Last weekend, the family and I visited Batsto Village. We were short on time, so we didn’t get to explore the hiking trails. I’ve been itching to go back all week!
Luckily, we were graced with some amazing weather this weekend. I was comfortable outside in just a light weight, long sleeve shirt. That meant we could squeeze in at least one more hiking trip this year! We headed back to Wharton State Forest with Megan, Dave, and Charlie. Daniel had to work, so he did not accompany us. Sometimes I hate his work schedule.
Megan had never been to Batsto Village. That meant we had an excuse to walk around a bit before heading off into the Pines. I didn’t snap any photos of the village itself, because I took so many last time. Well, I lied. I did take a few of the lake. Last time we were there, it was windy. Yesterday, everything was still. The water was like glass, so pretty!
Soon, though, we were heading into the forest!
We walked the Orange Tom’s Pond Trail and the Blue Batsto Lake Trail. Both are 1.8 miles long and clearly marked. We were VERY impressed with how well they were marked. Sometimes it’s easy to get turned around on trails. These both had markers close enough together that we could spot the next one as soon as we reached one. This is good for someone with no sense of direction….. like me.
The Orange Trail was easy, a pine needle covered flat trail. It wound it’s way through sections of pine forest and wetlands, staying along the stream for most of the trip.
The Blue Batsto Lake Trail was a little more challenging. There were some areas of elevation changes that were a bit steep. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle, though. It traveled along the lake for a while before veering off into a wooded area. The scenery was amazing!! Although the ‘scenic overlook’ left much to be desired.
The Pine Barrens is a one of a kind ecosystem. Back in prehistoric times, it was completely underwater. This caused the area soil to be sandy, acidic, and very nutrient poor. Not many things grow there, but the things that do are pretty awesome. Along the trails, we saw many of the things that make the area so unique.
First is the fires. Many of the plants depend on fires to reproduce and grow, specifically the Pitch Pine. From what I understand, they do controlled burns regularly to conserve the ecosystem.
The area has a high population of cedar trees along its waterlines. The cedar roots dye the water like tea. It makes the water so dark; it’s almost impossible to see more than a few inches into the water. I can’t even describe how creepy this is. My imagination keeps telling me things that may live under that water. EEP!
One of the coolest things, in my opinion, is that the nutrient poor soil makes it an ideal place for carnivorous plants to grow.
After we were finished hiking, we sat on the grassy area beside the parking lot for an hour or so. Charlie had been in her carrier the whole time and was itching to run! She had fun chasing Spike and playing with Trinity. Megan, Dave, and I had a nice time talking and re-hydrating while they played.
Trinity was sad that we failed to spot the Jersey Devil this time as well. Although, she did say that, because he is nocturnal, she was not expecting to see him. We did spot some very large horse tracks. We didn’t think anything of it until we realized that horses were not permitted on the Orange Trail. Trinity insists that they have to be Jersey Devil tracks. He does have horse-like legs. You never know!
We’re pretty excited to head back to the Pine barrens at some point in the spring. There are many State Forests in the area, which means there are many more areas to explore!