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Updated: December 8, 2018

At 52.7 miles, the Batona Trail is South Jersey’s premier (also, only) long distance backpacking trail.  This trail can be backpacked in 2, 3, 4, or 5 days, which means at some point, you’re going to have to camp.  Dispersed, or “cowboy camping”, where you can set your tent up any old place along the side of the trail is expressly forbidden in all three state parks and the privately owned Parker Preserve.  So where can you camp along the Batona?

You have five options – Godfrey Bridge Campground, Buttonwood Hill Camp, Lower Forge Campground, or Batona Campground, each in Wharton State Forest, or Brendan Bryne Campground in Brendan Bryne State Forest.  They can all be booked via www.camping.nj.gov.  All campsites must be reserved in advance, as there is no “pay when you get there” system in any of the parks.

We’ll cover them all, going from South to North, starting with…

Godfrey Bridge Campground

? trail miles from the Bass River Trailhead
? trail miles from the next campground at Buttonwood Campground (? miles from end at Ongs Hat)

There is now a marked side trail to Godfrey Bridge Campground.  It’s about a mile from the turnoff to the back end of that campground.  Haven’t hiked this stretch since it was put in, it’s high up on my exploring list.

The campground has no flush toilets, but does have a pit toilet (think outhouse).

Buttonwood Hill Camp

15.7 trail miles from the Bass River Trailhead
10.3 trail miles from the next campground at Lower Forge (37 miles from end at Ongs Hat)

Note that, once you reach the turnoff from the Batona for this one, you’ll still have just over a mile to walk down the side trail to the campsite.  It usually seems like the longest mile of your life.

What you’ll find at the end is five campsites.  Each has a limit of two tents or six people.  The sites each come equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table.

The campground has no flush toilets, but does have a pit toilet (think outhouse).

Most importantly, there is no water pump available here.  I’ve been told that was is available across the road at Crowley’s Landing in the bathrooms, but despite camping here half a dozen times, I’ve never once been there when those bathrooms are open.  So your only water source is across the street at Crowley’s Landing by taking it from the Mullica River.  ALWAYS filter or treat water before drinking.

The other downside of this campground is that it’s right on the road, so the noise all night (especially trucks) is loud.  You’ll probably be so tired from backpacking that you won’t notice though.




Click here for my full review of Buttonwood Hill Camp.

Lower Forge Camp

10.3 miles from Buttonwood Hill Camp (26 miles from the start at Bass River)
5.8 miles from next campground at Batona Camp (31.2 miles from the end at Ongs Hat)

What you’ll find at Lower Forge (about 1/2 of a mile walk in from the trail) are 9 bare bones campsites featuring a fire pit, a clearing for your tent, and nothing else at all.  Two tents or six people are allowed in each site.  Like Buttonwood, there are no flush toilets here, but there is a pit toilet.  There aren’t any  water pumps either, but the Batsto River runs right along the edge of camp, which you can filter or treat to drink.

What you do get here is peace and quiet at almost the exact middle of the Batona, as this campsite is walk-in only, and far away from any paved roads.

Batona Campground

5.8 miles from the last campground at Lower Forge (31.8 miles from the start at Bass River)
12.9 miles from the next campground at Brendan Bryne Campground  (20.9 miles from the end at Ongs Hat)

Batona Camp is a real treat, starting with the distance off of the trailhead… 0 feet (the trail is right along the edge of it).  There are 12 individual and 1 group site here.  The individual sites hold up to 2 tents or 6 people.  The group site holds up to 15 people.  Each site has a fire ring, but there are no picnic tables.  There are no flush toilets here either, but this site has a pit toilet.

What is nice is that this site DOES have a water pump, and right on the trail at that.  Even if you don’t stay here, fill up your bottles and feel the joy of not having to treat your water before you drink it!

Click here for our full review of this campground.

Brendan Bryne Campground



12.9 miles from the last campground at Batona Camp (44.7 miles from the start at Bass River)
No more campgrounds after this!  8 miles from the end at Ongs Hat

Last chance to sleep!  And what a chance it is… 82 tent (or camper) sites!  Each one fits two tents or six campers.  Each one has a fire ring and a picnic table.  There are also three group sites for up to 30 people each.  These sites are a little ways off the trail (you’ll be walking down a paved park road) from when it emerges at Pakim Pond, with the distance depending on which campsite you book.

There are water pumps available here (or you can filter from the pond if you just can’t stop drinking treated water at this point), as well as FLUSH TOILETS and SHOWERS!  It’s the only campground on the Batona Trail with luxury like that!  If you really want luxury, you can even rent a cabin here and leave the backpacking tent or hammock away.

Click here for our full campsite review.

 

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  • Zechariah Rogers
    October 28, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    You could also do it without stopping. Might take about 20 hours but it could be done.

    • southjerseytrails
      November 1, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      They have a run every November where folks do the whole thing in one day! Saw them 30 miles in one year, they were still going strong.

  • Tim
    November 1, 2018 at 11:40 am

    I stayed at Batona Camp in the summer. We were “moto-camping” off of our dual sport motorcycles. Since this was a spur of the moment trip & not knowing the rules we packed up & stopped at Atsion Ranger Station to attempt getting a site. We were able to procure a site at the Ranger Station, but i think the Administration Fee cost more that the 2 night site fee! Regardless, the experience was priceless as it was the 1st time I’ve been tent camping in over 20 years & I shared the weekend with my 30+ year best friend! Another highlight of the weekend was the coyotes! Both nights, around 11 pm the howls would start & I laid in amazement at natures chorus! Truly an unforgettable experience.

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