If You Go: Tips To Ease Your Trip Through The Pine Barrens

Here are a few tips to help you travel through the Pine Barrens if you're camping or hiking.

Trail maps are available online from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/.

• Be sure to obtain a camping permit from the appropriate state forest office; $3 for residents; $5, nonresidents. Visit state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/wharton.html.

• Read John McPhee’s classic The Pine Barrens as well as Howard Boyd’s thorough Field Guide to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. They will transform your appreciation of the whole area.

• Download a phone app like RunKeeper to track your distance and pace.

• Do not rely on GPS (in car or phone) to navigate the Pine Barrens. Use physical maps or plan on getting severely lost.

• Batona Trail blazes are bright pink—easy to spot, but where the trail crosses dirt roads the next blaze may not be exactly opposite the place where you emerged.

• In addition to good hiking boots and high socks, pack sandals or loose-fitting sneakers to give your feet a break when not on the trail.

• Among the wilderness camps on the trail, Bodine Field, Hawkins Bridge, Batona, Mullica River and Goshen Pond all have pumps with delicious, potable water. There is no water at Buttonwood Hill and Lower Forge. All of the camps have pit toilets. The area also has a number of private campgrounds.

• If you have time for only one section, hike the 12 miles from Batona Camp to Batsto, the trail’s most scenic stretch. 

• To reach Batona Camp, take Exit 7 off the Turnpike, take US 206 South 20 miles, left on Carranza Road (CR 648) to the Carranza Memorial and follow the dirt road to the campground.

• If you start at Ong’s Hat, eat lunch at Pakim Pond. It’s gorgeous and has gazebos, picnic tables, potable water and clean restrooms.

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