Batona Trail Loop towards Apple Pie Hill


Dec 31, 1969
I recently plotted and hiked a loop on the Batona Trail, starting across Carranza Road, near the Memorial, and partway up Apple Pie Hill.

Based on information from the Batona Trail map, the Wharton State Forest map, and a topo map, I turned right onto a sand road after the Batona Trail climbs abruptly shortly after is stops running along the Skit Branch. The walk past the Batona Camp has the best scenery I've seen along the Batona Trail. Stands of pitch pine and cedars line up right behind one another. The trails crosses streams a few times in a short distance before there's a net rise in elevation, and in places the trail runs right alongside cedar swamps. Even after the past snow and rain the area's had, the trail is relatively dry, with no impassible points.

The sand road is another story. Once I started heading downhill on the sand road, I came across areas where water, in some spots frozen, in others with thin ice or chunks of ice, where I had to bushwack through the brush on the sides of the roads. There were about half a dozen spots like this -- in some areas the partially frozen ponds stretched about the length of a football field, some with short walkable gaps inbetween the ponds.

I had planned to take the sand road down to the abandoned Central New Jersey Railroad Tracks. I had mulled over all the maps the night before until I had the route clear in my head, and a surefire plan. So I thought. I thought the railroad tracks would be clearly visible if I followed the main sand road downhill, at some point after crossing a sand road intersection. Well, I headed downhill, crossed the intersection, but ended up back at the Batona Trail. I remember seeing a sand road carpeted heavily with pine needles and colonized with vegetation, with the view ahead obscured. I realize now that that may have been the path to the RR tracks.

When I got to the Batona Trail, for some reason I started going the wrong way. I thought that I shouldn't follow the trail where the land seemed to rise. I came to a bridge over a stream that I thought I had already crossed. For some reason, I returned to the sand road and continued in the direction I had taken before getting back on the Batona Trail. I walked for quite a distance, navigating around more partially frozen ponds that stretched across the sand road. After walking more than a half hour, I turned back. I realized after consulting a map when I got back home that I was actually heading back up Apple Pie Hill. Evidently, my head was in a dark place.

When I returned to the spot where the Batona Trail and the sand road met, where a stream, that paralled ran under a bridge, I stopped to look at which way the water is flowing. I reasoned, rightly so, that if I followed the water downstream, I'd get back to Carranza Road. The land can fool you, as it did once when I was trying to find the Basto River walking from a sand road and the Batona Trail near Lower Forge Camp. At one point the land rises between the path I was on and the Batona River. Reasoning the land generally goes down as you go towards a river, I missed my turn. I later somehow found the river and camp area.

The Batona Trail was well marked where I followed it, except for a small area around the Batona Camp, which was a little tricky, but I managed OK. I ended up walking a bit further than I had planned, but trail and error is sometimes the way we end up learning.