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Old 08-15-11, 06:58 PM   #1
Jude
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NJ Pine Barrens road biking

I've got about 2 weeks before I start working and I want to use it to do some several-day tours (with camping) of the areas around Philly. I'll be heading down to Bel Air, MD and maybe DC and probably up the Schuylkill Trail to Port Clinton, but I also want to get out to the Jersey Pine Barrens. I don't know the area well at all other than from maps, but it looks like the biggest uninterrupted area of woods is Wharton State Forest. That seems to have only a few roads going through it and then a network of either small roads or dirt trails.

So two questions - are those backroads/trails rideable with a road bike (28mm tires), and does anyone know of some other nice scenic forest routes through the Pine Barrens?

Also, anybody know where to pick up a good map of the area? My other option is printing out a whole buttload of maps off Google or whatever, since I haven't found anything better online...
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Old 08-16-11, 08:17 AM   #2
indyfabz
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I'd be hesitant about those backroads. If they are unpaved, they are likely sand-based and very difficult to ride on with a road bike. I remember riding back to the city Buena. The ride leader picked roads using Google Maps. One of them turned out to be unpaved for a stretch and was impossible to ride in places.

IMO, the Pine Barrens is one of the most uninteresting places to ride in this area. Incredibly monotinous. And the Wharton Forest area is not that large. You can ride through it in a day. I remember doing the organized ride called the Pinelands Triple Loop. As the name implies, it was three loops making up a century. Started from the historic village of Batsto in Wharton SF. After the first two loops I was so bored I called it a day.

If you want to go to NJ, Bull's Island and Spruce Run Recreation Areas are in much more interesting territory. (I have never been to the latter.) Hunterdon County is a beautiful place to ride. You could ride to Bull's Island for a few days and do some day rides out of the park. I have 3 or 4 cue sheets for day rides from there. The campground has some walk-in sites (you can bike in) right along the river. Walk across the pedestrian birdge and have a beer at the Black Bass Hotel.

Another NJ option I have toyed with is taking SEPTA or the NJT River Line to Trenton, then taking NJT to Seacaucus Jct. and picking up the train to Pt. Jervis, NY, where there is camping not too far away. From there, you can ride through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to Worthing State Forest, where there is camping. The next day you can ride along the river to Bull's Island and then back to Philly the following day. It's logistically tricky, but I rode the stretch coming home from Maine and it's really nice in most places. The Gap is very pretty and you might even get luck and see a bear.
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Old 08-17-11, 12:41 PM   #3
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I'
IMO, the Pine Barrens is one of the most uninteresting places to ride in this area. Incredibly monotonous.
My thoughts exactly. "Move along, folks. Nothing to see here."
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Old 08-18-11, 10:12 PM   #4
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I'd have to say that those who say that the Pine Barrens are boring don't know the area very well. However, I will certainly agree that you shouldn't take a road bike on any dirt roads back there. The sand is very soft and deep enough to eat cars. Canoeing is highly recommended on many of the small rivers.
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Old 08-19-11, 11:01 AM   #5
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I know it quite well and find the scenery and terrain uninteresting to bike through. I have been canoeing in the area twice. Nice when the flies are not trying to eat you alive. But again, I was speaking about the cycling.
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Old 08-19-11, 11:05 AM   #6
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Also, anybody know where to pick up a good map of the area? My other option is printing out a whole buttload of maps off Google or whatever, since I haven't found anything better online...
Alfred Patton map company used to make detailed county maps. I have used their Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland County maps on numerous occasions. I probably even have a Burlington County one somehwere in my collection. Don't know if they are still in business or doing business under another name. You used to be able to get them at places like B&N and Borders among other places.
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