Brendan T. Byrne State Forest – Batona trail to Ong’s Hat

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  9.26 miles

Trails:  Batona Trail (to Ong’s Hat), Shinn’s road (back)

My Map:

 

My route, lollypop, going counter-clockwise

Back to Brendan T Byrne for another trail in 50 Hikes in New Jersey.  Today was a much better day, gorgeous sun, and not a cloud in the sky.  It was 33 when I got out of the car, and 42 when I returned with a light wind blowing the whole time.  Though, I didn’t notice it much as I was in the trees.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m not likely to backpack the whole trail, there are some other sections I might do; but I wanted to come back and do this section.

The trails were the of the same makeup, soft dirt, covered with pine needles or sandy roads – truly great to walk on.

Be aware that walking this portion of the Batona Trail does cross over some busy roads, though early on a Sunday morning I had no difficulty and saw limited traffic.  Two paved roads in particular to cross are Route 70 and Four Mile Road.  Within the forest there are numerous woods roads, unmarked trails and sandy/dirt roads that you will cross and are not on all maps.

A wide sandy portion of the trail, after crossing Route 70

After crossing Route 70, the first feature you will come to is Deep Hollow Pond.

Deep Hollow Pond

The trail meanders generally to the northeast, almost parallel to Bisphams Mill Creek.  There was no place that the trail actually goes to the creek, so my pictures had to be through the brambles.  You wouldn’t be able to see the creek in the summer with the foliage out.

Bisphams Mill Creek

There’s evidence of fire.

On a day like today, you could walk and walk.  I saw a couple of people running on the trail, and towards the end I met a couple with two dogs on leash.  Supposedly, bikes are not allowed, but there is definitely evidence that bikes use the trail.  Fortunately, I did not run into any.  On the way back from Ong’s Hat, I heard a motorbike, but I never saw it.  The only other noise to be heard were the cars on the roads you cross, and traffic on Route 72 while the trail is close by.

There is a spot where you have to cross Four Mile Road.  On a Sunday morning, there was no traffic.

Four Mile Road, looking north

Finally, I reached the northern terminus of the Batona Trail, located in Ong’s Hat.

Very much likely not THE tree

What is Ong’s Hat?  I’ll quote from 50 Hikes In New Jersey (second edition):

The story begins in the early 1700s, when Jacob Ong built a tavern here.  He was a Quaker from Pennsylvania who apparently strayed from the steady course and took a liking to dancing and flirting.  The tavern, which made an excellent halfway stop for stagecoaches travelling between Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore, soon became the scene of some wild goings-on, and in 1715, the history-making event occurred.  Jacob got in a fight with one of his girlfriends.  In a jealous rage, she grabbed the hat off his head and thew it high into a huge oak tree beside the tavern.  For years the hat remained caught in the high branches, and passersby would frequently say, “Look, there’s Ong’s hat.”  It took a while, but in 1828 the town got official recognition on New Jersey maps.  It is also shown on the USGS Browns Mills quad.  As for the tree, well, it was cut down in 1978 by the county highway department.

I walked around, I didn’t see any buildings or anything remaining of Ong’s Hat.  There was a deserted building across Route 72, but I wasn’t going to cross a very busy road to investigate.

On the way back, I took Shinns Road.  Straight.  Wide.  Sandy.

Shinns Road

I passed a section on the right where you could see that the trees had been cleared out, and after a while, where the forest resumed.

There were a bunch of spots along the Batona Trail where you entered forests of young trees, nature reclaiming its space.  The trees were close together, but not very tall.

Here’s a shot of (re)crossing Route 70 (early on a Sunday morning.)

At the beginning of the trail I walked by the Lebanon Fire Tower.  On the way back, I investigated.  There was nothing preventing me from climbing the tower, I don’t know if the door to the room at the top was open.  I wasn’t finding out.  And it had nothing do with the sign saying “no trespassing.”  There was no way I was going up those stairs.

Nope
Double Nope

I had a great time on this hike; the weather co-operated which made the hike pleasant.  This would be even better in the Spring or early Summer as you are in the shade for much of the hike.  Highly recommended.

Ticks:  0

Jersey Devil sightings: 0

Blazes:

Connector trail
Batona Trail
Batona Trail across a road

Hiked:  3/1/2020

Fire on Mt. Tammany

Attention New Jersey hikers, and those hikers from the surrounding areas headed to the Delaware Water Gap:

News broke today of a fire on Mt. Tammany in the Delaware Water Gap.  Numerous sources have plenty of information:

Lehigh Valley Online

NJ101.5

The Daily Record

At this time I did not see anything on the Worthington State Forrest page, nor did I see anything on the Delaware Water Gap National Park page.

It is reported that the fire was contained this afternoon.  Trails to the summit have been reported as closed, though sites are reporting that the Appalachian Trail remained open.

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest – Batona, Cranberry, Mount Misery, Lebanon Trails

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  12.5 Miles

Trails:  Connector, Batona, Cranberry, Mount Misery, Lebanon

My Map:

You can tell by the first picture that the sun is out and it looks like great weather for a hike.  That was true, to start.  I finished in the rain and with the temperatures lower than when I started.  This is another hike in “50 Hikes in New Jersey” that I wanted to check off, and it’s a great hike in the heart of the Pine Barrens.  One mistake I made (and rather crucial.)  I used the online map to plan my hike, figuring that there would be parking sort of where the Lebanon and the Cranberry Dot trail met.  That would make for a nice round trip of around eight miles.  Oops.  Parking is at the visitor center…I needed to take a trail or two to GET to my route, then a walk back to the car (from my proposed route.)  That’s how I got to 12 miles.  And yes, I’m still sore.

You’ll notice for this post there are almost as many pictures of blazes as there are of the hike itself.  There were many blazes on this hike, including one that isn’t on any map.

My original plan did not call for me to walk a portion of the Batona trail, but I’m glad I did.  I’m not one for much backpacking, so it’s doubtful I’ll ever hike the whole trail in one shot.  I may section hike it, because I really liked what I walked.  It’s well marked, and the trail (in this section) was a dream – loose dirt/sand, covered with pine needles.

Some pictures from the Batona trail:

I took the Batona trail to Pakim Pond Day Use Area, which, believe it or not, had people enjoying a cookout.  In 40 degree weather.  Pakim Pond looked like a cool area to hang out in the summer.

The next section of the hike was spent on the Mount Misery trail and the Lebanon trail, which is mostly a paved road through the forest.  It was at this point that the rain started, mostly as sprinkles.  But, it started to get dark, and the rain a little more intense, so I stuck to the Lebanon trail to shave off some time (and distance.)

I got back on the Mount Misery trail heading back to the park office.  Doing so took me through Reeves Cranberry bogs, which were really neat to see (even in the rain.)

Finally, I was back on the Cranberry trail headed back to the office.  There was a portion of the trail that was wide, but forest close-in on both sides of the trail.

This was a great hike in the Pine Barrens.  There was no elevation change to speak of and the trails were a dream to walk on, loose dirt/sand usually topped with pine needles.  There were only a couple of locations with plenty of roots.  And, on the Batona trail there was a long stretch of boardwalk.  As it had rained the night before, there were a few sections that were a little spongy but nothing impassable.  The Lebanon trail is paved (for vehicles) most of the way, with one portion that is a dirt road.  The Park office wasn’t open (it was a Sunday) so I would like to come back and see what the office had to offer.

Ticks:  0

Jersey Devil sightings: 0

Blazes:

Connector trail to the Batona trail:

Batona Trail:

Batona and Cranberry:

Mount Misery:

One of two blazes I saw for the Lebanon trail:

I have no idea what the heck this one is, it wasn’t on ANY map.  I saw a second one too.  Anyone who knows, leave a comment.

Cranberry Trail:

Hiked:  02/02/2020

Forest Resource Education Center

(This from the Pine Acre Drive entrance)

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 5.7 miles

Trails:  Yellow, Red, Blue (parts)

Map:

Edit:  Today is National Take A Hike Day, I knew about this in the past, but had forgotten when I set out today.

This was the first hike in a while, the hazards of hockey season.  And what a day:  42 degrees, cloudy, and windy.  I can’t remember where I heard of this park, but I was glad for a relatively close hike.  I wanted to hike starting at the southern section and I drove down Bowman Road where I had seen a parking lot on the map, but I couldn’t find the pull-off/parking area.  I didn’t know it was down Pine Acre Drive (pictures below.)  In fact, the kiosk picture is from that entrance.  Not finding the entrance, I drove to the Education Center (closed on a Sunday) and modified my hike.

There was one other car in the parking lot, and that gentleman was returning from a walk down the Sensory Trail.  I started with the Yellow (Pine Acre) trail and headed off.  Trails are wide, sandy, and at this time, covered with leaves and pine needles – super comfy to walk.

You have to keep your eyes open, horses can use the trail.

A couple of shots from the trail:

On a cold blustery day, this was the only color I saw:

Hunting is allowed in some areas, I did not see or hear any hunters, but I did see the following:

When I reached the southern entrance to the yellow trail, I took some pictures so I would know where to return to should I want to use this entrance.  Pine Acre Drive is right next to two houses off of Bowman Road, it doesn’t look like much of a road and it is certainly overgrown.

The Yellow trail deposits you back in the parking lot, so I headed off to the Red trail which is named the Firewise trail.  This path was crushed gravel and had numerous interpretive displays.

There were numerous Blue Bird houses with anti-squirrel baffles.  The Blue Birds prey on some of the invasive insects in the area.

On a cold blustery day, this was a good hike, taking me about two hours.  While the trails are well marked, there are other paint markings which I’m not sure what they were marking.  Also, there are numerous forest roads and intersecting trails that are not marked.  However, if you follow the blazes, you shouldn’t get lost.  Bear in mind, the Yellow trail crosses Don Connor Boulevard a couple of times – the road could be busy, but was not on this Sunday.  There was no road noise, and I did not hear any planes overhead either.  I heard a couple of birds, but saw no other wildlife.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked: 11/17/2019

Jenny Jump State Forest – Visitor’s Center to Ghost Lake

Park Site

Trail Map

Distance:  5.8 miles

Trails:  Swamp Trail -> Spring Trail -> Summit Trail -> Ghost Lake Trail (back to car on the Summit Trail)

Map:

It had been quite a while since I was able to hit the trails, with time filled up with marching band and hockey season.  As we are nearing the end of hockey season, I found a weekend where we only had one game scheduled; which meant I was able to make an attempt at getting out and hiking.  What a day too, it started out sunny and upper 40s at 8:00.  I reached the trail by 9:45 and it warmed up to the lower 50s though clouded up as the day went on.  When I finished it was around 55, and the clouds had come in.  I took many more pictures than I’ve posted, but I’ve determined the potato I’m using is not taking the pictures it used to, so, on future trips I will be trying a new camera app.  We’ll see.  I apologize in advance.

Starting out on the Swamp trail was a great beginning; trails were wide, dirt-based, covered with leaves.

At the end of the Swamp Trail, I turned onto the Spring Trail; and that’s where things took a turn.  Minor rock scrambling was necessary to ascend to the ridge and up to Jenny Jump Mountain.  The trail changed to mostly rocks – what I am most used to in North Jersey.  Once up to the ridge I hiked along until I caught up with ten members of a hiking club.  I trailed behind them until the rested near the top of Jenny Jump Mountain and then I walked on by.  Make sure to bushwack to the overlooks, there are some great views of the mountains and fields in the distance.

Eventually, I started the long descent towards Ghost Lake.  Eventually, I turned onto the Ghost Lake trail which was wide, but had its fair share of rocks.  There are two sections with minor rock scrambling in order to get down – I wasn’t thinking about the return trip…I would have to climb UP this section later.  There were some neat plant-life in the area, massive boulders (moved by glaciers) and even a small stream that fell towards Ghost Lake.

The boulder below is huge, and a tree had fallen from the incline on the right, landing on top of the boulder.  The trail winds UNDER the fallen tree.

Eventually, I exited the forest and got to Ghost Lake.

This was a great place to stop for a minute, eat, and grab something to drink.

After resting for a minute, I thought I would look for the Fairy Hole, a cave by the side of Ghost Lake.  In using Google Maps, I realized the cave was on the other side of Ghost Lake, and really didn’t want to walk all the way around when I had a trip (uphill) all the way back.  Off I went.  (And on the way back into the forest, I ran into the hiking group I had passed earlier.  I think I saw “Garden State Hiking Club” on one gentleman’s jacket. Hello again, if you’re reading.)

I took the Ghost Lake Trail back to the Summit Trail (uphill – all the way, including the rock scrambling I earlier descended) and turned on to the Summit Trail.  I planned to take the Summit Trail back to the car.  When I reached the highest point, I came across a bench facing a great view.

That’s the Delaware Water Gap in the distance…and it probably looks better on a) a less cloudy day, b) less leaves, and c) a better picture.  Continuing on, I was treated to more glacial erratics:

One last overlook had a great view of the fields:

Trails were well marked; while I had the trail map in my bag, I really didn’t need it.  On this hike I happened across more people than I had seen on the trails in a while. Even though it had rained the day before, the trails were in great condition.  I passed a whole bunch of campsites and shelters, and on a future trip here I think I would want to stay in a shelter; it looked like fun.  There were lots of squirrels, and I think the chipmunk militia was following me again; I heard them frequently.  I was walking in bear country again, but did not see any.

I chose Jenny Jump as it will probably be my only hike before Halloween; and there are lots of myths about the forest.  Supposedly, a young girl jumped to her death off one of the large boulders near the top of Jenny Jump mountain, and her spirit wanders the park.  Ghost Lake is named due to a local native American burial ground, or the steam and mist that rises from the lake in the mornings.  And, as an avid Weird NJ reader, I was right near Shades of Death Road.  Of course, I had to drive down the road so I could say I did.

I’m happy to say I made it back with no issues stopping for both pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts at a roadside stand.  Unfortunately, I saw no ghosts, and no bears, but it was a great hike and a great day.

Ticks:  0  (Though we did find one on the dog the next day, it’s not confirmed where the tick came from.)

Hiked:  10/14/2018