Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wharton State Forest, NJ - Batona Trail from Carranza Memorial to Apple Pie Hill

Wharton State Forest - NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Batona Trail - Wikipedia

GPS Coordinates for Carranza Memorial 39.777377, -74.632504

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It isn't very clear exactly where to park - no signs at all - but there is ample space and I would guess as long as nothing is blocked, you can park.

Batona Trail Guide - NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Wharton State Forest, NJ - Batona Trail Caranza Memorial to Apple Pie Hill at EveryTrail

HIKE DISTANCE:  8.55 miles

I had parked close to Carranza Road next to the memorial.
From there it is very unclear exactly where to pick up the pink-blazed Batona Trail.  Going out the back side of the memorial there is a red-blazed horse trail so I took that to the left ...
... and ran into a junction with the pink-blazed Batona Trail and turned left.  This added some mileage since there is a shorter way but that was not clear until the end of the hike.
The Batona Trail crosses over Carranza Road.
The trail merges with the sand road to Batona Camp.
It was in the 20's and somebody was camping.  Brrrrr.
A beaver lodge in Skit Branch.
Skit Branch
The trail crosses a bridge over Skit Branch on a sand road before leaving the road to the right.
Skit Branch from the road bridge.
From this point the trail goes into the woods and is no longer running near the sand road.
This hike was done on a day when North Jersey was encased in frozen snow and ice from multiple snow storms.  How nice to find a snow-and-ice-free hiking trail!
The trail is fairly well blazed but there are sections where blazes seem to be missing - they are mostly there, just very old and fading away.
Three sturdy bridges cross over wet areas.
Very little of the blaze left.
The fire tower at Apple Pie Hill.
This "open concept" fire tower just wasn't going to work for me - I had no doubt I was not going to make it very far up.
Made it to the second level and that was that.  You can supposedly see the Atlantic City and Philadephia skylines but since I did not get high enough, you'll have to go see for yourself.
What I could see from the second level - lots green in the dead of winter.
We found ourselves a broken glass-free spot on Apple Pie Hill and took a break before heading back.
Someone snacked on a pine cone.
Pretty ice patterns in Skit Branch.

[  0.00]  From the Carranza Memorial, go through the break in the fence at the back side and veer left towards the red-blazed trail
[  0.35]  At intersection with pink, turn left on pink
[  0.45]  Cross Carranza Road
[  0.60]  Pink continues right on sand road
[  0.80]  Batona Camp; continue following pink to the right
[  1.60]  Cross bridge on sand road then turn right leaving road just after bridge
[  2.35]  Keep right at fork (not blazed)
[  3.10]  Up and over distinct hill
[  3.25]  Cross sand road
[  3.75]  Cross sand road then several fire breaks
[  4.25]  Cross sand road then ascend Apple Pie Hill
[  4.50]  Apple Pie Hill fire tower; retrace
[  5.85]  Up and over distinct hill
[  6.60]  Beginning of the 3 boardwalks
[  7.35]  Trail comes out on sand road and crosses bridge to left
[  8.10]  Batona Camp
[  8.35]  Keep straight on sand road when pink goes left
[  8.45]  Cross Carranza Road; look for footpath to the right to the memorial then proceed to parking
[  8.55]  Back at parking


  1. Lovely. I haven't been to Wharton yet- would like to get a few flights up on that Fire Tower and see the view- but like you- not too high!!

    1. You just be sure and let me know what it looks like from up there, k? I have actually made it to the 4th level of some fire towers (and scooted back down on my behind - yup, a big chicken I am) but not this one - there is NOTHING, I mean NOTHING on the sides, the steps are see-through, YIKES!


    2. Glad you were able to find a "no-snow-zone" for hiking. Barring a freak weather pattern, the Barrens are usually a good bet for that when other areas are still covered in white. Totally hear you about the open-concept tower. Heights and I have never been on close terms. Oddly, I can hike to cliff overlooks, yet balk when it comes to tower climbing. Go figure.

    3. Well, Linda, that freak weather pattern just might be a comin'. Me thinks there will be no place left to hike come this weekend :( Same with me with heights, although I have been know to hang onto a tree for dear life at cliff overlooks. I am pretty pathetic when it comes to that.


  2. We hiked at Wharton in the fall. Nice flat, easy trails. There was one thing we didn't like - when we were there, there would be cars driving on some of the trails. And people 4 wheeling in the park. Just made it harder to have our dogs off leash.

    1. This is one of the reasons I only go there in the dead of winter - not another soul around and I have yet to come across cars on the trails in the winter. That does not make for pleasant hiking.


  3. We tried doing this hike today. We were driving down Carranza Road near the start of the hike, and saw a knocked over sign saying "planned fire burn" or something of the sort. We continued driving, but reached emergency vehicles and smoke complete clouding the road. We had to turn around. We had one of our NJ hiking books with us, and ended up driving another hour to Island Beach State Park. It was a very windy day, and we actually saw a huge cloud of smoke in the sky from the beach - we were wondering if it was related to the fire in the pine barrens.
    The beach hike had some 4x4's on the beach (I still don't get this), but otherwise was great. No snow, sunny skies, 60 degrees. The dogs had a blast.

    1. I heard there was a prescribed burn down south yesterday but I didn't know it was there. Don't know that Island Beach State Park would be much better - car exhaust/smoke - tough choice! But considering the wind yesterday, the beach would have been better. Since I had a huge branch crash down just feet from me recently, I am a little hesitant to be in the woods on really windy days.


  4. Is there a loop to do here? The trail data website you use must be down as it's not showing a map.

    1. EveryTrail has become very unreliable so I am switching to a different one but I no longer have that track. Based on the hike summary it is a linear hike and I do not recall there being a loop option or I would have certainly done it.