The Woods at New Gretna/Jersey Shore Live Steam Organization – New Gretna (Bass River Twp), Burlington County, NJ
Distance – about 4 miles total (came from an article in the Pine Barrens Tribune), we did 1.2 miles around most of the perimeter.
Type – Connected loops
Difficulty: 1 of 10
Website – Facebook page (good to check, as they post whether the railroad will be open on any given Saturday)
Open – Park is open sunrise to sunset. Train seems to open on Saturdays in good weather, check out their Facebook to find out if they’ll have volunteers there on a particular Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM.
Terrain – Woods
Surface – Sand
Trailheads – 39°35’35.97″N, 74°27’24.82″W (right at the train station). There is another trailhead with a spot for a car or two along Route 9, but I didn’t get the coordinates for that one.
Directions – 11 Oak Avenue, Bass River, New Jersey 08224
Parking – Lot off Oak Ave, a few parking spaces off of Route 9 at a separate trailhead
So, we went to the 1st Annual South Jersey History Fair back the beginning of June (it was awesome, you should go next year), where we learned that there’s a 1/8 scale model steam powered railroad in South Jersey that you can ride on the top of the cars. THERE’S A 1/8 SCALE MODEL STEAM POWERED RAILROAD IN SOUTH JERSEY THAT YOU CAN RIDE ON TOP OF THE CARS!!!! Also, there are nature trails.
So as soon as we could get a Saturday free after the new baby (The Big Fella) came, The Pres, Tree Rider, Kite Flyer, and I took the ride across South Jersey to hike the nature trails. But we rode the train first, because I’m not a monster.
The kids might have even been more excited than I was (Kite Flyer kept yelling “Choo choo!” on the car ride down). You do have to fill out a membership application to join the Jersey Shore Live Steam Organization to ride (thanks lawyers) and you should really drop a donation in the jar (bring some cash) and then…
The tracks are far from complete, mostly because the crew running this have a hugely ambitious plan, but there’s an awesome loop that the train went around twice. Close to the station are some model buildings, and there are pavilions scattered throughout the ride which are “Stations”, each one labeled with an actual town name from the real Tuckerton Railroad. But enough of that, WE HAVE A TRAIN TO RIDE!
That’s it for picture, because I was too busy RIDING A 1/8 SCALE STEAM TRAIN to take a lot of pictures, but the train was a hit with all four of us.
When we got back, it was time to grab our water bottles and explore the rest of the park on foot.
We attempted to walk to the back of the Preserve first, but got ourselves turned around and ended up by the fence by the recycling center (which was good because we could then easily see where we were on the map).
Once we figured out where we were, we opted to follow the trails around the outside of the preserve (the white on the trail map) all the way around until we reached the train tracks and the birding trails (blue on the map). The kids were a little bummed out to be walking after originally being able to ride in style, but they perked up pretty quick when we started to hit blueberry bushes. What’s better on a hike than a snack that you don’t have to carry?
Once we started hitting the “stations”, we knew we were near the train loop, and we soon came across the tracks. We crossed them onto the bird watching trails, but didn’t manage to spot any birds.
Having gotten a pretty good feel for the trains, we found our way back to the station via the tracks. We were just in time to see the next lucky riders, who seemed as thrilled as we had been.
We then made our way back to the car and on to the next adventure – the Tuckerton Seaport (with nature trail, of course)!
Best of all, they have plans to continually make this better – more tracks, an expanded environmental education effort, and maybe even elevated walkways for bird watching. We’ll be back. Oh yes, we will be back.
And in trails we haven’t posted about yet, there’s the Ballanger Reclamation Area trails that are part of Bass River State Forest as well as the nearby Tuckerton Seaport, which is awesome to visit (and makes sense right after this for their exhibit on the Tuckerton Railroad) and also has a nature trail.
THERE'S A 1/8 SCALE MODEL STEAM POWERED RAILROAD IN SOUTH JERSEY THAT YOU CAN RIDE ON TOP OF THE CARS!!!! Also, blueberries, birds, lots of pine trees.
The nature here is pretty typical pine barrens. This isn't a negative for me, but it might be for some folks. Plus THERE'S A 1/8 SCALE MODEL STEAM POWERED RAILROAD IN SOUTH JERSEY THAT YOU CAN RIDE ON TOP OF THE CARS!!!!