Tag Archives: Ocean County

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

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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Cloverdale Farm County Park – Barnegat, NJ

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Cloverdale Farm County Park – Barnegat Township, Ocean County, NJ
Distance – 1.5  miles of blazed trail
Type – Loop
Difficulty:  2 of 10
Total score: 8 of 10

Website – Ocean County Parks and Recreation
Open – 7 AM to dusk every day (Nature Center open on Fridays, Saturday, & Sundays only)

Terrain – bog and pines
Surface – mostly dirt

Trailheads –  39°45’31.67″N,  74°16’42.83″W (Next to bathrooms and parking lot) OR  39°45’24.04″N,  74°16’43.59″W (next to Nature Center, which is the official starting point).

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Trail starts to the right of the nature center.

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But NOT next to the pavilion.  It’s between the buildings and the bogs.

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2016 – Year in Review – 10 Favorite Trails

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In 2016, I hiked 32 new trails in South Jersey!  Why not take a look back at the highlights of an awesome year?

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

Cattus Island Park – Toms River, NJ

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Cattus Island Park – Toms River, Ocean County, NJ
Distance – 7 miles of trails, but getting to some will require backtracking, so distances covered will be longer than listed trail distances. (we did 4.5 miles total just doing the Blue and Orange trails and the road connecting them)
Type – Series of loop trails.
Difficulty: 1 of 10 (and should always be easy, just as long as you prepare for bugs and direct sunlight in the warmer months)
Total score: 10 of 10
Reviewed: 12/29/16

Website – Ocean County Parks
Facebook – Cattus Island Facebook
Open – Dawn to dusk.

Terrain – woodlands and swamps
Surface – various natural surfaces, plus packed dirt on the road.

Trailheads – 39°58’58.57″N, 74° 7’42.43″W (next to Nature Center)

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Edge of the parking lot.  A short walk up the road puts you at the trailheads.

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Jakes Branch Park – Beachwood, NJ

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Jake’s Branch Park – Beachwood, Ocean County, NJ
Distance – 8.6 miles of trails (incl a 2.6 mile bike trail).  We did just over 4 miles on the Blue and White Trails
Type – Loops
Difficulty:  3 of 10 – a few uphills, shorter pines leave you exposed to the sun in hot weather
Total score: 8 of 10

Website – Ocean County Parks page
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – Small hills (remains of ancient sand dunes), mature and new pine forest, and a bit of swampland

Trailheads –  39°55’45.61″N,  74°12’52.32″W
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Jetty Walk – Barnegat Light, NJ

 

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Jetty Walk – Barnegat Lighthouse State Park – Barnegat Light, Ocean County, NJ
Type: Out and back
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset (Parking lot closes early and they will lock your car in. You can park just outside the entrance).
Distance: About a mile out and back walk on the jetty (just under two miles total).
Difficulty: 5 of 10 – rock hopping, occasional slippery spots.
Total score: 8 of 10.
Updated: March 5, 2017

Terrain – Ocean and bay views all around.
Trailhead – starts at base of lighthouse-  39°45’51.83″N,  74° 6’22.08″W

Standouts: Great views of the beach, views of Barnegat Lighthouse, and views of ships coming in and out of the inlet.

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Filed under Fishing, Hiking, History, Outdoors., South Jersey