Wharton State Forest is the largest single tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System. It is also the site of Batsto Village, a former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867 that currently reflects the agricultural and commercial enterprises that existed here during the late 19th century. Throughout Wharton are rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails (including a major section of the Batona Trail), miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking and horseback riding and numerous lakes, ponds and fields ideal for wildlife observation. Bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, marsh hawks, ospreys, great blue herons, swans, screech owls, great-horned owls, bluebirds, hummingbirds, purple martins, goldfinch, turkeys, beavers, river otters, fox and deer are only some of the wildlife the alert visitor can see.
The Batsto Lake White Trail (White blaze/marker) is about 4 miles start to finish. The trail is shared with the Batsto Lake Blue Trail (Blue blaze/marker) and the Batona Trail (Pink blaze/marker) for parts of its length.
I've enjoyed the use of this path through the woods for trail running. Easy on the legs yet a good workout.
Be careful when you park because our gps brought us to a sand path in the middle of the woods. Luckily we did not get stuck but another group of hikers did. Not exactly kid friendly. The watch tower is filled in with graffiti and curse words. But awesome view from the top if you are brave enough to walk up!!
A lot to offer here. My girlfriend and I made a day trip here last summer. Only downfall was how hot it was but luckily we were prepared. We decided to hit up a trail that was 50 miles long. We didn't do the whole thing but were able to complete about a 10 mile all-around hike. We ventured through the trail until it became a very narrow trail. There was a downed tree blocking part of it about 7 miles in. We could tell no one had been on it for a while. Regardless it was a fun time.
Park your car on one of the PAVED roads leading into this area! Unless you have a jeep with excellent off road tires and lots of clearance don't even attempt to drive the roads to the tower.
That being said; having done most of my hiking on more woodsy and mountain trains, this was an interesting change. Flat, Soft, needle covered trails that snake through the Jersey Pine Barrens. Basically blueberry bushes and the Jersey Pines the whole lengthy of the hike. The most difficult part of the hike was the walk on the very soft and sandy road leading to the trail. If you've never hiked the Pine Barrens: you should try it for the change of scenery.
This is the main State P & F site for both History and Hiking. Large visitors' center, huge 19th c. summer home of the Wharton family and a wide variety of trails to explore. I've been going there since the late 1940's and have yet to explore all the trails.