Pinelands Forest Easy Walk
Directions to trailhead
Take the Garden State Parkway to Exit 98. After passing through the toll booths, bear left at the fork, following signs to Route 34 South. After merging onto Route 34, make the first right onto Allenwood Road and proceed for 0.7 mile to a “stop” sign at a T-intersection. Turn right onto Atlantic Avenue, cross over the Garden State Parkway, and make the first left onto Hospital Road. Proceed for 1.0 mile on Hospital Road to a large parking area for Allaire State Park on the right.
This hike loops around the southern end of Allaire State Park. It follows sandy roads and footpaths through a mixed forest of deciduous and pine trees. Although it offers no panoramic viewpoints or other features of special interest, it does provide the opportunity for an easy, pleasant walk through an attractive forest on the northern fringe of the Pinelands. The entire hike is relatively level, with the difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points on the hike only about 70 feet. Although the park map indicates that some of the trails are "challenging," this comment is applicable primarily to bicyclists.
The trails used on this hike are open to hikers, joggers, bicyclists and equestrians. For the most part, the trail blazes are on narrow brown wands. Park regulations provide that bicyclists must yield to other trail users, but hikers should be alert for bicycles approaching at a high rate of speed on narrow trails. Hikers must yield to equestrians.
The hike begins at the kiosk at the western end of the parking area. Follow the Orange Trail, which begins here and heads west, parallel to Hospital Road. The trail soon crosses a gravel road and reaches a fork. Bear left at the fork to follow the Orange Trail in a counter-clockwise direction. The trail passes through a forest of pines, holly trees and mountain laurel and soon bears right, away from Hospital Road.
After passing through some dense mountain laurel, you'll come to a fork. The trail bears left here, then immediately right, but as of this writing, the trail marking is not entirely clear, so hikers should take care to follow the orange blazes.
The trail continues through a dense stand of pines and reaches a wide sandy road. Here, the orange blazes turn left, but you should turn right onto the road. Bear right at a fork In the road and continue heading to the right, following the wide road (which is slightly overgrown at one point). In a short distance, you'll come to a patch of asphalt (indicating that the road was once paved). Just beyond, you will see a blue ribbon hanging from a tree. This marks the start of the Blue Trail. Turn left and follow the Blue Trail into the woods.
Soon, you'll pass an abandoned gravel pit, now being reclaimed by pine trees, to the left. There are many intersecting side trails in the area, but you should proceed ahead, following the orange markers. At the end of the gravel pit, a short detour to the left leads to a nice viewpoint over the abandoned pit.
Continue ahead on the Blue Trail through a dense understory of blueberry bushes, which leads into a stand of mountain laurel. After proceeding through a pine forest, you'll reach a T-intersection, with paved Squankum Road visible ahead. Turn right here, now following both Blue and Orange Trails.
At the next four-way intersection, turn right to continue along the Blue Trail. Turn left at the following four-way intersection to remain on the Blue Trail. Then, at the third four-way intersection, you should turn right, again following both Blue and Orange Trails.
When you reach the fourth consecutive four-way intersection, the Blue and Orange Trails diverge. Here, you should turn left to continue on the Orange Trail, which you will be following for the rest of the hike.
The trail soon emerges at a clearing for power lines. Be careful to follow the markers here, as the trail does not cross the power lines, but skirts them to the right. A short detour to the left leads to a viewpoint in both directions along the power lines.
Follow the Orange Trail, which descends rather steeply on a deeply eroded road and continues along a wide, sandy road. Proceeding through a stand of pines, the trail soon crosses a sandy road and begins to parallel another sandy road, which is visible to the left. To the right, you can see the edge of an escarpment, which you will soon climb.
After paralleling the road for about a third of a mile, the trail bears right, away from the road, and begins a very gentle climb of the escarpment on a series of long, winding switchbacks (designed to ease the grade for bicyclists). You'll cross the original trail, which has been obliterated, several times during the course of the gradual ascent. At the top of the climb, the trail bears left at a four-way intersection and continues through a dense thicket of mountain laurel.
At the base of a short descent, the White Trail joins from the right. Continue ahead, now following both orange and white blazes. A short distance beyond, the trails bear left, leaving the sandy road that they have been following, and continue on a winding footpath. After a while, they rejoin the road and bear left.
At a four-way intersection, the Orange and White Trails turn sharply right. This turn is marked by an orange plastic marker on a tree, rather than the brown wands that have been used up to this point. You'll now traverse some deeply eroded trail sections, and in several places, the mountain laurel forms a dense canopy overhead.
After crossing a wide gravel road (where the White Trail ends), the Orange Trail bears left and begins to parallel the road. Soon, you'll reach a T-intersection, which marks the start of the loop of the Orange Trail. Turn left and follow the orange markers back to the parking area where the hike began.