New Jersey September 25, 2017
This Haunted Hike In New Jersey Will Send You Running For The Hills
Fall is finally here, Halloween is just over a month away and Friday the 13th is coming up faster than the creepy creature that’s on your tail. Well, maybe if you’re on this trail. Now is the perfect time for a haunted hike and there are few better places than the Pine Barrens to get your scare on.
The BaToNa Trail is a 50+ mile trail that runs through the Pine Barrens.
BaToNa is short for BAck TO NAture and is a very rural, secluded trail through deep woods.
There's so much to see along this lengthy trail.
You'll find lakes, ponds, pines, sandy soil, cemeteries, ruins, historic villages, rustic campgrounds, a fire tower, bridges, memorials and more.
The trail runs through the heart of the Pine Barrens, prime territory for the Jersey Devil.
The legend of the Jersey Devil is centuries old. Over the years, there have been over 2,000 reported sightings. The story goes something like this... In 1735, Mother Leeds, a pine barrens native, gave birth to her 13th child. Some say she was a witch and that the child's father was the devil himself.
Born on a stormy night, the baby was anything but human. It killed the midwife and flew off into the woods. For years it tormented local children and farmers, killing livestock. Many describe the creature as having hooves, wings and a forked tail; some also add horns and a blood curling scream to the description. Researchers theorize that the story began as an attempt to discredit the Leeds Family by political rivals or local Quakers who did not approve of their non-Quaker religious beliefs. Known as the Leeds Devil until the early 1900s, even Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Joseph claimed to have spotted the winged devil.
You don't need to hike the whole trail for a chilling adventure.
I'd start at the ghost town of Ong's Hat! The northernmost terminus of the BaToNa Trail, it has a very strange history. The area can be seen on maps dating back centuries. Legend says that the town had just a handful of houses, along with a thriving dance hall. However, industry left the area and Ong's Hut/Ong's Hat slowly became abandoned.
The last resident left the town in 1936, but not before some strange disappearances. A Polish immigrant, John Chininiski, and his wife lived in the area. She disappeared without a trace, and shortly after he went missing as well. Years later, a single skeleton was found in the woods nearby. But the story gets even stranger. According to an urban legend (and a handful of conspiracy theorists), Ong's Hat contains a portal to another dimension. Disgraced Princeton professors, mocked for their quantum physics theories, fled to the area in the 1970s. They are said to have discovered the secret of inter-dimensional travel.
The trail has plenty of areas for parking and camping along the route, so you can make this hike as long or short as you’d like. I think a good out and back trail would be starting at Ong’s Hat (along Turkey Buzzard Bridge Road, Pemberton) and ending at Deep Hollow Pond, before heading back. The hike would be moderate, at around 5 miles. For another haunted hike in New Jersey, check out
Jenny Jump Forest.