Sunday, March 12, 2017

Brendan Byrne State Forest, NJ - Northern End Batona Trail: Ongs Hat to Route 70

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

GPS Coordinates 39.91140, -74.62039
Parking lot at the northern terminus of the Batona Trail.

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest Trail Map - NJ Division of Parks and Forests
Powered by Wikiloc

HIKE DISTANCE:  7.1 miles

To start the hike, walk towards Route 72 following the pink blazes.
Just before Route 72 the trail heads into the woods ...
... then away from Route 72.
And there is my first balloon of the day, #18 of the year.
She waits so patiently while I retrieve balloons.
The trail crosses over several sand roads.
The trail gets a little too narrow for the wheelchair in places.
The trail turns right on the second sand road and follows it for a short distance.  That sand road would end up being our return route.
Easy going for the wheelchair here.
The Batona Trail leaves the sand road.  Returning we would be coming on to this sand road from a pine needle covered wider path to the right of the Batona Trail.  But on the way out, the Batona Trail was our route.
Because it was so narrow, I had already decided we would not do an out-and-back on the Batona Trail but would use the wider sand roads to return.
Another deciding factor was the quantity of trees down across the trail.  Some she could get around and others I had to lift her over - exhausting for both of us.  I also pulled those that I could off of the trail but there were many that would not budge.
A stretch of wider trail.
Crossing 4-Mile Road (Route 646).
She can get over the little ones on her own although she still tries to jump.
Vertical blow downs present somewhat of a problem and that requires my assistance.
And this is the "You must come help I am stuck on a sapling" look.
Crossing Deep Hollow Road.
The next sand road where the Batona Trail follows along for a short distance is Turkey Buzzard Bridge Road, the same sand road the parking lot is on.  The map does not show this.
The trail then follows a ledge, supposedly following Bisphams Mill Creek although I could never see a creek down below.
The creek is supposed to be down to the left somewhere.
The trail turns left on Deep Hollow Road and this part is now paved with quite a bit of traffic - when we crossed it earlier it was a quiet sand road.
A short distance ahead just before the trail leaves the road to the right, a sand path leads to ...
Deep Hollow Pond, which was nothing more than a mud puddle.  Now it makes sense why there was no creek!
A short side trail from the pond put us back on the Batona Trail.
There are lots of dirt bike tracks from this point on but we never encountered any on this stretch.
When the Batona Trail crosses a power cut, we left the trail and turned right in the power cut.  Had we stayed on the Batona Trail we would have had to cross Route 70 and by the sound of it, there was way too much traffic to safely do that with the wheelchair so it was either retrace from this point or investigate some unmarked options.
Here is were I found the second balloon of the day, #19 for the year.
After this fence which is the town maintenance building, the sand road becomes paved in the power cut.
This goes all the way to Route 646 where we crossed and continued straight on the sand road which is Shinns Road.
It's not bad walking on this - it's hard packed sand, no car passed and Route 72 traffic noise was not bad at all.
Coming up on an intersection about half way along Shinns Road back to the car, I noticed a red pickup truck approaching slowly on the other side of the blow down.  Walking past that truck on a remote sand road was out of my comfort zone so I turned right, hoping to find an alternate way although there was noting on the map.
A short distance ahead, a fork to the left, not on the map but in the direction I wanted to go.
A little farther along, left at another fork.  When I looked at my GPS this was on that map and it did lead back to where I had crossed on the Batona Trail.
This turned out to be a much better way. A peaceful, wide pine needle covered trail with no tire tracks and no blow downs.
It was perfect!
Meeting back up with the Batona Trail where it comes in from the right and turns left on Turkey Buzzard Bridge Road.
When the Batona Trail left the sand road, we stayed on the road and it took us straight back...
... to the parking lot.


  1. Nice job on this one! Wow -- let's's been almost 7 years since I did this stretch. (Actually, I did the Batona only, a 5-mile out-and-back from Brendan T. Byrne Park Office to the end at Ong's Hat (where you started.) I can understand why you didn't want to do the Batona the whole way -- the blow-downs looked horrible (well, more for Shawnee than human hikers!) At least you were able to explore alternate routes -- perhaps I need to start using GPS on my hikes as well.

    Deep Hollow Pond was sort of a let-down; I guess it's been so dry this winter overall. (Yes, I believe that may change after tomorrow's Nor'easter/blizzard! :)

    At least Shawnee looked determined to get past all the blow-downs -- she continues to be quite the trooper! If you return to Deep Hollow Pond in late spring/early summer, perhaps the pond would be a little more full, and Shawnee would surely want to take a dip in it!

    Well -- hopefully, the snow won't affect your adventure for next week...I'm guessing you will probably head to South Jersey yet again! Maybe Belleplain State Forest?? I'm sure Lake Nummy still has some water in it...always provides for great pictures!

    Great job as always, and I look forward to your next adventure!

    -- Jim

    1. Thanks Jim! Yes, will definitely have to head south this coming weekend. At first I thought I might have to go as far as Cape May but now that this blizzard has shifted north, looks like nothing below Toms River is getting snow. That certainly gives more options!

  2. Always enjoy your hike. It's vicarious pleasure for an old disabled guy. I just wanted you to know that you and Shawnee have an appreciative audience.

    1. Thank you! So nice of you to let me know.