Added by Mike Servedio
This is a relatively easy hike that explores a scenic section of New Jersey's Pine Barrens in Wharton State Forest.
Looking at a map of New Jersey, you'll notice that the biggest green patch of forest on the map is Wharton State Forest, in the southern half of the state. There are many great hikes to do in the state forest, described here is a relatively easy 7 mile hike that serves a nice introduction to hiking in the Pine Barrens. Much of the hike is is on packed dirt or sand and offers no elevation change. It's a great place to hike if you are looking to cover easy miles, as I easily average a 3 mph walking pace.
Starting at the Atsion Ranger Station, right on Route 206, the hike is a lollipop loop that utilizes the Yellow, Green, and Purple Trails. Walk from the parking area along Quaker Bridge Road for a short while, past the Grace Bible Baptist Church. You will be following the yellow blazed Mullica River Trail here as it runs along the road before turning left into the forest.
You will be on the yellow trail for about 3 miles. The trail is obvious and winds through the pines, passes an abandoned railroad, eventually reaching Beaver Pond/Mullica River and continuing along its bank for a short while. There will be a turn off and sign for the purple blazed Beaver Pond - Quakerbridge Trail, but continue past the turn along the yellow trail. The purple trail will be your return route.
After about 3 miles, you will arrive at the green blazed Wilderness Connector Trail. Turn left onto the Wilderness Connector (if you stay on the Mullica River Trail, you'll reach Mullica River Camp, a backcountry campsite, after another mile). The Wilderness Connector is a short but scenic 3/4 mile trail that continues through dense pine forests. At the end of the trail, you'll reach the purple trail again near Quaker Bridge. If you cross the bridge, the pink blazed Batona Trail is on the other side. (Note: Quaker Bridge is grated. Your dog will probably not be able to walk across on its own. My friend has had to carry his 75lb dog across a few times. I've include a picture of the grated bridge above.)
From the bridge, return back along the purple blazed Beaver Pond - Quakerbridge Trail. The trail is just shy of 2 miles and will return you back to the yellow blazed Mullica River Trail at the spot you passed on your way out.
Rejoin the Mullica River Trail by bearing right and follow it back to your car, just over two miles away.
This is an easy hike that still offers a fair amount of solitude. I've done it 10+ times and never come across more than a handful of other hikers, and many times I've seen no one at all.
- Comfortable hiking shoes
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