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 in 1988.
The Pine Barrens contains more land mass than either Yosemite or Grand Canyon national parks.
The 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.
Visitors are encouraged to travel the scenic byway to enjoy the full experience of the Pine Barrens.
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.