Interested in the Pine Barrens, but wary about the perils of isolated forests and spotty cell service? Luckily, there exist a few parks on the edges of that vast swath of trees that can serve as your gateway for many adventures to come!
Double Trouble State Park and Jakes Branch County Park, both located in the Pinelands National Reserve, are neighboring parks in Ocean County that grant easy access to everything the Pine Barrens has to offer — beautiful woodland scenery, classic New Jersey flora and fauna, and extensive, easy trails for the beginner hiker. Both of these mid-sized parks are within a mile of the Parkway, so you’ll never have to worry about getting lost or losing cell service!
A walk through Double Trouble, named after an old legend about the logging operation that used to occupy the area, might lead you past heritage cranberry bogs, lines of tall pitch pines, or the pleasantly meandering Cedar Creek. One moment, the scenery betrays traces of industry, and the next, you’re embedded in what feels like a dense jungle. The trails at Double Trouble range from a half-mile to 2.5 miles, offering many options for you to make your first foray into the pines.
At Jakes Branch, you can get an awe-inspiring feel for how expansive the Pine Barrens really is, all from the comfort of their beautiful nature center! The center features exhibits about native animals, forest fires, and more. Check out the center’s incredible collection of live reptiles!
Climb to the top of the observation tower and you’ll find yourself astonished by the vastness of the sea of pines before you. It’s truly a unique sight in this region of New Jersey. The trees extend for miles in every direction, with just a few power lines and military buildings to remind you that you’re still in the most densely populated state in the U.S.!
A visit to Double Trouble or Jakes Branch is the perfect way to become acquainted with all of the amazing things the Pine Barrens has to offer. These two areas offer backcountry views coupled with all of the conveniences of your regular suburban parks. After your visit, you’ll be planning your next trip in no time!