Off-Roading has become increasingly
popular in NJ's Pine Barrens. Wharton
State Forest alone has over 500 miles of unpaved roads in
its hundred thousand-plus acres of forests! There are a few important
things to know before going out, especially if you're new to the
area! True "off-roading" is illegal within Wharton and
other State-owned forests; you must stay on the designated roads,
whether they're paved, sugar-sand or gravelled. SEE
Your vehicle must be "street
legal". This means that it's properly licensed, registered
and insured to operate on public roadways, you are permitted
to drive it on the designated
public roads within State property, whether they are paved,
gravel or sand. It is strongly recommended you have a 4WD vehicle,
though not mandatory. All-terrain vehicles (ATV's) are PROHIBITED.
Speed limit is 20 MPH on all roads. Page 2 of this
map outlines some excellent advice for driving in the Pinelands.
Do NOT stray from the designated
roadways. Aside from the obvious pitfalls, such as getting lost,
these forests are environmentally and historically sensitive; you
may inadvertently damage or kill plants or animals, or destroy historical
artifacts. Stop at one of the forest offices, either at Batsto
or Atsion, and pick up a brochure with a basic map of the
sand roads, natural areas, campgrounds, etc.
Do not rely on your GPS, as it is
not always accurate if you get lost, which is very easy to do. Also,
do not rely on certain Internet map searches, as some services indicate
roads as paved when they are not. Some services also indicate roads
where there are none. Also, cell phones may not work in some areas.
After rain or snow, large puddles
are common in the Pine Barrens. While some roads have "go-rounds"
where puddles often form, many less travelled roads do not. Don't
try to drive through the puddles! They may be deep, and it's easy
to get stuck. Unless you have a winch (and be sure to use a tree-saver),
you'll be stuck until someone finds you! Better yet, don't drive
Forest Rangers patrol the roads daily
between 9AM and 4PM, during regular office hours. If you get lost
or stuck during the day, you can call the Wharton office 609-561-0024
(if you have phone service!). They can arrange a tow from a private
company - AT YOUR EXPENSE - they do not perform this service.
Stay off private roads, driveways,
and gated areas. If a road is marked PRIVATE, that means it's
privately owned and you will be trespassing. If a gate is across
a public road, it's because you must not go beyond that point. It
does not mean you can drive into the wooded area, around the gate,
and continue on. It means STAY OUT. These gates are placed
for numerous reasons, and it's often for the safety of the vehicle
and/or driver. If you are found driving in an illegal area, you
WILL BE TICKETED.
Remember that you're sharing the
roads with other "off-roaders" (some coming from the other
direction on rather narrow roads), hikers, bikers, hunters, campers,
equestrians, and yes, even active environmentalists. PLEASE use
common sense - don't speed, keep to the right, and PLEASE DON'T
LITTER. In this way everyone can enjoy the beauty that the NJ Pine
Barrens has to offer.