October is Pinelands Appreciation Month and we visited Batsto Village and Edith Wharton State Forest to celebrate. This is a gorgeous time of year to hike and see the deciduous trees change colors but even a forest of mainly evergreens is lovely in the fall.
Batsto Village is a New Jersey historic site located in the Wharton State Forest which is also part of the South Central Pinelands. Batsto Village can be traced back to 1766. Batsto was a company town and as Batsto Iron and Glass Works grew so did the village.
During the iron making and glass making periods at Batsto Village, there were hundreds of people working and living in the village. They needed homes in which to live. They also had a sawmill, gristmill, corncrib and grain storage. There was also a general store, a blacksmith and a wheelwright. Eventually, a post office helped to speed communication between Batsto and other towns.
After walking through the village, we walked some of the miles and miles of trails that begin in the surrounding forests.
It was nice and shady along the trail and we only ran into a few people here and there. It was mostly sandy trails with sometimes a gravel area. A couple of the bridges over streams were out on the Yellow Trail but detour signs were clearly posted along the trails.
NJ’s Pinelands are also called Pine Barrens. Its official name is the Pinelands National Reserve and it was created by the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. It’s approximately 1.1 million acres encompassing portions of seven counties. The slightly smaller state-designated Pinelands Area, created by the New Jersey Pinelands Protection Act of 1979, encompasses 938,000 acres which is 19 percent of the total area of New Jersey!
The region features some of the largest unbroken tracts of forest in the eastern U.S. Some unique ecological features are the acidic and nutrient-poor stream systems fed by the shallow, underlying aquifer. The Pinelands lie above the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, which contains an estimated 17.7 trillion gallons. It’s home to many rare and unusual plants and animals, including 43 threatened or endangered animal species. The colorful Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii), a species widely associated with the unique natural history
of the Pinelands, is found in very few places outside of the Pinelands.
Botanists are also interested in the Pinelands’ unique native flora, including 27 wild orchid species and several insectivorous plant species. 92 threatened and endangered plant species known to occurred in the Pinelands are protected under the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. Plants like Knieskern’s Beaked Rush (Rhynchospora knieskernii), Pickering’s Morning Glory (Breweria pickeringii var. caesariensis) and the Bog Asphodel
(Narthecium americanum) are currently found nowhere outside of the Pinelands. The 15,000-acre Pine Plains are the most extensive pygmy forest of its type in the country. Isn’t the Pine Barrens cool?
Check out all the pictures from our visit to Batsto Village and Wharton State Forest:
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