Typical section of the Batona Trail in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest
|Length||approx. 49.5 mi (79.7 km)a[›]|
|Location||New Jersey Pine Barrens, Burlington County, New Jersey|
|Trailheads||Leektown, Bass River
Ong's Hat, Pemberton
|Elevation change||196 ft (60 m)|
|Highest point||Apple Pie Hill|
|Season||Early to mid-Spring, Fall, Winter|
Apple Pie Hill
The Batona Trail is a 49.5-mile (79.7 km) hiking trail through New Jersey's Pine Barrens. The trail is the one of the longest in the state behind the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail, the section of the Appalachian Trail within the state, the Liberty-Water Gap Trail, and the completed section of the Highlands Trail in the state. The trail begins in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest) at the ghost town of Ong's Hat and traverses Wharton State Forest and Bass River State Forest. The trail was built in 1961 by the Batona Hiking Club, which began informally in 1928 when Philadelphians began meeting regularly to hike. It takes about three days to hike the whole trail.
In 1960, Dale Knapschafer, suggested a trail be built linking Wharton and Lebanon State Forests. The next year, Batona Hiking Club president, Morris Bardock, contacted the Department of Conservation and Economic Development in New Jersey for permission to construct such a trail. After receiving permission from the state, Morris Bardock and Walter Korszniak made exploratory trips to figure out a route in the winter and spring of 1961 for the future trail. Through the help of volunteers, the first thirty miles of the trail were completed over the summer and the final pink blaze was painted on a tree near NJ 70 in Lebanon State Forest on September 16, 1961. Bardock chose pink blazes for the Batona Trail. The trail originally connected Carpenter Spring in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest) and Batsto in Wharton State Forest. At this time Batsto (batstu meaning bath place in Swedish) was being developed by the state and continued to be inhabited by a few people. More recently the trail has been extended
In 2012 the trail was rerouted in two areas. The first was in Bass River State Forest which is the southernmost part of the trail. The second area is around Chatsworth. Both of the rerouted sections go through quieter areas and bypass paved roads and power lines where the trail originally ran. The Chatsworth section puts the trail through the northern section of the Franklin Parker Perserve. Both of these reroutings have added about 2 miles to the overall trail length.
Flora and fauna
Although the Pine Barrens, as the name suggests, are mainly flat pine forests, there is a large variety of plants and animals along the trail. The pines that are found there include loblolly pine, white pine, pitch pine, shortleaf pines, and Virginia pines. Although the pines dominate the area there are also maple trees, birches, cedars, oaks, magnolia, and sassafras trees along the trail. There are a number of edible plants, such as bearberries, spotted wintergreen, teaberries, huckleberries, bayberries, blackberries, cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries. There is a diverse range of other plants, to include the prickly pear cactus, wildflowers, twenty-eight species of orchids, the pitcher plant, ferns, Atlantic white cedar, and sphagnum moss.
Thirty-nine species of mammals, two hundred and twenty-nine bird species, fifty-nine reptile and amphibian species and ninety-one fish species have been reported in the Pine Barrens. Possums, chipmunks, squirrels, beavers, muskrats, mice, foxes, raccoons, weasels, mink, river otter, and white-tailed deer are some of the more common mammals seen in the Pinelands. Some common amphibians and reptiles are snakes, skinks, newts, salamanders, frogs, toads, and turtles. The Pine Barrens Tree Frog has a population here that is disconnected from other populations in the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle. The Pine Barrens location makes it the fringe of both northern and southern species, such as the Yellow Fringed Orchid.
The Annual Fall Endurance Walk on the Batona Trail is generally held on the first Sunday in November.
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest
Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest) has more than 25 miles (40 km) of blazed trails, including its section of the Batona Trail. The system of trails includes trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, mountain biking, and wheelchair accessible trails. The Batona trail in this park permits hiking, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing. The Batona Trail intersects with other trails in the park, allowing visitors to create various loops for day hikes. The Batona Trail through Byrne State Forest is maintained by the State park Service and the Batona Hiking Club.
Wharton State Forest
The portion of the Batona Trail through Wharton State Forest is maintained by the State Park Service and the Batona Hiking Club.
The Batona trail passes the Carranza memorial within Wharton State Forest. There is a 12-foot-high (3.7 m) monument dedicated to Captain Aviator Emilio Carranza, whose plane crashed here on July 13, 1928. Carranza was born in Mexico in 1905 and began flying at a young age, after fighting against the Yaqui in the Yaqui rebellion. At age 22, he made the third longest non-stop flight. Carranza crashed in the pinelands of Tabernacle, NJ, along what is now known as Carranza Road while returning from a good-will flight to the United States from Mexico. Every year a ceremony is held on July 13 to remember Emilio Carranza's life and achievements.
Bass River State Forest
There is a system of eight additional trails in the state forest that connect to the Batona Trail. The Batona Trail through Bass River State Forest is maintained by the State Park Service, the Outdoor Club of South Jersey and the Batona Hiking Club.
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