Hike around old cranberry bogs through a beautiful section of NJ’s Pine Barrens, and look for wildlife from an observation platform.
6.6 miles. Easy, flat, no elevation changes. Soft, pine needle or sand surface. Potentially wet areas and crossings. A section of the YELLOW trail was completely impassable the day we hiked, and we couldn’t complete the loop.
- Shorter: Just WHITE (3 miles) or YELLOW (< 5 miles)
- Longer: Combine with portions of RED or GREEN to get about 10-11 miles in.
- Nearby: Hike other trails starting from the Franklin Parker – Chatsworth lot; also Brendan Byrne – Pakim Pond and Mt. Misery, Apple Pie Hill, Penn State Forest.
Our two cents:
There is a lot of variety in this park and plenty of visually interesting areas to photograph.
The trail network is well planned and offers a lot of route flexibility. In addition to the marked trails, there are many paths around the bogs.
But like many areas in the Pine Barrens, a good portion of this park is on wide sand roads or around old cranberry bogs which might push the definition of ‘hiking’ for some.
Print the map ahead in case none are in the trail kiosk.
Not in any that we’re aware of.
Parking: N39° 46.729′ W74° 32.482′
Speedwell lot on Rt. 563. We took turnpike S to exit 7, Rt. 206 S, 532 to 563 – but there are directions from around NJ on the park’s site.
Small area near a gate had a few cars or pull into the sand road across from that.
Another parking area, the Chatsworth lot, is on Rt. 532 and allows access to the other end of the trail system.
None, and none at the Chatsworth lot either. Depending on the route taken, there are Wawas and gas stations, but near the park there isn’t much around.
Overview: YELLOW – BLUE connector – WHITE
0.0 – From the area near the gate, cross Rt. 563 and walk down the sand road on the YELLOW trail, or if you parked on this side, just start down the sand road.
Pass a wooden trail kiosk and then a few small areas of water. (The map shows a BLUE connector trail very early on, but we didn’t notice it.)
0.6 – Turn LEFT and now follow a BLUE connector trail.
Marker may be hard to spot, it’s down the trail a bit, on a tall tree.
The YELLOW trail continues straight and we intended to follow it entirely around the bogs but were stopped by deep water covering the trail.
Unsure if this was a new situation or has existed for awhile.
We attempted to find a route around, and some breaches on the map were actually crossable, but after several mildly adventurous attempts we backtracked a BLUE connector trail.
There are 3 blue markers on the tall tree.
1.0 – Pass (or sit on!) a bench with a view over the bogs. There will be a few other benches along the way too.
1.2 – BLUE veers to the LEFT and then ends at YELLOW.
Turn LEFT and start following YELLOW. Soon, pass a small pavilion and bench with a view of the Wading River.
1.4 – Pass a BLUE connector trail. Continue following YELLOW.
1.9 – Cross Rt 563. Continue following YELLOW. The trail becomes a narrower footpath.
2.4 – Continue on YELLOW as it veers RIGHT – it is a little hard to spot the marker.
[An unmarked trail goes straight].
3.1 – Continue following YELLOW as it turns LEFT.
[Pass a BLUE connector trail, this meets up with RED/GREEN in the rest of the park]
3.9 – Arrive at a wide sand road and turn RIGHT to start following WHITE – though it’s not marked to the right.
[YELLOW/WHITE continues left and is a faster route back to the parking lot]
4.2 – Continue following WHITE, passing a BLUE connector.
4.6 – Arrive at more bogs and turn LEFT, now following WHITE/GREEN.
5.0 – Turn LEFT, now following WHITE. [GREEN goes right]
5.2 – Continue following WHITE, passing a BLUE connector.
5.7 – At a T-intersection in a wide open area of bogs, turn LEFT to continue on WHITE… we did not spot a marker.
Soon after is a wet crossing.
5.9 – Wildlife observation platform.
When ready, continue on WHITE. Shortly after the platform, the WHITE trail veers RIGHT.
The marker is visible down the trail a bit but not at the intersection.
6.5 – Follow WHITE as it turns LEFT and soon arrives back at the lot.