Sunday, March 26, 2017

Brendan Byrne State Forest, NJ - Green Trail

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest - NJ Department of Environmental Protection

GPS Coordinates 39.87176, -74.52112
The coordinates are to the parking on the right at the restroom building.  I ended up parking farther up on the left having driven there in search of the green trail, which I found just beyond that parking area.

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest Trail Map - NJ Division of Parks and Forests
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Although we attempted the green trail, what is highlighted in yellow is the route we ended up with.

HIKE DISTANCE:  6.75 miles

I had intended to continue on the Batona Trail in Franklin Parker Preserve, starting from where we left off last week by parking along Tabernacle-Chatsworth Road and taking a sand road half a mile to the Batona Trail exactly where we had turned.  But this is what I saw when I pulled up to that gated sand road.
Just beyond this sign are Franklin Parker Preserve signs so I will have to contact the NJ Conservation Foundation to see what that is all about.  Maybe I can get permission to access? For now, on to Plan B (and I always bring along a backup plan).
This is the green trail sign I found beyond the restroom building so we started there, not quite knowing what this specific point was on the map with a fork up ahead.  Given two options I almost always guess wrong but opted to stay left which turned out to be the way to go.  Straight would have taken me to Route 72 and turned out not to be part of the green trail but there are no further signs or markers.  At least for a while.
Looking back at the parking area from where we started.
It's a looooooong sand road, not quite sure yet if we were in the right place or not.
Either way, it was meant to be since there was a balloon waiting for me.
Shawnee looks pleased with this find.
Up ahead some puddles and a fork.
But first, hacking through thorns to snag another balloon.
At the fork, opted to to right and get off of the boring sand road on to more of a trail.
And look here, some old blue/green/yellow paint blazes.  Could this be the green trail? Turns out it was. 
They look surprised to see us.  Not too many visitors in these parts I would imagine.
There are actually quite a few old paint blazes along this path.
Uh oh.  This would be crossing Cooper Branch but that water looked nasty and the path appeared to be overgrown with thorns on the other side.  Best to backtrack, so we did.
Thank goodness we had to turn around because I missed this one.
And this one.
Back at where we left the sand road, turning right to continue on that road.
A path to the left, let's see where that takes us.
It was a short unmarked connector that took us back to the green (green/yellow/blue) trail!  A right turn would have taken us around the green loop ending back up at the Cooper Branch crossing, which I did not want to do, so we turned left.
And yes, yet another.
Going in the opposite direction I noticed these posts.
It was at this point where the green trail turns right and joins a paved road for a short distance, that I was able to pinpoint where we were on the map.
Looking back, an arrow pointing to the path we just came off of.
And where the trail leaves the paved road ...
Wonder what this is all about.
My guess would be some kind of equestrian thing based on all of the hoof prints in the sand.  (As Dom commented below, it was for the Rabbit Run Endurance Ride being held that day but we never ran into any horses.)
White joins in and this is very well-blazed.
White blazes along with the old green blazes.
Here green leaves white on a sand road when white continues straight ahead.  White looked so much more inviting than a boring sand road so we aborted green and continued on white.
Much better than a sand road.
A break spot up ahead.
The plaque on the bench - that is exactly what we had been doing on this hike.  Then I Googled and found the obit.  One of the surnames mentioned is one letter different than my maiden name and he graduated from Villanova University, as did my son.  So many similarities!
Have to watch closely on these narrow bridges so the wheels don't go off.
This trail follows along Pakim Pond.  I don't think we have ever seen Pakim Pond like this - every time we have hiked here it was frozen over.
Today it was a hot 75 degrees so that called for a dip it the water.
Lots of busy beavers around here.
When the ground is dry and there is space, just easier to avoid this altogether.
But when there is not enough room to go next to it, have to hold the wheels up.
Ugh.  Another balloon but can't get to it on the other side of the swamp.
Looking up Pakim Pond from the end.
This would be what those beavers are building.
All that work and this tree fell the wrong way and got hung up in other trees.
We could have turned left here and headed straight back to the campground where we parked but no thank you, we'll go the long way around.
Continuing on the Batona Trail. 
A reprieve from the sand road while the trail runs parallel...
... but when it crosses over the paved road, we had to turn left and leave the Batona Trail.
Shawnee has been able to hike without her booties the past several hikes because she hasn't been knuckling that badly and it didn't matter on sand/pine needle trails.  But on pavement, she'll rip the tops of her toes up in no time so booties it is.
Oh, a path to the right!  We were OK on mileage so diverted this way to see of this could bypass the paved road.
It actually narrowed into dirt bike trails and we kept left in the direction of the campground.
This comes out on a sand road where we turned left.
The first I have seen this year in addition to the first tick I found crawling on my arm a little earlier.
Back on the paved road although this did cut off a good section of it.
Got off of those dirt bike trails just in time.  I have learned to hold my breath when they go by.  The exhaust is noxious and lingers.  I don't understand what the allure is.  Go hiking instead, it's much cleaner and quieter!
Up ahead at the intersection where we turn right back to parking, I saw another green trail post.
So this section of road from that post to where we started up ahead is actually part of the green trail.  It's very confusing, not easy to follow with parts with no blazes or signs, and is apparently not used other than by dirt bikes while serving as a Mylar balloon landing pad. So this was our partially successful attempt at the green trail.
For this hike, 6 balloons packed out bringing the total for the year to 26.