot at the recreation area parking lot, and is a horseshoe between that trailhead and the other side of the bridge road. The full loop from the parking lot is probably around 3/4 of a mile.
We started on the far trailhead, which is located next to the road bridge, on our way back from the green trail. This trail is a pretty simple to follow, and goes through a beautiful cedar swamp (long time readers know we are total suckers for a good cedar swamp). There are informative nature signs along the way to help you (okay, to help us) with our plant identifications.
Soon after the boardwalk ends, you’ll turn left to stay on the white trail and join the yellow Poppy Allen Trail. The trail then ends very soon at the intersection with the Orange/Red/Blue/Purple.
That’s it for what we’ve done so far, but we have many to go – CCC Trail – Orange (4 miles), Falkinburg Trail – Purple (3 miles), Joe’s Trail – Brown (0.65 miles), North Shore Trail – Blue (0.6 miles), Poppy Allen Trail – Yellow (3.1 miles), and the South Shore Trail – Red (0.6 miles).
The 53 mile Batona Trail starts in Bass River State Forest.
Lots of options to hike, boardwalks through cedar swamps, white pine forest, with options for camping and swimming!
Ticks. I hate ticks. Also, trails can be a bit confusing in the bunched up areas near the recreation area parking lot.