Nestled among the trees and along the lakesides of six New Jersey state parks and forests are rustic cabins where you can disconnect from the humdrum of everyday living and reconnect with family, friends and nature—indoor plumbing included.
The cabins, most built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, come with bathrooms, kitchens, woodstoves or fireplaces, bunk or single beds, screened porches, fire rings and picnic tables. Family cabins accommodate four ($55 per night for New Jersey residents), six ($75) or eight ($100) people; group cabins range from 12 to 30 people. Some cabins are wheelchair accessible. Pets and alcohol are prohibited.
The cabins are usually booked solid Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, but most stay open through October 31, and a few into the winter months. Odds are you can still snag a front-row seat for the fall foliage show. This roundup looks ahead to the fall and the seasonal activites in and around many of the parks.
Bass River State Forest, Tuckerton
(Burlington and Ocean counties)
April 1-October 31
The Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps not only built the six cabins on Lake Absegami—they created the 67-acre lake and much of the forest. The six-person cabins have a living room with fireplace and a bunk bed; two small bunk rooms, and a bathroom. Kitchens are dated but sufficient; bathrooms have showers. All have screened-in porch and picnic tables, fire rings and access to a grill. Sites are near the self-guided, half-mile Absegami Trail, which runs through a wetland forest with Atlantic white cedars mixed with red maple and magnolia—a striking palette in the fall. The trail and most others here are flat, and several are less than a mile. Cranberry Harvest tours are offered throughout October; the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival the third weekend in October is the season’s big bash.
Belleplain State Forest, Woodbine
(Cape May and Cumberland counties)
Cabin open year-round
There’s just one cabin here, but it’s the largest group cabin in the system. East Creek Cabin overlooks a pond and accommodates up to 30 people ($175 a night with a two night minimum). The cabin features a furnished living room with fireplace, full kitchen, and two bunk rooms with their own full baths. Outside, there are fire rings, a picnic grove, boat dock and ballfield. The highlight of the park’s fall activities is Trick or Treat Weekend.
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, New Lisbon
(Burlington and Ocean counties)
March 30-January 31
Three cabins ring Pakim Pond in the park’s Cedar Swamp Natural Area. All cabins accommodate four and have a furnished living room with fireplace, two bunk beds, kitchen and half bath; showers are available at the campground. Byrne has more than 25 miles of trails for every kind of hiker, including the wheelchair-accessible Cranberry Trail. The historic Whitesbog Village, once a hotbed of blueberry and cranberry production, is located within the park and offers tours of its remaining 3,000-acre cranberry farm.
High Point State Park, Sussex
May 15-October 15
High Point’s two six-person cabins are located beside Steenykill Lake in the thick of prime foliage territory. They’re on a site originally laid out for a dozen more cabins, so you’ve got a whole section of forest to yourself. The rustic cabins include a living room with woodstove, three bedrooms (one with a double bed, two with twin beds), kitchen, bathroom with shower, and a wraparound porch. The group cabin, for up to 28 ($175 a night with a two-night minimum), is half a mile away and seems more like a vacation home, with a spacious living room/kitchen area, stone fireplace, and two bunk rooms with bathrooms. A drive or hike to High Point Monument is essential. The monument marks the state’s highest elevation—1,803 feet. On a clear day, you can see for 80 miles around.
Parvin State Park, Pittsgrove
April 1-October 31
The park’s 18 cabins are arranged in a loop on the north shore of Thundergust Lake. The four- and six-person cabins have furnished living rooms with a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Two-bedroom cabins have bunks, kitchen, bathroom with shower, brick patios, fire rings and grills. There’s a convenient playground and a boat launch (open year-round). Parvin, at the edge of the Pine Barrens, has hiking in both pineland forest and a swamp hardwood forest. On October weekends, you can sign up for the park’s Terror in the Timbers hayride and activities for kids.
Stokes State Forest, Branchville
April 1-December 15
There are 10 four-person cabins and two eight-person cabins on a loop road; some are alongside Lake Ocquittunk, others on a hill with views. Cabins are small and cozy: a main room with a fireplace or woodstove, bunk and single beds, and a dining table, plus a basic kitchen and half bath (larger cabins have showers). A 12-person cabin ($140 nightly) is on its own secluded site, with a meadow/playing field and a patio. The cabin is airy and almost modern, with a full open kitchen, living room with fireplace, indoor picnic tables, and two bunk rooms with their own large bathrooms. Ambitious hikers head to the top of Sunrise Mountain, the go-to place for scenic fall panoramas; you can also drive to the top. Cabins are open in winter, but they’re “dry” (no running water; portable bathrooms provided).
Wharton State Forest, Atsion Recreation Area, Shamong
609-561-0024 (Batsto) April 1-October 31; some cabins open to January 31
The nine family cabins (four-, six- and eight-person) border Atsion Lake. Each has a screened porch, fireplace, fire ring, kitchen and bathroom with shower. Unlike most cabins, these have single beds (one has bunk beds). Four cabins are open through January in “dry” mode. Local attractions include the abandoned site of Atsion Village and the well-preserved Batsto Village. The Haunting in the Pines in late October is a seasonal highlight. There are also nearby cranberry-harvest celebrations.Click here to leave a comment