New Jersey October 14, 2016
You’ve Never Experienced Anything Like This Epic Abandoned Railroad Hike In New Jersey
New Jersey is home to dozens of abandoned railway lines, many of which once ran through the Pine Barrens. Trains transported spoils of New Jersey mines throughout the state and into New York, Pennsylvania and beyond. As the mining industry dwindled and other forms of transportation gained favor, hundreds of miles of track were left abandoned. Much of this track has been removed as part of the rails-to-trails program, but there’s a wonderful hike in Wharton State Forest where you can still see remnants of what once was.
Atsion Recreation Area
This short, easy hike is about .5 miles out and back (a mile total) along the Mullica River Trail (Yellow Blazes). You'll begin at Atsion Lake (715 Rt. 206, Shamong). Part of the Atsion Recreation Area, you can enjoy swimming during summer months and cross-country skiing in the winter.
The terrain is flat with little to no elevation gain. This hike traverses soft sand trails often padded with pine needles. Perfect for beginners and families, anyone can enjoy this short hike.
After about half a mile out, you'll come across stretches of abandoned track - remnants from the former Central Railroad of New Jersey. Hidden under a thick layer of brush and pine, you can still make out the rails. This particular track was instrumental during the Civil War, helping to transport troops and supplies.
There are some pretty amazing views along this route in addition to the abandoned tracks. You'll walk along the Mullica River and can take time to admire the wonderful waterfront. You'll likely spot a few kayakers and some impressive waterfowl.
Being a history buff, one of my favorite parts of this hike is the option to explore the ghost town of Atsion and the magnificent mansion which still stands. Built in 1826, it once served as a summer estate. Tours are available seasonally. Mill remains, a church, schoolhouse and cemetery can also be found in the area.
Extend Your Hike
If you'd like a more challenging hike, continue down the Mullica River Trail (Yellow) to the Quaker Bride Trail (Purple). Turn right onto the Wilderness Camps Connector (Green) and then back onto the Mullica River Trail. This loop totals about 9.6 miles and will take you all the way down to the Batsto River.
A wonderful fall hike, enjoy the cooler temperatures and fantastic foliage. For more details on this hike, visit
www.njhiking.com. For other amazing hikes in New Jersey, check out this scenic Appalachian Trail Hike or this Garden State hiking bucket list.