Brendan T. Byrne State Forest/Pakim Pond
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:Mile Marker 1, NJ Route 72 East, Woodland Township, NJ
Hours:Grounds open sunrise to sunset daily; office open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday
Fee: Grounds, free; fee charged for camping
Bathrooms: At park office (when open); seasonal restrooms at Pakim Pond lot
Water/Snacks: Water fountain by Pakim Pond
Map: (click on Brendan-Bryne-Lebanon)

Walk through a quiet, flat pine forest to a pond surrounded by unusual carnivorous plants.

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest/Pakim Pond
Photo by: Dan Bengal

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, formerly Lebanon State Forest, extends over 36,647 acres in the Pine Barrens. More than 25 miles of sandy, flat trails wind through deep pine forests that harbor an amazing variety of birds, as well as amphibians and plants. In natural bogs you’ll see the native cranberry, forebear of the commercial berry that is cultivated in large bogs visible from the road.

Pakim Pond is an easy introduction to the vast forest. A 1-mile trail to and around the pond starts near the pond parking area. The pond can also be reached by a walk on the 2.7-mile Cranberry Trail from the park office through the quiet pine forest; this level, hard-sand surface trail is suitable for older children. The beginning section of Cranberry Trail is paved and wheelchair-accessible. The flat trails are excellent for skiing or snowshoeing in snowy winters.

The pond is a tea-brown color, typical of ponds and streams in the Pine Barrens, derived from cedar bark and iron in the soil. Around the pond you’ll see some of the unusual plants of the region, such as the carnivorous sundew and pitcher plants; in spring the pond hosts breeding frogs and salamanders. A covered picnic area here has lovely views of the pond. If you bring your own kayak or canoe, you can paddle around the pond.

The pink-blazed, 50-mile Batona Trail passes through the forest at Pakim Pond. This long-distance Pine Barrens trail has several primitive campsites along its length. Other trails in the forest connect to the Batona Trail for longer loop hikes. A paved 10-mile loop is open to bikes and is suitable for kids of all abilities. For mountain bikes, Mount Misery Trail, reached via Cranberry Trail, is on sand tracks through the forest.

Eighty-two tent campsites (some pet-friendly) are available at the state forest campground east of Pakim Pond on Coopers Road. A playground is at the campground.

Remember: The best time to visit the Pine Barrens is spring, winter, or fall, when the insect population is lower than in summer. Always do a thorough tick check after your visit.

Plan B:

Whitesbog Village, in Brendan Byrne State Forest, features an oldtime general store (open weekends), as well as self-guided tours of blueberry fields and cranberry bogs, and 18 miles of trails.

Where to Eat Nearby:

It’s best to bring a picnic.


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