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. Drive through the circle and continue on Rte72 east. Turn left at the forest entrance sign. The office and parking are a short distance on the right.
The fresh scent of pine greets the visitor to Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, a protected 34,000 acre forest located in the mysterious New Jersey Pine Barrens. Iron rich streams flow through acres of cranberry bogs and swampland covered with dense stands of Atlantic White Cedar. A 50+ mile network of long, flat sandy trails and roads criss-cross the forest and allow you to enjoy the scenery and biological diversity of the Pine Barrens. Slow moving, clear, tea colored meandering streams support cedar swamps and bogs. Sandy high grounds anchor tall pitch pines. Deserted sand roads lead to once thriving towns and industries. Oak-pine forests, cranberry reservoirs and blueberry farms are prominent landscape features encountered in the area and along the roads and trails.
Multi-use trails bekon outdoor enthusiasts and take you through the Cedar Swamp Natural Area, an outstanding example of an Atlantic white cedar swamp. This beautiful, mysterious cedar and pitch pine forest encompasses the headwaters of the Shinns Branch and supports many plant and bird species including some endangered members of the lily family.
This is such a large area that unless you are really familiar with the terrain, using the trails designated by Park management is your best bet. There are 2 main trails. The white (Mount Misery) and the red (Cranberry) trail. Mountain bikes are not permitted on the Batona Trail. We rode here in the fall of 2008 and 2009 for hours. We'll never get tired of mountain biking through this unique landscape. The best time to go mountain biking here is in the early spring or fall.
Park faclities include a camping area with 79 tent and trailer sites, flush toilets, showers, laundry facilitites picnic areas, playground.
Trail highlights: Pakim Pond, white cedar swamp natural areas, cranberry bogs, Whitesbog Village.
Brendan Byrne Sampler Ride
If you have limited time, we suggest the following ride which samples both the many trail types and various habitats within the forest. Take the hard-surfaced Cranberry Trail (see trail descriptions below) to the trailhead for the Mt. Misery Trail. Turn left onto the Mt. Misery Trail (see description below) and mountain bike to the northern end of the loop where it turns sharply right. Backtrack along the trail to the paved road. Turn right on the paved road, pass the first cranberry bog on your left and take the first left onto a wide sand road (Orange Dashed Blazes). This road will take you back to the Cranberry Trail or to the paved road. A right at either one will take you back to the forest headquarters.
The Brendan Bryne Forest Trails & Roads
The Cranberry Trail (Red Blazes): 2.7 miles one-way
This trail, great for families and beginners, provides a sampling of the landscape of the region. The trailhead is just to the right of the Park Headquarters (facing the building). It immediately crosses the paved park road and enters the forest past the gate. The trail is hard surfaced to allow for wheelchair access and easy hiking or mountain biking. After approximately .5 miles there, is a sharp right turn. To the left is a wide sand road. There may be a log across the trail to the right. Go over or around the log and continue on the hard surfaced trail. After a little bit more than .5 miles the trail meets a sand road. Turn left (see trail marker) and ride along the sand road. At this point you will be entering the Cedar Swamp Natural Area. After a short stretch along the sand road you come to a clearing. Look for a gate to the right and re-enter the forest on the trail. At almost 2 miles from the Park Headquarters you come to a large boulder with an embedded plaque dedicated to David Moore in recognition of his efforts in protecting natural areas. Just past the boulder is the trailhead for the Mt. Misery Trail (white blazes). From this point it is around .7 miles to the trail's terminus at pretty Pakim Pond.
The Cranberry Loop Trail (Red Dashed Blazes): 1.1 mile
This spur off the main Cranberry Trail can be used to create an alternate loop near the office.
Mount Misery Trail (White Blazes): 8.5 miles
This trail links up with the Cranberry trail. Elevation gains along the route are minimal, despite its name. The trail ranges from singletrack on compacted soil, with an occasional small log or roots, to dirt or sandy doubletrack to old sand roads. A few short sections may pass through loose or deep sand. Many unmarked spur trails cross, so unless you are familiar with the area stick to the marked trail.
If you ride clockwise, the trailhead can be accessed from the Cranberry Trail just past the Moore Memorial, around 2 miles from the Park Headquarters. A Mt. Misery Trail sign marks the trailhead. Head northeast on the dirt singletrack. At aprroximately .5 miles you will cross a sand road and soon after, the Coopers Branch stream. On the next stretch of doubletrack the trail may travel through some deep and loose sand before reaching a large pond. This is actually an abandoned cranberry reservoir. The old sand road that takes you north alongside the pond actually is crossing a narrow strip of land between this pond and a larger body of water to your left (see map). If you ride during the late fall or winter when the trees have few leaves, then this is more apparent. Past the pond the trail turns left, taking you over rooty singletrack through a wetland with low brush. After about .5 miles the trail crosses a paved road (northern leg of the paved bike loop). Cross the road and continue on the trail. The smooth, flowing and sometimes winding single and doubletrack takes you (around 1.15 miles) through a beautiful forest of pine and oak to Mt. Misery (what mountain?) where the trail turns sharply to the right. Another sharp right takes you to another long straight stretch of single and doubletrack through the forest back to the paved road. The trail winds its way, crossing several streams and the paved road several more times, before reaching the end at Pakim Pond. If you parked at the office then take either the Cranberry Trail or paved road back.
Note: You can also access the White Mount Misery Trail from Pakim Pond. Park at Pakim Pond. There are picnic tables and a picnic shelter, restrooms and lovely views of the pretty pond.
Bike Route (paved): 10.8 miles
The route marked in orange on the map provides an easy loop ride over paved roads. It begins and ends at the forest office. Experience the various habitats of Brendan Byrne State Forest along this easy 10+ mile ride which includes the Cedar Swamp Natural Area, Pakim Pond and the former Cranberry bogs.
Bike Loop Connector Trail (Orange Dashed Blazes): 1.5 miles
Use this easy, wide, hard-packed sand road (see our map) to create shorter loops rides in conjunction with the paved roads. North of the old cranberry bogs the turns off the paved road may not be well-marked, or marked at all.
Batona Trail (Pink Blazes): 10 miles (hiking only)
The Batona Trail is a 50 mile hiking trail that starts at Ong’s Hat at the western end of Brendan Byrne State Forest, travels through Wharton State Forest and ends in Bass River State Forest. 10 miles of the trail lie within Brendan Byrne State Forest, extending from Ong’s Hat, past the Fire Tower and Forest Office to Pakim Pond and eventually leaving the forest at Route 72.
The most popular section of the Batona Trail at Brendan T. Byrne State Forest begins at the trail's northern terminus at Ong's Hat, 1.5 miles northwest of the junction of Routes 70 and 72 and extends for two miles between the ranger station near the intersection of highways 70 and 72, and the camping and picnic area near Pakin Pond along the west side of the preserve. It follows the western border of Cedar Swamp Natural Area, a large swamp filled with a nearly impenetrable growth of American white cedar, and is a refuge for a variety of rare ferns, orchids and insectivorous plants such as the sundew and pitcher plants.
Whitesbog Village, founded in the 1870s was a thriving 19th and 20th-century cranberry and blueberry producing community. Once, one of the largest cranberry farms in the state, the now silent village site is undergoing restoration. Explore the village on a 5-mile auto loop around the system of bogs & blueberry fields, on the Old Bog Nature Trail or on the Whitesbog Tree Trail. It is leased to the Whitesbog Preservation Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of the village.
To reach the village, drive north about 5.75 miles from Four Mile Circle on Route 70 to County Road 530. Turn left, drive about 1 mile and turn right at the Whitesbog Village sign. For more information on the village and events sponsored by the Trust, call (609) 893-4646.
For more information:
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest:
Phone: (609) 726-1191
Whitesbog Preservation Trust