Atsion Recreation Area and Batsto Village
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:714 Route 206, Shamong, NJ
Hours:Atsion: park open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, April 1 to October 31; swimming permitted from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Batsto: visitor center open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, year-round
Fee: Atsion: Memorial Day to Labor Day, residents: $5 per car on weekdays, $10 per car on weekends; nonresidents: $10 per car on weekdays, $20 per car on weekends; all times, walk-in/bicycle, $2.
Bathrooms: Restrooms with changing rooms and showers are at the main building at Atsion
Water/Snacks: Water fountain and concession stand at main building at Atsion
Map: (click on Wharton State Forest)

Swim or paddle in a deep lake near the restored iron-making village of Batsto.

Atsion Recreation Area and Batsto Village
Photo by: Susan Charkes

Atsion Recreation Area in Wharton State Forest is a pleasant lake that offers young families opportunities for swimming, hiking, boating, and fishing. It can also be used as a base for exploring other locations in the state forest to enjoy the Pine Barrens.

Wharton is the largest single tract of land in the New Jersey state park system. With its extensive forest, as well as ponds, streams, cedar swamps, and bogs, it is a haven for wildlife. Many miles of trails wind through the forest, including the 50-mile Batona Trail, and its rivers are excellent for paddling. 

Atsion Lake is on the Mullica River, set in a quiet pine and oak woods. The tea-brown waters of the Mullica, tinted by iron in the soil and by cedar bark, give this deep lake an interesting color (and may dye swimwear!). The lake has a swimming beach with lifeguards. A bathhouse has showers and changing facilities, and canoe and kayak rentals are available. Two connected loop hiking trails—0.5 mile and 1 mile in length—begin at the parking lot and follow the south shore of the lake. Campsites with showers are on the north shore of the lake in the Atsion Family Campground. There are also a playground and a picnic area with grills.

In nearby Batsto Village, the site of a former bog-iron and glass-making industrial center, is now a restored village where visitors can discover the industrial and cultural history of the Pine Barrens. Children will enjoy the variety of buildings in the village, such as a blacksmith, piggery, sawmill, wheelwright, and general store. See for details on visiting the site.

At Batsto you will also find the Mullica River Trail, a level, easy but long (7 miles) trail, which leads through the pine woods along sandy paths by the river. For young children, start with a short nature walk on the part of the trail that is closest to Batsto. Interpretive signs describe the unique Pine Barrens ecosystem.

Remember: Swimming is allowed only while lifeguards are on duty. No dogs are permitted in the swimming area. In summer, Atsion will be closed to visitors if it reaches maximum capacity, which is not uncommon. Call before setting out.

Plan B:

For a more challenging Wharton State Forest trip, paddle one of its rivers: the Mullica, Batsto, Wading, or Oswego.

Where to Eat Nearby:

If not buying snacks at the concession stand, bring a picnic.


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