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Brendan Byrne State Forest
Pakim Pond and Mt. Misery Trail
Summary: A great sample of New Jersey's pine barrens: endless pine, sandy trails covered in pine needles, and cranberry bogs.
It's also a hike that is more about the journey than the destination: Mt. Misery is the goal but there is not much to see… just the back of some old buildings left from a 1930's CCC camp. And it's not even a hill, let alone a mount!
Trail surface: Level, and covered with soft pine needles or walking on sand roads.
- This route: 9.8 miles
- Shorter: About a 5.25 mile loop can be made out of the Cranberry and Batona trials, starting from either the visitor center or Pakim Pond lot.
- Short: About a 2 mile loop from the visitor center using the Cranberry Trail and Cranberry Loop Trail from the visitor center lot.
Our 2-cents: Pay attention to blazes as they can be vague/missing at times, and make sure you have a map and compass (or better, a GPS; and even better...loaded with our waypoints, see above). There are marked trails, unmarked trails, sand roads, park roads – and pine trees that all looks the same – so there are prime opportunities to get lost here.
The pine barrens in warm weather means hot sun and lots-o-ticks, be sure to have bug spray, sunscreen and a hat.
Map: Get a map outside the visitor center or print out the Brendan Byrne trail map we've scanned. Note: on the map the orange bike trail is also the paved road (and on the map it looks kinda yellow, but the trail blaze is orange)
Note: A variation of this hike in the older "50 Hikes in New Jersey" (2nd ed.) can be a little confusing, years ago we got turned around using it... and have run into other lost hikers following the book too.
Parking: N39 52.789 W74 32.025 [Pakim Pond lot]
From the park's website: From the NJ Turnpike, take exit 7 and follow Route 206 south to Route 38 east, to second traffic light, then turn onto Magnolia Road (Route 644).
Follow Magnolia Road until you come to the Four-Mile Circle. From the circle take Route 72 east, at mile marker 1 make a left. There is a forest entrance sign on your left as you turn in. Take the first right and the office is on the left.
Note: This hike starts at the Pakim Pond lot which is further down the park road, called Shinns Road. Turn left onto Buzzard Hill Road to get to the parking lot. We didn't notice signs for Pakim until close to the pond.
Rest rooms: Inside the park office if open, or a porta-john in the lot. At the Pakim lot, restrooms and a porta-john. Composting toilet along the Mt. Misery Trail, at about 2.5 miles in.
Hike Directions: Overview: WHITE (Mt Misery Trail) - RED (Cranberry Trail). The majority of this route in on WHITE, and only the last bit is on RED.
0.0 - With the parking lot to your back, head left towards trail signs for WHITE/PINK/RED.
0.1 - Signs for the trail split for Batona Trail (PINK) and Mt Misery Trail (WHITE), turn RIGHT onto Mt Misery Trail (WHITE).
Cross over Pakim Pond on a boardwalk, with views of the pond.
0.3 - Continue straight on WHITE as the Batona Trail (PINK) veers off to the right. The blazes get a little sparse here.
1.7 - Turn LEFT continuing on WHITE. There are also ORANGE and GREEN blazes in this area. [GREEN was not on the map]
2.0 - Turn LEFT continuing on WHITE, just before a paved road. There are two white blazes on a tree indicating the left but are hard to spot.
Not long after that turn, there is another LEFT that is easy to miss (we've done it before). Two faint white blazes on a tree indicate the turn, but there is also a path that goes straight. [Not a huge deal if you miss it, as you end up on the road, and in a little bit the route ends up on there anyway]
2.3 - Turn LEFT as the WHITE trail now joins the paved road. Cross over a stream (McDonalds Branch)
2.5 - Composting toilet and sandy parking area. The WHITE trail veers RIGHT away from the paved road.
2.8 - In an somewhat open area, Turn LEFT continuing on WHITE. Blazes are faint and trail may be hard to spot.
3.5 - The WHITE trail comes to the paved road. Turn RIGHT as the trail follows the road a bit (white markers are faint).
3.6 - Turn LEFT off of the paved road at the small "Mt Misery 2 Miles" marker post.
4.0 - Cross a woods road - Woodsmansie Rd (not shown on trail map) - the trail turns LEFT onto the road then RIGHT back off of it.
5.5 - Arrive at a woods road (Forest Road) and Mt Misery. The buildings are from the CCC camp of the 1930s. There are 3 WHITE blazes denoting the trail end, but this is just around the middle of this route. [There were also blue and orange markers... not sure what those correspond to]
We found this area lacking in indication of what to do next:
Cross woods road (Forest Road) and veer to the left, with the buildings on the right. Watch for a path that turns LEFT, then the trail will turn LEFT again in a bit. Watch carefully for WHITE blazes.
6.8 - Cross the paved road and follow the blazes as the trail passes through cranberry bogs.
7.8 - After the water, continue following the WHITE trail as it veers to the LEFT. Shortly after that is junction with sand trails and RED-YELLOW-BLUE marks on a tree [again, not sure what those are for - not on the park map]. Continue following WHITE.
8.3 - Cross a woods road [Coopers Road]
8.7 - End of WHITE (Mt Misery Trail), marked with large trail head sign. It's not indicated, but continue straight, now following RED (Cranberry Trail)
9.3 - Pass PINK (Batona Trail) coming in from the right.
9.7 - Arrive at Coopers Road, and turn RIGHT, crossing the road, continuing on the RED (Cranberry Trail). Follow this back to the Pakim Pond lot, eventually seeing the restrooms in front of you, with the lot on the right.
Hiked: 2/20/11. Trail Blog: "Brendan Byrne – Pakim Pond and Mt. Misery Trail"