Another Batona Trail Loop


Dec 31, 1969
Yesterday I took a snow covered hike in Lebanon State Forest along the Batona Trail. Not wanting to just turn around, or hike the rest of the trail's 49.5 miles, I tried doing a loop.

From the office at Lebanon State Forest, a short connecting trail leads to the Batona Trail. When you reach it, turn right and head towards the fire tower and Ong's Hat, turn left you head towards Pakim Pond and Bass River State Forest. After hiking roughly a mile, I took an unpaved road that crossed the paved Shinns Road and led to the Forest's Cranberry Trail, very wide and handicapped accessible. I had two maps with me -- the Lebanon State Forest general map and it's trail map.

At one point along the Cranberry Trail, I turned left, and soon came upon a sign that read OFFICE 1 MILES. I saw another sign the other direction that read PAKIM POND 2 MILES. After the sign for the office the trail split. I kept going straight. After awhile I came to another split in the trail. In front of me was a paved road, and to the right was a trail. Across the street were some red markers (the Cranberry Trail is red) that indicated the trail ran along the road and there were other red markings facing you as you cross the road. I decided to go back across the street and follow the trail, that had no markings. After following it for awhile, it seemed like I had gone more than a mile since the sign for the office. The trail got increasingly further from the paved road, and I thought I'd never find a path to the office. I turned around and returned to the point where the trail reached the paved road. I walked up a road (couldn't tell for sure if it was paved or unpaved with the snow cover), thinking the office was close. I returned to the paved road and walked both directions for awhile. Then, as the sun was setting, I decided to just retrace my route. Sometime after I got home, I emailed the New Jersey Forest Service to suggest it put a sign indicating the direction if the office across the road from that point where the Cranberry Trail reaches the road then turns (I wasn't sure at the time if it was the Cranberry Trail that continued paralleling the road).

I managed to find my route back along the Cranberry Trail. A small trail intersected the trail as I walked straight from the road. I followed it a little while and realized it's not where I should be. I found a wider trail a little past that point, which took me to the conspicuous Cranberry Trail signage where it meets the unpaved road. I followed the unpaved road to the paved road. I knew then that the Batona Trail was a little further on the other side of the road, but I would have trouble finding it in the dark, even with illumination from the snow. Knowing the paved road ran alongside the Batona Trail, I followed it, and wella! - I saw the lights of the Holy Grail and found my car. It was about 4:45 p.m.when I saw the 1 MILE TO OFFICE sign, which would have got me back right around sunset, as I had planned. But I didn't reach my car until about 6:30 p.m.!