Penn State Forest Q

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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I had a few questions about Penn State Forest for the good folks on here. I've been interested in exploring it for a while and might just do that sometime next week. I had two questions for anyone who might know:

Are there any of the roads there that would be difficult or impossible to pass through with a RAV because of mud holes or sugar sand? I understand that there's more sugar sand down that way than up in the Northern areas of the pines.

Also, are there Pine Plains within the Penn boundaries? Wondering if I could go out to see them, I've only been to the ones at Warren Grove.

Thanks much for any help you can offer!
 

bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
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Very few roads in that area are incapable of being driven. Especially with a RAV. The sand is not bad in most places either. Most are fairly hard packed.

As to the plains, as you trend northward, you'll see them. This is Spring Hill. You may not make it up there, but walk in and the plains are there. You've been to the top? There can be wet clay holes on that road. Best to avoid it and walk in unless its dry.

1648039391470.png
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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Thank you for your help Bob and NJCoastal.

Bob I haven't been up there to that location (Spring Hill) but it looks interesting and I look forward to visiting. I'll take your advice and park/walk it once I get up to that point.

Also: Datsun 240Z!? Wow that's a blast from the past. My brother in law had a Datsun 280ZX and a Subaru Brat. That brat was a blast, but probably responsible for a lot of deaths with those cockpit seats in the back.

Overall it sounds like I'll be okay with the RAV in Penn, good to hear.

Not to change the subject but since Brendan Byrne was mentioned, are there any areas in Brendan Byrne to stay out of with the RAV because of mud holes and sugar sand? Back story is that those are the two areas I want to explore the most this year. I'm familiar with a lot of Brendan Byrne but the Northern sections of it remain unexplored.
 
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Boyd

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I haven't been up there to that location (Spring Hill) but it looks interesting and I look forward to visiting.

You've been a member of this site for more than ten years and never been to Spring Hill? I'm shocked!! :D

Seriously, get yourself up there. Have not been since the pandemic, but it's near the top of my list of favorite places ever since I "discovered" it almost 30 years ago. Here's a view looking towards Bear Swamp Hill - which you should also visit - photographed in 2007.

spring_hill.jpg


3d view from the same location

https://boydsmaps.com/#18.56/39.766777/-74.448933/mbx3dortho/-136.20/70.00

A closer view of Bear Swamp Hill

bear_swamp_hill.JPG


These were taken on the hill above this abandoned gravel pit which is what most people consider Spring Hill, however the actual "summit" is in the woods over here where all you will see is trees.

This is a shot from one of the trails that starts at that pit and leads towards the summit, but dead-ends here.

trail.jpg


There's just so much to see around Spring Hill. Nice views from this spot as well.
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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@Boyd now this is the kind of feedback I like! Now I'm excited about getting up there and exploring.

Since we're talking about Penn, besides the ones around Oswego Lake, are there any good wetlands/wet savannahs to botanize around once the growing season starts? You can PM me that info if you'd prefer, I'll understand why. :D
 
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Teegate

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Just remember, portions of Spring Hill are private. I doubt you will have problems but it is interesting to note that there were photographs of individuals on the hill as the big fire a few years back was blazing. Was it another person or a camera set up????
 
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manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
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You've been a member of this site for more than ten years and never been to Spring Hill? I'm shocked!! :D

Seriously, get yourself up there. Have not been since the pandemic, but it's near the top of my list of favorite places ever since I "discovered" it almost 30 years ago. Here's a view looking towards Bear Swamp Hill - which you should also visit - photographed in 2007.

View attachment 16993

3d view from the same location

https://boydsmaps.com/#18.56/39.766777/-74.448933/mbx3dortho/-136.20/70.00

A closer view of Bear Swamp Hill

View attachment 16994

These were taken on the hill above this abandoned gravel pit which is what most people consider Spring Hill, however the actual "summit" is in the woods over here where all you will see is trees.

This is a shot from one of the trails that starts at that pit and leads towards the summit, but dead-ends here.

View attachment 16995

There's just so much to see around Spring Hill. Nice views from this spot as well.
Boyd this spot at the dead end is one of my favorite spots also. Your in a bowl and can see nothing but stunted pines.Alsothespoton the eastern side you linked to is one of the best views as you say.Walked up on a nekked woman in a lawn chair there once.Never know what you'll see in the Barrens:)
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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Just remember, portions of Spring Hill are private. I doubt you will have problems but it is interesting to note that there were photographs of individuals on the hill as the big fire a few years back was blazing. Was it another person or a camera set up????

@Teegate probably a foolish question but are those portions that are private well-marked? I definitely don't want to trespass.
 

Teegate

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I have not been there in years so I don't know.

You most likely will not have any issues.
 

Boyd

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probably a foolish question but are those portions that are private well-marked?

They are well-marked on my 2020 topo map. The areas with green shading are public.

https://boydsmaps.com/#13.00/39.766675/-74.448947/pines2020/0.00/0.00

You probably won't see much indication of this while walking around however, and I should point out that some of the links I posted are actually private. I doubt you will have any problems just passing through on the roads/trails. My map used NJDEP openspace data from 2020, but there's an old thread here where somebody claimed one of the landowners had some sort of boundary dispute with the state. Caveat emptor....
 
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manumuskin

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@Teegate @Boyd thanks again for the info. I will use appropriate discretion.
some of it is state and some Haines. Haines usually has his property pretty well signed. I watched him on an interview once.he said he was'nt so concerned with people enjoying nature being on his land but he does not want cycles and ATV"s on his land.He does allow an Enduro to go through every year biut they have insurance. I think he's worried about someone getting seriously hurt on his land and being sued. In any case if a road is open,not blocked and not specifically signed it's no doubt a public road.
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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@Boyd @bobpbx @Teegate @manumuskin I took a ride to Penn this morning to do some exploring, just to get the lay of the land. I did make it up to Bear Swamp Hill where the old firetower used to be, but all roads that I saw that led up to Spring Hill were clearly marked as private property/no trespassing. Shame because the pine plains over there were the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most. Otherwise it's a nice place. There are no trespassing signs all over outside of the boundary markers for Penn, every turn was a left turn except the first one and the last one. Thanks again for the tips!
 
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Boyd

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Well, I don't know what may have changed since the last time I was there, but from Bear Swamp Hill you should be able to take Sooey Road North to Lost Lane Road, that is all public openspace.

https://boydsmaps.com/#15.00/39.766780/-74.464225/pines2020/0.00/0.00

Then turn right (East) on Lost Lane, it's public openspace on the South side of the road and private on the North side. However, you can see the parcel boundaries on my LIDAR map and there's an easement for Lost Lane Rd, so I don't see a problem with driving or walking there.

https://boydsmaps.com/#17.00/39.765234/-74.460336/lidar2021hd/0.00/0.00

Now, you would turn left here to go up to the abandoned pit where I took those pictures. That would involve crossing about 800 feet of private property before re-entering public land here, where you would continue up to the gravel pit. Then it's public on up to the top of the hill where I took the pictures. If you're concerned about crossing the private section of that road, you could continue East on Lost Lane and turn left (North) here, which puts you on public land the whole way. From what I recall, you would have to do that on foot because it's too narrow/soft for a vehicle.

As a landowner myself, I applaud your desire to respect private property. However these are all well-known, frequently travelled roads that are miles from civilization, so it's not like you're cutting through somebody's backyard. You would just be passing through en route to a destination on public land. I sure wouldn't (and haven't) let that keep me away from Spring Hill.

Just my personal opinion, if somebody disagrees with this, I'd be interested. OTOH, if fewer people go up there, that's not a bad thing. ;)
 
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manumuskin

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I have never heard of anyone in forty years of going there being hassled about driving to the pit or above it for that matter but it's tight up there. If the road was the issue I think Haines would block it.I think he's just covering himself if you get hurt there.
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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Thanks @Boyd for the info. I see what you're saying and agree with the parcel being open space. Everything north of Lost Lane Road was where all of the no trespassing signage was, that's where I quit. I even rode up and down Lost Lane Road and the signage was all up and down areas below Spring Hill.

Part of me wonders if I should reach out to the superintendent of Penn, not to argue, but just to ask for clarification on access. If this is state-owned open space, there should be some reasonable way to access it without conflict with private landowners, need for written permission or other issues like that.
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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@manumuskin , you and I posted at the same time. Interested in knowing who the property owner (Haines) is? I don't see any commerce on the map in that area. Does he have something to do with PICC, does he have a house in the woods there, etc.?

P.S. no nekked women in lawnchairs today at Penn, or probably anywhere in the state for that matter. Brrr...
 
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Boyd

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Here's the State's own map of Penn State Forest, you can see that it agrees with mine.

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/maps/penn-area.pdf

https://boydsmaps.com/#14.00/39.761630/-74.451153/pines2020/0.00/0.00

Maybe I would need to see the signage to understand what your concern is? Because otherwise, I don't get it. There's an easement for Lost Lane Road, there shouldn't be any issue driving on it. If you really want to follow "the letter of the law", go East to where there's public land on both sides of the road, turn left (North) and continue to the hill without ever leaving Penn State Forest.

Screen Shot 2022-03-29 at 7.34.42 PM.png
 
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