Tag Archives: Hiking

Best Hikes in the Pine Barrens

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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!

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Corson’s Inlet State Park – Ocean City, NJ

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Corson’s Inlet State Park – Ocean City, Cape May County, NJ
Distance –  Rail trail – 0.75 total out-and-back.  Yellow Trail – 0.25 miles one way.  Red Trail – 0.4 miles one way.  We did 2.4 miles total covering all three of these and a beach walk back from the Red to Yellow Trail.  Can also extend this beach walk around the tip of the island.
Type – Series of out-and-back trails that can be looped off with beach walks if you choose.
Difficulty:  2 of 10
Total score: 7 of 10

Website – Corsons Inlet State Park
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – beach and dunes
Surface – gravel (rail trail) or sand (Yellow or Red Trails)

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Trailheads –39°13’1.92″ N,  74°38’45.74″ W (Rail trail from parking lot)
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39°12’59.56″N,  74°38’46.87″W (Yellow Trail from parking lot)
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39°13’7.57″N,  74°38’20.26″W (Red Trail from end of Central Ave just past intersection with 59th Street)

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Eldora Nature Preserve – Delmont, NJ

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Eldora Nature Preserve – Delmont (Maurice River Township), Cumberland County, NJ
Distance –  2.8 miles of trails (official).  We did 3.0 miles of trails (with slight overlap).
Type – Series of loops.
Difficulty:  3 of 10
Total score: 5 of 10

Website – The Nature Conservancy
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – Woods, marsh, and a bit of swamp.
Surface – Mostly dirt.

Trailheads –  39°13’2.81″N,  74°55’18.94″W (at back of parking lot)

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Cape May Point State Park – Cape May, NJ

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Cape May Point State Park – Cape May, Cape May County, NJ
Distance – 3.2 miles of trail total
Type – Series of loops
Difficulty:  2 of 10
Total score: 9 of 10

Updated – March 3, 2017

Website – Cape May Point State Park
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – Mostly tidal marshlands with small patches of forest
Surface – boardwalks and dirt

Trailheads –  38°55’59.64″N,  74°57’30.34″W or
38°55’57.43″N,  38°55’57.43″N or
38°55’55.04″N,  74°57’32.34″W

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John’s Woods Preserve and Weymouth County Park – Mays Landing, NJ

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John’s Woods Preserve and Weymouth County Park – ,  County, NJ
Distance –  2.5 miles total (not including wandering around Weymouth Furnace)
Type – Out and back with a branch down to the river.
Difficulty:  4 of 10 – trail not well marked, sometimes all but disappears.
Total score: 5 of 10

If you are looking for information on canoeing the Great Egg Harbor River from Weymouth, check here

Website – Atlantic County Parks
Open – 7:30 AM to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Terrain – woods with some wetlands
Surface – dirt and sand

Trailheads:
Weymouth – no hiking trails
John’s Woods –  39°31’3.69″N,  74°46’47.96″W

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Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve – Egg Harbor Township, NJ

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Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve – Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance –  6 miles of trails total (we saw most of the preserve with a hike of 3 1/4 miles)
Type – Web of trails
Difficulty:  3 of 10
Total score: 8 of 10

Website – https://sites.google.com/site/ehtnatres/
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – forest, marsh, lakeside sand.
Surface – mostly dirt surfaces

Trailheads –  39°21’32.48″N,  74°39’4.46″W (parking lot on Zion Road)
39°21’41.77″N,  74°39’21.16″W (parking lot by nature center)

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Lochiel Creek County Park – Barnegat, NJ

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Lochiel Creek County Park – Barnegat, Ocean County, NJ
Distance – 2.3 miles total including the cut through and the plus access trail to the Barnegat Rail Trail
Type – Loop
Difficulty: 1  of 10
Total score: 4 of 10

Website – Lochiel Creek County Park
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – pinelands and swamp
Surface – dirt

Trailheads –  39°46’18.46″N,  74°13’7.51″W
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