Starting at the parking lot of the historic Atsion office, head southeast on Quaker Bridge Road past a hunting club and boarded-up schoolhouse on your right and look for the Mullica (yellow) Trail on your left. Follow the trail as it passes a country church and cemetery; you will enter a mixed pine & hardwood forest. In about 0.2 mile you will reach an old railroad right-of-way with the...
Starting at the parking lot of the historic Atsion office, head southeast on Quaker Bridge Road past a hunting club and boarded-up schoolhouse on your right and look for the Mullica (yellow) Trail on your left. Follow the trail as it passes a country church and cemetery; you will enter a mixed pine & hardwood forest. In about 0.2 mile you will reach an old railroad right-of-way with the rails still in place and pitch pines growing among the ties. Abandoned in the early 1980s, the railroad was once part of the Southern Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey that ran from Red Bank to Bridgeton. Turn left at the railbed and head northeast into the pines.
You will cross and parallel a few streams and the Batsto River, numerous sand roads and see stands of pine and deciduous trees, sections of forest charred by fires and thick swamps of towering Atlantic White Cedar trees. Note the tea-colored water in the streams around you as you walk. The acidic waters (4.4 mean pH) are tea-colored as a result of tannic acid present in plants, (especially Atlantic White Cedar) and also by naturally forming iron present in the streams. The streams are part of the Kirkwood Cohansey Aquifer, which contains 17 trillion gallons of water covering 3,000 square miles of southern and central New Jersey.
We completed this hike in late February when the railbed was lined only with pine trees; be advised that tall grasses and weeds may cover it during warmer months. Although we did not encounter any ticks, warning signs were posted at the Atsion office.
Approximately 4.5 miles after you stepped on the railbed, you will reach High Crossing, an intersection of numerous sand roads that is a popular gathering spot for off-road vehicles. At this location the railroad right-of-way may be impassable due to the dense growth of the pines; we walked along a parallel sand road and then a narrow sand path a few dozen yards south of the railbed that appeared to be traversed by mountain bikers and/or dirt bikers. The railbed will still be visible on your left through the pines. In about a mile you will intersect the Batona Trail, a 50-mile pink-blazed trail that runs from Ong’s Hat in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest to Lake Absegami in Bass River State Forest. Turn left onto the Batona Trail and proceed approximately one-third of a mile to the Carranza Memorial, an impressive stone monument to Mexican Aviator Emilio Carranza, whose airplane crashed at the site during a thunderstorm in 1928 as part of a goodwill trip between Mexico City and Long Island. On- and off-road parking is plentiful here, though you may encounter, as we did, a large number of horse trailers and off-road vehicles parked along Carranza Road and in designated spots among the trees.
This hike can also be done as a round-trip hike starting at either the Atsion office or the Carranza Memorial.
Trail map: USGS Hammonton, NJ or “Batona Trail” maps available at Atsion office.
Date of hike: February 27, 2011
Publication: Submitted by Jeffrey Jotz on 04/29/2011
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.