Category Archives: pine barrens

State Parks Closed!? Beautiful alternatives for hiking in South Jersey!

So New Jersey has shut down its state parks until… well, we don’t know when (see the full list of closures ).  My only comment about this is “Ladies and gentlemen, your state government at work!”  And we’ll leave it at that.

The good news?  County, local, and private parks to the rescue!  Below is a sampling of parks and trails that are open for business as usual (note that this list is not definitive, just some of my favorites).  So shake your fists collectively in anger toward Trenton, then work out that anger by going for a beautiful hike this weekend anyway!

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Filed under Backpacking, Fishing, Hiking, Outdoors., pine barrens, South Jersey, Wildlife.

Penbryn WMA Paddle – Winslow, NJ

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Penbryn Wildlife Management Area Paddle – Winslow, Camden County, NJ
Distance: Aimless paddling on this good size lake racked up a mile of distance.
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: 1 of 10
Total score: 4 of 10

Note – You can also hike here, as previously covered

Website – Penbryn WMA
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – Lakeside

Boat ramp – 39°45’55.40″N,  74°56’10.49″W

Directions:  Penbryn Road, Winslow, NJ (Note – in my GPS, it comes up as Berlin.) It’s just before the railroad track.

Parking: Roadside parking.  If parking in the small pull off areas, be careful that you aren’t blocking the boat ramp.

Standouts – Nice views of the lake.  Nice marsh at the back.

Map – Large map can be found at Penbryn WMA

My track. Only did one side of the pond.

Description: A few weeks ago, my Scouts had their weekly meeting, this week on how to use a canoe.  Instead of practicing in a field, they decided to head to nearby Penbryn Lake to practice.

Well, sometimes you head out to teach the new Scouts how to paddle around a lake and stumble into a gorgeous sunset.

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But first, the proprieties must be observed.  There is a rough boat ramp (it drops off pretty quick) at the corner of the lake near to Penbryn Road.  From here, you can head out to explore the lake by canoe, kayak, or boat.  It’s not a huge lake, but its good for 45 minutes of exploring.  Bring your fishing rod, this is a popular local spot to fish.

Okay, now the sunset pictures.

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Thanks to NJ Monthly for including a version of this shot as their “Instagram Shot of the Week” in their weekly email newsletter!

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Best meeting of the year.

Overall – Not worth driving huge distance to get here, but its a pretty little lake to canoe around.  I’ve also hiked here (can do about a mile) and had a great time and The Pres’s very first time fishing was here too.  Pretty sunset not guaranteed.

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Filed under Canoeing, Fishing, Outdoors., pine barrens, South Jersey

Mill Pond Trail – Port Republic, NJ

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Mill Pond Trail – Port Republic Trail System  – Port Republic, Atlantic County, NJ
Distance – 1.9 miles total (does not include the cut through, nor the access trail to get to other parts of the wider trail system)
Type – Loop
Difficulty:  2 of 10
Total score: 7 of 10

Website – Port Republic Trail System (Facebook page, no website)
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.

Terrain – pine forest with a bit of swamp
Surface – dirt

Trailheads –  39°30’39.03″N,  74°30’15.30″W

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Six Pine Barrens Ghost Towns to explore!

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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…

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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.

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

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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!

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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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