Remember: The safest place right now is at home.
Atsion to Carranza Monument
Directions to trailhead
Directions using two cars for a shuttle hike
- To Carranza Monument, from the North: NJ Turnpike South to Exit 7. Follow signs for 206 south. Drive approximately 14 miles south on 206 to the Red Lion Circle (70/206). Continue on 206 south through the circle approximately 1 mile. Bear left off 206 onto Carranza Road (Rt. 648). Drive approximately 1.5 miles to first stop sign. Continue through the Route 532 stop sign (Nixon's General Store on the left and Russo's farm store on the right) on Carranza Road in Tabernacle. After a couple miles of sparsely settled farm land and small affluent developments you will enter Wharton State Forest. Go past the turnoff for the old NJ Correctional System Boot Camp and continue another 1.8 miles. The Carranza Memorial site will be in a clearing on your right. [Drop off a car]
- From Carranza Monument to Atsion office: From the Memorial retrace your route along Carranza Road; in about four miles turn left onto Forked Neck Road. Travel 3.1 miles to the intersection with Route 206 at the Valenzano Winery. Turn left, travel another 3.4 miles; the sign for the Atsion office is ahead on your left, just before Atsion Lake on your right.
Directions using one car to hike out from and back to Atsion office, from the North: NJ Turnpike South to Exit 7. Follow signs for 206 south. Drive approximately 14 miles south on 206 to the Red Lion Circle (70/206). Continue on 206 south through the circle approximately 1 mile. From the intersection of Route 206 and Route 648, proceed South on Rt. 206 for another 9 miles until you enter Wharton State Forest. The sign for the Atsion office is ahead on your left, just before Atsion Lake on your right.
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