O' the Pines Trip
If you're planning your first
visit to the Pine Barrens, this route will pass cranberry
and blueberry farms, and includes a visit to Historic Batsto
your day at the intersection of Route 563 and 532 in Chatsworth,
the unofficial "capital of the Pine Barrens" and
the location of the historic Buzby's
Chatsworth General Store (10/2017 ed. note: the shop
is currently closed, waiting for a new owner to continue the
tradition.). The popular Hot
Diggity Dog, a very casual outdoor restaurant, is
just across the street, so if you've a hankering for the best
hot dog outside of Philly, stop and fill up there! If the
United Methodist Church is open, think about a quick
stop to see the beautiful stained-glass windows depicting
nature in the Pines.
The 10,243-acre Franklin
Parker Preserve is located in Chatsworth. at 1450
Route 532. This former cranberry/blueberry farm is now protected
by the NJ Conservation Foundation. It offers miles of trails
through a variety of terrains, a haven for nature lovers.
Parking is provided, but vehicles are not allowed inside the
south on Route 563. After passing through town, and the Ocean
Spray Cranberry Receiving Station on the west side of 563,
you'll enter the village of Speedwell. (There is another entrance
to Franklin Parker Preserve here.) Continuing on, you will
pass the two large cranberry farms, Lee Brothers, and the
state's largest, Pine Island. While the actual harvest takes
place in October, many days will find some activity going
on. There are several great vistas as you drive down the road,
but please keep in mind that these farms are on private property,
and trespassing is illegal!
south about 4 iles, keep to the left at the 679 fork. Just
after passing Harrisville Lake, about 1 1/2 on the left, pull
into the dirt parking area on the right, and look for the
ruins of the Harrisville Paper Mill. The ruins are surrounded
by a 6' chain link fence to prevent vandalism, but a decent
view can still be had. Harrisville
has a colorful past - here's a short
video. Stay on Route 679, turning right on Route 653/542
W. towards Leektown. You'll get a good view of Wetlands as
you cross the bridge over the Wading River.
you're ready for lunch, look for The
Lower Bank Tavern on the right for what's said to be
the best burger around! You can also get a veggie burger, or
grilled chicken breast sandwich, or fish & chips, a Grilled
T-bone or maybe some hot wings - there's plenty to choose from.
You don't need "fancy" for fantastic food! If you've
got kids, there is a dining room separate from the bar area.
Tell owner/chef Billy that PineyPower sent you.
on Route 542 for a scenic drive to Batsto
Historic Village, with numerous panoramic views of
the beautiful and very historic Mullica River on your left
along the way. Batsto Village is located within the Wharton
State Forest, and has great nature trails, including
part of the 50-mile BATONA TRAIL, as well as the beautifully
restored town. Stop in the Welcome Center - it contains a
small museum, and a short movie that runs continuously. The
gift shop also has a lot of interesting information about
the fascinating history of the area. Take a self-guided tour
of the village. (The beautiful mansion is very photogenic,
but it's closed for renovations until further notice.) Don't
miss another photo op at the lumber mill by the dam of the
Batsto Lake. Beyond this are the workers' cottages and Nature
You can end
your day now and head home, but why not make it a mini-vacation
and stay at the
Econo Lodge? (609-561-5700) Continue on Route 542
West, passing huge fields of blueberries! After all, Hammonton
is the Blueberry
Capital of the WORLD! At Route 30, continue west about
a half-mile to the hotel.
Check into your
room, freshen up, then enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
For a special night out, I personally recommend Annata
Wine Bar in downtown Hammonton. The food is excellent,
and there is a huge offering of wines from around the world!
For more casual, but equally delicious fare with an Italian
Townhouse is perfect! Rocco's also has an extensive
craft beer selection and a staff familiar with its offerings
- what could be better?
After checking out of the Econo Lodge, take Route 30 East
to Route 206 North. Continue north on Route 206. You'll pass
Atsion Lake on the left. Immediately after, on the right,
you'll see the Atsion Mansion, which has been restored by
the State of NJ; tours of the mansion are available seasonally
on weekends, but call ahead: (609) 268-0444. Atsion is also
part of Wharton State Forest, and some ruins can still be
seen here. ATSION
a short drive north of Atsion is a local favorite: Pic-A-Lilli
Inn - you can't miss the red fire engine parked in
front of the long, homey building. Inside, you'll be greeted
by a long bar with sports games on (it's a GIANTS bar), but
family dining is welcomed, with a glass fireplace going in
cold weather! Pic's is known for their fantastic wings of
all heat levels, but I also recommend the Loaded Baked Potato
Soup! Staff here is friendly and makes you feel like an old
you'd like to savor your visit to the Pine Barrens via a local
wine, a stop at Valenzano
Winery is a must! It's located a short drive north
on Route 206, and offers tastings and tours. You can't miss
it - the big, beautiful building on the east side of the road.
continue north on Route 206 and home, but if you're hungry
again, stop at SHAMONG DINER- just a moment or two from Valenzano's
on the west side of the road- owner Manny serves a huge variety
of delicious foods, and has a nice Vegan selection! Here's
the menu. Afterwards, stop at the Pine
Barrens Store, right alongside the Diner, for almost
anything you might need!
If you want some
edible souviniers to take hom, head north to Route 532 and
turn right, into the town of Tabernacle, where you'll find
Russo's Farm Market,
brimming with fresh local produce from
Easter through Christmas - and be sure to try the apple cider
donuts! Their produce prices are very reasonable. Whenever
I visit, I'm amazed at how much I can get for so little!
Depending on your
home location, you can continue east back to Chatsworth and
Ocean County, or take Route 206 north to return home.
Area: Route 70 East to Route 72 East. Look for Route 563
on the right; this will take you right into Chatsworth.
Area : Take Route 206 South to Route 70 east to Route
72 east. Look for Route 563 on the right; this will take you
right into Chatsworth.
Jersey: Take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 69
(Waretown) and turn onto Route 532 WEST. Continue about 5
miles; turn RIGHT at Route 72. Continue on, passing the Pygmy
Pine forest. Turn LEFT at Route 532 WEST/Chatsworth and continue
about 4 miles. This will take you right to Buzby's Chatsworth
General Store, located at the intersection of Routes 532 and
Jersey: Take the Garden State Parkway north to Exit 58;
turn onto Route 539 NORTH. At Route 72 intersection, turn
LEFT/West; Continue on, passing the Pygmy Pine forest; turn
LEFT at Route 532 WEST/Chatsworth and continue about 4 miles.
This will take you right to Buzby's Chatsworth General Store,
located at the intersection of Routes 532 and 563.
to CHATSWORTH (Starting point)
From New York
City: 103 miles - about 2 hours 3 minutes
39 miles - about 1 hour
131 mi – about 2 hours 35 mins
From Long Beach
Island, NJ - 24.9 mi – about 40 mins
City, NJ- 49.3 mi – about 59 mins
From Cape May,
NJ: 80.3 mi – 80.3 mi – about 1 hour 31 mins
From Albany, NY
- 245 mi – about 4 hours 10 mins
From Boston, MASS
- 306 mi – about 5 hours 39 mins