Category Archives: Hiking

Six Pine Barrens Ghost Towns to explore!

smithville04

South Jersey Trails is four years old!   In celebration, I highlight an area I’ve been blessed enough to spend the last 24 years exploring – the Pine Barrens.  I started with a post on the Best Hikes in the Pine Barrens.  But hiking isn’t what hooked me on the pine barrens all those years ago (and boy, what great hiking there is there), it was the history.

So when you think of ghost towns, you probably think like me: cowboys, swinging doors, tumbleweeds…

bodie

You know, this. (Note – Bodie State Park in California).

But the pine barrens have dozens of ghost towns of their own.  Sure, there weren’t many shootouts in the pine barrens (except Hampton Bogs that one time).  And they are definitely short on tumbleweeds.  But they all have their own, fascinating history.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Hiking, History, Outdoors., pine barrens, South Jersey

Best Hikes in the Pine Barrens

Featured Image -- 14769

So today marks FOUR YEARS of this ridiculous blog.  I’ll type that again for dramatic effect- FOUR YEARS.

Four is an important number for this blog, because, when I started, I figured that was about top end estimate for how many people would ever look that this big, dumb prestigious project of mine (and that was counting on my mother being able to find it on the Internet to see cute pictures of her grandson). But my, oh, my, how we’ve grown up.  In the past four years, nearly EIGHT PEOPLE have read this blog.

Okay, it’s a few more than that, and sometimes I worry about you folks because of that.  But thanks just the same for coming along for the ride.

In celebration, I highlight an area I’ve been blessed enough to spend the last 24 years exploring – the Pine Barrens.  Sure, the pine barrens aren’t as sexy as some natural areas in North Jersey.  You won’t find many clear flowing rivers (just iced tea colored), mama bears followed by lines of cubs, or breathtaking vistas.

Instead, it’s hundreds of square miles of pine trees, the more subtle beauty of a pitch pine, the reclaimed cranberry bog, the carnivorous plant, the nearly forgotten ruins of a once prosperous town.  It’s the wild flowers at Friendship, the collapsing packing house at Whitesbog, the abandoned tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the sweeping views from Apple Pie Hill.  It’s the cedar water of the Wading River, the iron slag along the trail at Martha, the cedar swamps at Wells Mills (oh, how I love cedar swamps), and the pine snakes by Bricksbrae.  It’s hearing coyotes howling while camping at Bodine, a dip in the river while backpacking through Lower Forge, watching the American Legion Post carry Emilio Carranza’s body from the woods yet another July day, the beautiful stars in winter above Goshen Pond, looking at the raccoon prints in the fireplace bricks at Buzbys General Store, or the peeping of the frogs in the Spring.

If you haven’t spent time here, or haven’t spent enough time here, or simply are looking for some places you haven’t explored, I’m offering a series of three posts on the pines, starting with ten fourteen trails to get you started (it was really hard to narrow them down)…

I have, of course, ranked them (for fighting with each other on the Internet’s sake), cutting down a list of 46 hikes I’ve done out in Jersey Devil country, but these are all winners!

Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Backpacking, Hiking, History, Outdoors., pine barrens, South Jersey

Red Trail – Parker Preserve – Chatsworth, NJ

One of the finest trails in South Jersey, we finally managed to hike this one a week and a half ago! We added our photos and descriptions onto this guest post by James, who had shared these with us back in 2014. If you’ve never been, go now. This second.

I love that The Pres is to the point where he can do longer hikes like this, very proud of him for doing this six miler!

South Jersey Trails

ppred56

Red Trail – Franklin Parker Preserve – Woodland Township (Chatsworth), Burlington County, NJ
Distance –  6 miles total (maybe a bit over since there is a short detour onto the Green Trail where beavers have flooded the trail that we missed and had to backtrack to)
Type – Loop
Difficulty:  4 of 10 – hills, flooding, wind, and cold.  Probably only a 3 if it was warmer.
Total score: 9 of 10
Updated: March 13, 2017

Note – This was initially a guest post by James.  Thanks James!  His beautiful shots are included together at the bottom of this post.

Website – Franklin Parker Preserve
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – hills, woods, swamps, bogs
Surface – Mostly sand.

Trailheads –  39°48’48.80″N,  39°48’48.80″N

View original post 1,381 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Hiking

12th Annual Lines on the Pines – March 12, 2017

linesonthepines1202

So, we had our first table at an event today, and it was our favorite event of the year – Lines on the Pines.  We love this event and try to go every year, so when we were invited by Kayak Karl of Pine Barrens Adventures to share his table at this great event (that we were already going to already), we couldn’t say no.

Hence, a whole day spent talking about hiking and backpacking with folks coming through one of the top three pine barrens events of the year, with some time to sneak out and spend all of money on pine barrens books (my New Jersey books are coming dangerously close to taking up an entire tall bookshelf).

Overall, over 100 tables, tons of stuff to do with the kids this year, two live animal tables, music, more history than you can shake a stick at, and tons of great people.

Special thank yous to Linda and Jim Stanton for doing such a great job organizing this event every year and to Karl for putting up with us!  Also a thank you to the lovely people at Jenkinson’s Aquarium and Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, who were super awesome to The Pres all day, who created an estimated 6 frog crafts and about 9 snake crafts.

Also also a thank you to everyone who reads the blog or keeps up with the Facebook page who stopped by to say hello to us!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Hiking, History, Outdoors., pine barrens, South Jersey

Taylor Wildlife Preserve – Cinnaminson, NJ

Completely redid the review of this wildlife preserve that shares space with the last farm remaining on the Delaware River between Camden and Trenton. The Pres and I did the whole loop (about 3 1/2 miles) now and not just the one trail, and aside for a bit of washed up trash, was pretty awesome. Birding, swamps, old foundations, the Delaware River… so much to see here.

South Jersey Trails

taylorheader

Taylor Wildlife Preserve – Cinnaminson, Burlington County, NJ
Distance: We did the loop and went 3.5 miles.  Official miles of trail has to be just above that.
Type: Loop
Difficulty: 4 of 10.
Total score: 7  of 10
Last updated: March 6, 2017 (complete overhaul now that we’ve walked the whole loop)

Website – Friends of Taylor Wildlife Preserve
Open – Sunrise to Sunset

Terrain – swamps, harbor, and Delaware River.

Trailheads –  40° 1’34.12″N,  74°59’5.50″W

taylortrailhead01 From the lot closer to the river

taylortrailhead02 From the lot just off of Broad Street.

taylortrailhead02b Trail visible behind the information kiosk near Broad Street.

View original post 1,911 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Hiking

Crow’s Woods Nature Preserve – Haddonfield, NJ

One of our favorite hikes, updated after coming here more than a dozen times (it’s easy to visit when you live five minutes away). Included pictures of the beaver we found swimming here and a link to our (only) youtube video, which happens to be a hike here complete with beaver footage.

South Jersey Trails

Let's go! Let’s go!

Crow’s Woods Nature Preserve – Haddonfield, Camden County, NJ
Distance: 1.5 miles of trails.  We did 1.2 of a mile largely  following the White Trail.
Type: Loop trail.
Difficulty: 2 of 10.
Total score: 6 of 10.
Updated: March 5, 2017

Terrain – hill, swamps, woods, creek.

Trailheads –  39°52’53.27″N,  75° 1’30.00″W

Trailhead. Trailhead.


View original post 776 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Hiking

Tall Pines State Preserve – Sewell, NJ

I’ve been back to Tall Pines State Preserve three or four times since I wrote this post, so I decided to update it and add more pictures. I’ve done all the trails here now (most of them several times), and this park only gets more awesome.

South Jersey Trails

tallpinesupdateheader1

Tall Pines State Preserve – Sewell, Gloucester County, NJ
Distance – about 4 miles of trails (no official measurements yet) – we did 2.6 miles (My second trip, did 4.3 miles with some backtracking)
Type – Web of trails
Difficulty:  2 of 10 – some small hills
Total score:  7 of 10
Updated: March 5, 2017

Website – Friends of Tall Pines State Preserve
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – Woods, fields, and some swampy areas

Trailheads –  39°46’50.91″N,  75° 8’23.12″W
39°46’47.57″N,  75° 8’20.17″W

tallpinestrailhead

View original post 1,985 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Hiking