You don’t always have to travel far and wide to find interesting, historic, and beautiful places; often enough some pretty fantastic hidden gems are right here in your own backyard just waiting to be explored! The New Jersey Pine Barrens are one of these gems that you’ve perhaps driven through several times but never stopped to appreciate.
This unique, beautiful, and fascinating ecosystem is actually the largest forested area on the Eastern Seaboard between Maine and the Florida Everglades. Today, and throughout history, humans have depended on the health and vitality of the Pine Barrens’ ecosystems to provide water, clean air and a refuge for rare species of wildlife and plants. We’ll spend our time here exploring the surprising diversity of scenery, habitats, and species within this forested region as we seek out ghost towns with historic sites and legends that tell the story of how past inhabitants have used and depended on this landscape for survival.
We’ll wander into the other worldly beauty of the quiet, pine filled forests where we can take a deep breath of relaxation and appreciate the lovely beauty surrounding us. In the evening we’ll have the sounds of the ocean nearby and a beach to walk along or a comfy spot in which to gaze into the night sky. So why not pack up a few things and let’s get exploring!
Day One: Whitesbog Village
Today we travel south through New Jersey to the gateway of the Pine Barrens, the Whitesbog Historic Farm & Village, a small cranberry and blueberry farming village founded in 1857.
We’ll step back in time as we tour the village and learn its history along with information on cranberry farming, life in a rural South Jersey company town, and the individuals who started and kept the farming operations alive today.
It should be close to cranberry harvest time so we may get to glimpse the wet harvest in progress and see berries floating on the bogs.
Lunch at Pakim Pond:
Let’s hope for a nice weather day to enjoy our included lunch on the edge of the lovely, scenic Pakim Pond in the perfect Pine Barrens setting with a carpet of soft pine needles at your feet and gently swaying pine branches offering shade overhead.
Pakim Pond Trail:
After lunch, take a stroll on the easy flat, sandy trail winding around the pond’s edge to immerse into the perfect nature of the area.
Keep an eye out for carnivorous sundew and pitcher plants and an ear out for breeding frogs.
Long Beach Island:
After our relaxing time in the Pine Barrens nature, we’ll make our way to Long Beach Island for a continued relaxed state along the Atlantic Ocean.
Enjoy the ocean views and take a stroll when you’re hungry to one of the restaurants nearby for dinner on your own.
Day Two: Estell Manor Park
We say goodbye to our ocean view accommodations, but more Pine Barrens nature awaits! Estell Manor Park, once the site of glassworks in the 1800s and later a munitions plant during World War I, is now a reforested area home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals.
Visit the Warren E. Fox Nature Center with exhibits and brochures, then take a stroll into nature on the Swamp Trail Boardwalk, an elevated wooden nature trail that crosses through streams, cedar swamps, coastal forest, ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company, and two areas leading to magnificent views of South River.
After an included lunch at a local spot, we’ll step back into time once more at Batsto Village, a site that has changed and survived through hundreds of years of American history and several thousand years of land use.
We’ll wander through this former bog iron and glassmaking village that includes a gristmill, general store, blacksmith shop, barn complex, sawmill, and workers houses and tour the elegant Italianate Batsto Mansion made great by Philadelphia businessman Joseph Wharton.
It’s then a quick drive north to get back home to your own special part of New Jersey.
Pricing & Departures:
Departs Ridgewood’s Graydon Pool, at the corner of Linwood Ave & Northern Pkwy at 8:00 AM and returns at approximately 7:15 PM
Departs Morristown at 8:45 AM and returns at approximately 6:30 PM
Price per person is $695 Twin & $845 Single. No reservations accepted without a deposit of $150 per person. Make checks payable to Group Tours & Travel and mail to the included address. Final payment is due August 9, 2023. Deposits are fully refundable if cancellation occurs on or before August 9, 2023. There are no refunds if cancellation occurs after August 9, 2023. Travel protection/cancellation coverage is available and highly recommended (approximately 10% of the total cost of the tour) but not included. One piece of luggage per person and one carry-on are permitted. Group Tours is not responsible for any delays, cancellations, injuries or circumstances beyond its control and reserves the right to change this itinerary. All trip components are subject to change in accordance with Government, State and Local guidelines and/or mandates. This tour will run rain or shine.
The Educated Wanderer
Group Tours & Travel
PO Box 632 Berwyn, PA 19312