Penn Branch Mountain Bike Trail

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
2,551
587
1,093
Last summer we did allot of hiking off of Push Line Road in the no mans land between Mannis Duck Pond and Jemima Mount. The area is high, with little water and few flies. While walking down one of the little used roads I barely noticed a subtle trail. It was obviously not a deer trail, had seen recent use and was only shoulder wide. Wanting to avoid ticks we decided to set it aside for the cold weather. That day came on December 25th.




The trail had lots of twists and turns, soon we were seeing sawn logs, orange trail markers and then a mile post. A half mile in we came to a clearing with a large trail sign. Someone had gone to allot of trouble to lug that sign in there. At that moment we knew we had to hike it (we would miss too much by biking it, and the dogs wanted a walk).





The Penn Branch Mountain Bike Trail starts and ends at Batsto. It is maintained by the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association.

http://www.jorba.org/

Hiking this trail was very interesting and will lead to further excursions off of it. It covers 19 miles of mostly uplands and opens up many difficult areas for exploration. The terrain was varied with miles of briars changing to dense brush to open forest where rolling hills could be made out. The forest in the north west part of the trail is very open and crossed with lots of old roads, some tracks which can barely be made out, just begging to be walked. That area also had an amazing number of old deer stands. On weekends it is heavily used by mountain bikers, I stopped counting at 25 on one 2 hour hike.

It has allot of twists and turns, which were deliberately made yet unnecessary to get through the woods. Apparently mountain bikers like switchbacks. They are also hydro phobic, going to great lengths to avoid wet areas. They avoided using existing roads and trails to the extent of building a bridge just 200 feet from the Goodwater Bridge. Their bridge cannot be seen from the road.

I used this photograph of the sign as my trail map.


The sun was low in the sky and the sigh faces south making photography difficult.






The "Crooked Bridge" by the Goodwater Bridge. It is solid but it sure is sloppy.



The Goodwater Bridge.



Another less crocked bridge south of Goodwater.



The third bridge on the trail near Batsto. This one looks professional.



There was allot of old stuff scattered about the old roads in the north west quadrant. This rim is much larger and heavier than it appears. It and it's tire appear to be old.



A novel deer stand. I guess once you get in it you won't fall out but the barrel might be noisy.



My track. They say the trail is 19 miles long but my track measured 17.7, encompassing 8.8 sq miles.





The bridge near Batsto, note the unnecessary switchback.





The trail on Boyd's LIDAR map. With the high contrast the mountainous terrain becomes visible.



I have a mountain bike, I think I'll dig it out of my garage and give it a try.



Ed

 

Hewey

Piney
Mar 10, 2005
1,041
101
1,043
Pinewald, NJ
Nice report and pictures! I had no clue this trail existed. If I did I may have hung on to my moutain bike that I gave away last summer.

Chris
 

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
2,551
587
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They cut the trail and it is narrow and twisting, almost a constant switchback. They even made their own bridge when there was another close by. We hiked a portion of the northern part yesterday. Look at the map and you will see that it parallels Sandy Ridge Road and crosses many others. We pick a place to park and use roads, plow lines and the bike trail to make loops. Beautiful uplands, even more open now since the March wildfire. I've seen others bring their bikes and do the same thing rather than ride the whole trail.
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
22,630
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So Ed ... did you dig the bike out and take the ride?
 

SuperChooch

Explorer
Aug 26, 2011
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44
I might be doing this this weekend. I've been wanting to do this trail for a while. I hiked part of it last summer but have been wanting to bike it.
 

SuperChooch

Explorer
Aug 26, 2011
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Finally got out to do this yesterday with a buddy. I'm in pretty decent shape and let me say this was intense! Ed was not kidding about the switchbacks. Probably not even 10 ft of it was straight. It was a continuous effort of turning left, right, up and down little hills. Great trip though, really enjoyed it. We started at the northern apex of the loop, rode down the western side to Batsto, had lunch at Batso, then continued on the eastern side. 3 hrs of total moving time. Also, highly recommend long pants. To protect from ticks for one thing, but the trail is very narrow so your legs are continuously battered by branches and brush. Finished the day with some BBQ from Kingfish.

Track and pics:
https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/f0572c1e9463ac504ff10c16ec718ef7/
 

SuperChooch

Explorer
Aug 26, 2011
316
315
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Where did you park? I finally found where it crosses sandy ridge road and there is a little spot for 1 car to the east side. Not sure on the legality of doing that though.
We parked here:
http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.71992331214768&lng=-74.63266867797853&z=15&type=terrain&gpx=

Plenty of room to park out of the way of the roads and not have to be into the brush. I don't think, technically, you are allowed to park anywhere. My rule of thumb has just been to make sure I'm not blocking the road, but also not be off the road and into the forest/brush.
 

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
2,551
587
1,093
We park in several places more than weekly. These places give good access to the bike trail. Many people park there, from bikers, hunters to hikers. If you weren't allowed to park in the forest that would amount to denial of use. The park police have passed us many times and wave. The dirt bikers are out there with chain saws keeping the paths clear. I agree with SuperC .
http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.720187387742385&lng=-74.63236827056886&z=15&type=nj1995&gpx=
http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.716688304048745&lng=-74.64116591613771&z=15&type=nj1995&gpx=
http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.71414640552134&lng=-74.64751738708497&z=15&type=nj1995&gpx=
http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.72418140780056&lng=-74.62116736572267&z=15&type=nj1995&gpx=
 

Glenn Walters

Explorer
Oct 2, 2013
190
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Never biked here yet. I am in shape enough for the 19 miler. It is on my 2016 bucket list. So very soon. I will take pics and report back. I did the 10 miler in Brendan Byrne. Fun. Sometimes tough to find the trail when crossing paved roads. Ended up doing 15 miles. Added a couple of switch backs because I had the time and I was there. Pakim Pond is beautifulIMG_1471.JPG IMG_1476.JPG IMG_1478.JPG