Getting Lost at the Franklin Parker Preserve
Recently I went back to one of my favorite local parks, the Franklin Parker Preserve. I’ve been to Franklin Parker Preserve before, and I enjoy how scenic and quiet it usually is. New Jersey parks have opened back up (for now), so it has been fun to get back out there.
I was cautious when I went because I wasn’t sure how crowded it would be. It was the first weekend, New Jersey Parks were open, plus it was a gorgeous weekend. I told myself it was too busy; then, I would just drive home.
When I arrived at Franklin Parker Preserve, there were more cars than I’ve ever seen. However, I took a different trail (at the parking lot, I turned left instead of going straight). It ended up being empty for 4 out of 5 miles I was hiking. It was awesome. I did, however, get slightly off-trail after bushwhacking for about 10 minutes I realized I was probably lost.
After checking for ticks a dozen times, I finally got back on the main trail.
A Little History about the Franklin Parker Preserve:
For most of the 20th century, the area was a cranberry farm owned by the DeMarco family of Hammonton, NJ (Also known as the Demarco Cranberry Meadows Natural Area). In the early 2000s, the Demarcos family sold the 9400-acre property for 11.6 million to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
Now, the primary goals for Franklin Parker Preserve are to restore and enhance the biological diversity and critical natural resources of this portion of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
The Franklin Parker Preserve is named after Franklin E. Parker III, the first chair of the Pinelands Commission and conservationist. He greatly influenced the successful passage of the 1979 Pinelands Protection Act.
Anyway, I’ve been to Franklin Parker Preserve a few times and I always enjoy how peaceful it is.
The Franklin Parker Preserve takes up about 16 square miles in the Pine Barrens. Most of the Franklin Parker Preserve is sandy roads that wind through both cranberry farms, blueberry fields, and around the preserve’s cedar swamp.
There are roughly four trails (red trail, green trail, white trail, and yellow trail) that add up to 21 miles (and maybe 1/2 mile of something you think is a trail and get lost…no just me??). Most of the trails are sand roads and they wrap around Chatsworth lake and cranberry bogs.
If you are familiar with the 53-mile Batona trail, that now goes through Franklin Parker Preserve.
A few years ago, there as a fire that raged through the Pinelands and Franklin Parker Preserve. It destroyed a fairly large amount of the area, and thankfully much has grown back. You can still see remains of the fire on some of the trail markers.
The Pinelands make up a large part of southern New Jersey:
In addition to The Franklin Parker Preserve there is:
- Brendan Byrne State Forest
- Wharton State Forest
- Bass River State Forest
- Greenwood Wildlife Management Area
- Penn State Forest.
Many people don’t realize that New Jersey is “the garden state” and the Franklin Parker Preserve contains approximately 5,000 acres of wetlands habitat. The Pinelands Preserve is the home of several endangered species in New Jersey, including both a bald eagle and bobcat. I’ve seen a bald eagle, but thankfully no bobcats.
This particular trip to Franklin Parker Preserve, I just saw turtles and what I think was an otter in the distance.
If you are local and want an easy, flat, hike, I highly suggest the Franklin Parker Preserve. You can probably run there because the terrain is relatively easy too.
You can see more hikes here.
Questions for you?
Have you been to the Franklin Parker Preserve?
What are some of your favorite local places to hike?