The Pinelands Top 5 Hikes
1. Batona Trail - Franklin Parker Preserve - Woodland Township, NJ – 8.3 miles one way.
This one requires a bit of planning, as you’ll need to park cars on each side or arrange a pickup at the end (or do 16 miles in a day), but it’s worth it. You start with the Apple Pie Hill fire tower, then cross almost immediately into the Parker Preserve. The Batona is separate from the other four trails in the Parker Preserve, so it’s often less populated than the other Parker Preserve trails. The bogs here aren’t ringed with old roads which makes you think you are in the middle of nowhere. There are tons of great little bridges over streams and old ditches, plenty of stretches of pine forest, and the end is a hop from island to island (helped by some connecting boards) through a little swamp before exiting onto Route 72. It’s totally awesome.
2. Batona Trail - Carranza to Apple Pie Hill (Wharton State Forest) - Tabernacle, NJ – 8.2 miles out-and-back.
The Batona Trail is, hands down, the king of the Pine Barrens trails. It’s the only one in South Jersey that offers multi-day backpacking trips, and one of the few trails in the state that can be considered a long-distance trail (at just under 53 miles). This is a fantastic stretch. Starting at the Carranza Memorial, you can visit the memorial to that fallen aviation hero of Mexico Emilio Carranza. You’ll then pass through camp, follow along a swamp, and cross Skit Branch. From here, it’s swamps, Mount Korbar and finally up Apple Pie Hill after 4.1 miles. This is a great spot to eat lunch, then make sure to climb the fire tower here. From the top, you can see Philadelphia and Atlantic City, as well a massive chunk of the pine barrens. One of the best spots in South Jersey. Then its back down the tower, and back the way that you came.
3. Red Trail - Franklin Parker Preserve – Woodland Township (Chatsworth), NJ - 6 miles (loop)
This beautiful six-mile loop is in the middle of the pines, many miles from anywhere else. It snakes through pinelands, open meadows, and along old cranberry bogs. It’s flat through some areas, but hilly in others to offer variety. It also features the best trail bridge in the pine barrens (a suspension bridge) and two oversized chairs to relax in.
4. Cloverdale Farm County Park - Barnegat Township, NJ - 1.5 miles of trail (loop)
It’s short, but it snakes through the well-preserved remains of a cranberry bog operation, complete with a reconstructed nature center and most of the outbuildings. Trails go around the edges of the bogs, offering beautiful views of the water and of the birds who now hang out there. It’s a great place to get some stunning pictures.
5. Black Run Preserve - Evesham Township, NJ - 9 miles of trails (and growing).
The Friends of Black Run Preserve have done an awesome job of making this preserve available to public, and are improving the trail system almost continually. Also a great spot to bird along the old cranberry bogs, do the orienteering/map course, go for a run on the 5K Trail or go for a ride on your mountain bike.
Mike McCormick is a South Jersey native who has been hiking and canoeing for most of his life. He started a blog about his experiences 5 years ago which developed into a comprehensive website that provides hiking resources based on his extensive knowledge and experience of the area. For more information, visit SouthJerseyTrails.org.Edit ModuleShow Tags