New Jersey Pine Barrens - Your Guide to Things to Do and Events
Courtesy: Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Tips, Little Known Facts, Folklore, and Things to Do In The New Jersey Pine Barrens
The Pine Barrens is a large and heavily forested area stretches across the southern coastal plain of New Jersey and is renowned for its unspoiled nature, abundant, and diverse wildlife.
Also known as the Pine Lands, it covers a huge area of over 1.1 million
acres, or 22 percent of New Jersey's land area. Created by Congress in
1978, the Pine Barrens was designated an International Biosphere Reserve
The Pine Barrens contains more land mass than either Yosemite or Grand Canyon national parks.
Pine Barrens are popular as a destination for a weekend getaway and day
trippers who enjoy getting outdoors to experience a pristine
environment. For the adventuresome, there are a wide variety of
canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, cycling, hunting. horseback riding,
and camping activities.
For the more casual or curious visitor,
there are a variety of attractions to visit and learn about the region's
history, old, abandoned towns, and folklore.
The Pine Barrens Scenic Byway
Visitors are encouraged to travel the scenic byway to enjoy the full experience of the Pine Barrens.
Map Courtesy: Pinelands Commission: (click-on for enlarged view)
The Scenic Byway travels along existing roadways through Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean Counties, including portions of 16 municipalities. It meanders through areas of striking natural beauty and rich historic heritage. With a focus on maritime portions of the Pinelands, the route takes advantage of the scenic qualities and historic hamlets of the Mullica, Maurice and Tuckahoe River Corridors.
Agriculture and Tourism
The Pine Barrens is almost entirely dependent on agriculture and tourism for its revenue. It`s a prolific producer of cranberries and blueberries. In more recent years efforts have been made to preserve the untouched nature of the area by restricting development and the creation of the New Jersey Pine lands National Reserve
Folklore and It's Residents
Folklore has played an important part in the culture of the area and the legend of the Jersey Devil remains strong to this day. This unfortunate creature was apparently the 13th child born in 1735 to a woman named Mrs. Leeds and superstitious locals said he was cursed. Another tale has it that the Jersey Devil was a monster which attacked the poor mother and her nurses because flying up the chimney and escaping. There have been numerous `sightings` of the infamous Jersey Devil in the area.
For many years, outsiders called residents of the Pine Barrens, `Pineys` which was certainly not meant to be a compliment. People here were held to be slow and somewhat inbred, a view largely attributed to a now discredited study into a poor backwoods' family called the Kallikaks, who were labeled as genetically inferior. Subsequently the whole study has been shown to be a misrepresentation and these days `Pineys` have reclaimed the name for themselves as one they are proud to identify with.
Plants and Wildlife
The area has escaped development and urbanization, thanks to the poor quality of its sandy and acidic soil, hence the `barren` part of its name. The earth here is so poor in nutrients that the crops brought in by early settlers yielded unimpressive harvests. Yet the unusual conditions were ideal for a unique and wide-ranging array of plant life to thrive, such as orchids and carnivorous plants.
Dwarf pine trees grow everywhere and these tiny trees, never more than 4 feet in height, are dependent on the area`s frequent forest fires as part of their life cycle and reproductive pattern. The fires keep undergrowth at a low level and enable mature trees to do better.
Wildlife is rich here and there are many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, including 43 species that are considered endangered, such as bald eagles, eastern timber rattlesnakes and bobcats.
Things to see and do
The Pine Barrens is very much an outdoors type of place to visit, with opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and kayaking. There are many wildlife trails to explore both on foot and by car
Some of the popular attractions include:
Pinelands Visitors Center
17 Pemberton Road
Located at the
Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the welcome center is a recommended starting point for anyone interested in learning more about the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
The Visitors Center offers information about the recreational opportunities, historic and cultural attractions, and the conservation efforts and issues associated with the New Jersey Pinelands. Visitors will find a variety of maps, brochures and interpretive displays focusing on the Pinelands, and a bookstore with more than 100 titles about the Pinelands and South Jersey in stock.
This location also is the site of the historic Bishop Farmstead, the historic Louden barn, native plants and display gardens, a walking trail through grassland habitat for wildflowers, birds, and butterflies, a gift shop, the Rancocas Creek Farm a regenerative farm on 72-acres started in 2019
Wharton State Forest
31 Batsto Road
Wharton State Forest is the largest single tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System with over 125,000 acres.
Wharton features historic sites, a variety of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, as well as rivers and lakes for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Swimming is available during the summer at Atsion Lake.
It is the site of Batsto Village
(available for self-guided exploration), a former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867 that currently reflects the agricultural and commercial enterprises that existed here during the late 19th century.
While the native Indians are gone, Batsto Village has changed and survived. Archaeological investigations have discovered evidence of prehistoric life in the Batsto area. Evidence shows land use dating back several thousand years. Here visitors can learn of the important role the Village played in the industrial development of the United States.
Another popular attraction is the Apple Pie Hill Fire Tower with fantastic views. Climbing the tower on a clear day you can see Philadelphia, Atlantic City and many other points in the surrounding area. And of course, you will see the vastness of the New Jersey Pinelands. Apple Pie Hill is generally recognized as one of the highest points in southern New Jersey coming in at 205 feet above sea level. You can get to the tower on the easy, flat surface Batona Trail from the Carranza Memorial.
Cranberry Fall Harvest Tour
Pine Barrens Native Fruits
1 Pasadena Road
Browns Mills, NJ 08015
A wonderful, fall experience --- occurs annually during October.
Learn about the native agriculture difference and how the cranberry industry preserved the Pine Barrens, the largest wilderness area between Boston and Richmond. The tour will cover a lot of local history and cranberry culture through personal stories and entertaining, but little-known facts. Then out to the bogs on a narrated tour on their specially designed bus. Every seat is a window seat with panoramic views. Unlike demonstration farms, your experience will take you right into the heart of a working cranberry farm. See the crews picking and gathering the fruit as they work in a sea of floating cranberries.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
110 Unexpected Rd
protected natural habitat comprising 767 acres of pristine pine lands, forest, fields and bogs. It provides a refuge to animals and plants indigenous to southern New Jersey; a place where wildlife can live freely and naturally without fear of being harmed at the hands of human beings.
A great place for hiking. The trails can be rugged and challenging, Excellent for birders, artists, and photographers. Visitors are apt to see beavers, river otters, bald eagles, deer, turtles and a large variety of birds. Call ahead for an appointment to visit,
located within the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, is an historic company town, founded in the 1870s. In the early 1900's, Whitesbog was the largest cranberry farm in New Jersey. It was here that in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the first cultivated blueberry was developed. Open year round there are many museums, trails and nature sites to explore and learn.
Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
4 Sawmill Road
Medford, NJ 08055
The Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is a pristine 184-acre refuge, dedicated to Wildlife Rehabilitation, Environmental Education, and Habitat Preservation. The habit sits amongst upland pine and oak forests, several cedar swamps, and a lake that hosts many species of mammals and birds.
The refuge also has an environmental education and nature center with classrooms, hands-on exhibits, library and offices and wooded nature trails that link the uplands with the wetlands.
Chatsworth Cranberry Festival
Plan your trip in the 3rd full weekend in October and take in this celebration of New Jersey's cranberry harvest, the 3rd largest in the United States, and offers a tribute to the Pine Barrens & Local Culture. Continue south down Rt 563 (Carranza Road) to Green Bank, passing by the cranberry bogs. In the fall they are bright red with floating berries.
The Popcorn Park Zoo
A sanctuary for rescued animals including tigers, monkeys, black bear as well as many domestic creatures. Located in the scenic Pine Barrens of Ocean County, is now home to over 200 animals and birds, all provided spacious living quarters and assured a lifetime of good care
Places to Stay
J.D. Thompson Inn Bed and Breakfast
Located in the heart of the historic town of Tuckerton, Minutes from the Pine Barens scenic byway Rt 542, this romantic Victorian B & B is ideal for couples seeking a romantic getaway
Reviews and Booking
Inn at Sugar Mill
Mays Landing, NJ
Located 20 minutes from Atlantic City, and minutes from Scenic Byway CR623 enroute to Batsto Village, this waterfront Country Inn
features charm and old-world hospitality'
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Isaac House B & B
A charming circa 1749, four unit B & B with a swimming pool
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Locust Hall Farm Bed and Breakfast
A six room charming B & B in a rural, farm setting
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Pine Barrens Camping Sites & Reservations
Cedar Creek Campground Canoe and Kayak Rentals
1052 US Highway 9
Bayville, NJ 08721
They offer Kayak & Canoe rentals from their campground. They take you up stream to one of 3 locations. And at the end of day on Cedar Creek, there's no waiting around in cold, wet clothes as the sun sets for a pickup. Just paddle right down river to the abandoned rail bridge and pull your boats out there. You'll arrive steps away from our campground.
Wading Pines Camping Resort
85 Godfrey Bridge Road
Chatsworth, New Jersey 08019
Located right on the Wading River, their wooded sites accommodate every style of camping, from tent sites to spacious pull-thrus with hookups which include everything from 50-amp electric through free cable TV!
For non-campers, they also have a variety of 16 rental cabins, many with waterfront locations. Paddle downstream to one of the many secluded picnic spots along the riverbanks. If you prefer to stay "closer to home", you can picnic at their private island in the river.
Canoe & Kayak rentals are available along with a choice or trips lasting from one to five hours.
Wharton State Forest Camping Reservations
With over 125,000 acres, Wharton State Forest is the largest State Forest in the New Jersey State Park System.