Maritime Trail – Barnegat Lighthouse State Park – Barnegat Light, NJ (Ocean County)
Type: Loop trail
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset (Parking lot closes early and they will lock your car in. You can park just outside the entrance).
Distance: 0.2 miles. Not a typo, 0.2 miles.
But lots more to do in the park, like a mile out and back walk on the jetti (just under two miles total) and climbing the lighthouse
Difficulty: 1 of 10.
Total score: 8 of 10.
Updated: January 16, 2017
Terrain – Dunes and history.
Trailhead – Across from information center – 39°45’49.37″N, 74° 6’21.92″W
Dog friendly? No pets allowed
Stroller friendly? No – stairs and sand would make it really hard for any stroller
Benches? Not along trail, but are several at the trailhead.
Facilities?: Yes, full bathrooms at the Visitors Center.
Standouts: Great views of the beach, views of Barnegat Lighthouse, old anchor point for a radio tower, and more trees than you could imagine.
Markings – None, but fenced in, so you can’t get off the trail without really trying hard.
Description: This is probably the shortest trail I’ll ever post (2017 update – I’ve done one shorter in all this time since), liberally marked as 0.2 miles (it’s actually even shorter than that). Nevertheless, this trail is awesome. Being from New Jersey, I’ve seen and enjoyed pretty much every beach from Cape May to Sandy Hook. What makes this tiny area of state park different is that it’s the dunes preserved as they would have looked hundreds of years ago before the building boom. Scraggly trees create a dark, cool forest canopy on even the hottest summer days. You almost forget that you are in the dunes!
You also get views of the beach and Barnegat Inslet, glimpses of Barnegat Lighthouse towering over the trees and plants, and an anchor of a no-longer-exhistant radio tower. The hike takes fifteen minutes if you are really, really slow.
From our comments section –
“As the person who initiated and designed the trail (over lots of objections) It is nice to know that you enjoyed your walk and let other visitors know about it. It was a fun project to do. Amazing warblers in May and October. By the way, the foundation was the anchor for one of the cables that supported the towers for the cable tram system used to carry jetty stones across the inlet during the jetty construction, The was a wayside exhibit with an old photo.” ~ Bill Vibbert.
Thank you for making one of our favorite trails happen Bill!
Overall recommendation – One of my favorite trails in all of South Jersey. With the lighthouse and the jetti walk there, how can you NOT go?
Nearby – Don’t leave yet though! $3 will let you climb Barnegat Lighthouse, one of the tallest on the east coast. Take a walk down the concrete walkway and, if you are the adventurous sort, climb through the rails and walk/hop the jetti all the way out to the very end where the foghorn is. It’s a good mile walk/hop from the tower to the end of the jetti, leave plenty of time for hopping, admiring seagulls, looking for shells, admire the lighthouse, etc.