It takes a brave person to visit one of the world's haunted forests like the Isla De Las Muñecas in Mexico. But camping in one is another thing entirely. That's precisely what you can do in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. Although most visitors aren't concerned with local legends and just love the outdoor activities found in the forest. Not to mention the fact that it was featured in HBO's The Sopranos.
New Jersey often gets a bad rap due to the Shore which, for the record, is not the worst place in America when you consider Panama City Beach and a host of other places. But the state has some truly gorgeous attractions, namely this massive 1.1 million-acre forest.
Without further ado, here's a guide to camping in the haunted Pine Barrens forest in New Jersey where The Sopranos was filmed.
10 We Aren't Kidding... It's 1.1 Million Acres, So There's Tons Of Room To Camp And Play
The Pine Barrens doesn't tend to be included among the best camping spots in the U.S. from the Sawtooth National Forest to the Grand Teton National Park, but it's a favorite among locals. Since the Pine Barrens, which is also known as "The Pinelands", is a whopping 1.1 million acres it's hard for locals to ignore. Since it takes up 22 percent of New Jersey and encompasses multiple state parks such as Wharton and Bass River, it tends to be the main destination where campers want to set up. According to PhillyMag, it's actually bigger than both Yosemite and The Grand Canyon National Park and can be found on the way to the Shore and Long Beach.
9 Camping Is A Tradition In New Jersey And Basically Is Available All Year Round
Without a doubt, camping is a tradition in The Pinelands and the State Forests thanks to the numerous opportunities and spaces for visitors to enjoy. Both public and private campsites tend to be open year-round, however specific areas with The Barrens are closed in the winter due to the treacherous landscape. Firewood is sold at several outposts to keep campers warm regardless of whether they are staying in a public or private space, in a tent, RV, or cabin. In the summer, there can be fire restrictions, but this tends to be rare.
8 The Many Public Camping Sites Are The Safest Bet But Come With The Strictest Rules
Due to its proximity to urban and suburban locales, the wilderness of the Pine Barrens is a favorite among campers who can enjoy numerous public and private camping sites found throughout the forest. With public, state-run grounds, campers will need a permit found through the Wharton, Bass River, or Brendan Byrne State Forest offices. While heavier rules regarding alcohol and pets are in place on these grounds, they also come with cleaner bathrooms and patroled grounds. Among the most popular public sites is Atsion, which offers $20 per night tent and trailer sites and cabins with private bathrooms ranging from $315 to $595 per week. Other public sites throughout the Barrens include Bodine Field, Hawkins Bridge, Mullica River, and Lower Forge, and Goshen Pond.
For those looking for a cheaper experience, the most primitive sites in the Wharton State Forest cost about $8 per night with $3 extra per person.
7 Private Campgrounds Can Be Rough Or Extremely Glamorous
There are multiple privately-run campgrounds in the State Forests that make up the Pine Barrens (or "Pinelands"). Some of these campgrounds are pretty rough but offer a lot more freedom to visitors. However, some of the privately-owned sites are truly glamorous and offer a ton more perks than state-owned sites. According to their website, Wading Pines offer guided kayak and canoe trips, sits on stately grounds, and even have their very own pool. Other private campgrounds include Turtle Run, Pilgrim lake, Union Hill, Chips Folly Family, and Belhaven Lake Resort
6 Yes, The Most Famous Episode Of The Sopranos Was Filmed In The Pine Barrens
Many fans of the HBO smash-hit The Sopranos seem to be very curious about whether the show's most famous episode, "Pine Barrens", was filmed in the actual location. According to The Sopranos Fandom, parts of the episode were indeed filmed there. Since the forest is under the protection of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, it can be challenging to get film permits in the area. But HBO managed to get one for what would end up becoming some of the most memorable scenes in the show's run. This tends to be a major draw for visitors to the area.
5 The Pine Barrens Offer A Ton Of Hiking Options Including A Trail That Runs For 49.5 Miles
Almost every forest has tremendous hiking, but given that the Pine Barrens includes multiple State forests and takes up a whopping 1.1 million acres, the hiking opportunities are nearly endless. From sandy roads to cedar swamps, the Pine Barrens make for truly interesting hiking outings, according to NJPineBarrens.com. Whether you're camping among the eery trees or just out for the day, visitors can enjoy a host of trails that include the Batona Trail which runs for 49.5 miles through three state forests.
4 Numerous Streams, Rivers, And Lakes Dwell Within The Forest So It's Perfect For Kayaking
Anyone who loves a gentle kayaking or canoeing experience will love exploring the Pine Barrens via the water. Multiple rivers, streams, and lakes can be found throughout the heavily wooded part of the State of New Jersey. Therefore, there are endless options for kayak and canoe rentals. Many of the rentals can be found through private campgrounds but there are other independent companies who also offer day-trip rentals such as the highly-rated Pineland Adventures and Micks Pine Barrens Kayaking And Canoe Rentals.
3 So, About All Those Haunting Legends...
Many do believe that The Pine Barrens is haunted and there are a number of examples of why people think that. While the area thrived during the colonial era, people eventually abandoned the towns within the Barrens for coal mining opportunities west of Pennsylvania, leaving ghost towns where lost souls are believed to still dwell. According to CNTraveler, the most famous horrifying legend of the Pine Barrens is the New Jersey Devil, a creature that is said to have been the 13th child born to Deborah Leeds in 1735. The monster is said to have had leathery wings, a goats head, and hooves and eats livestock in the area to this day... If you believe that kind of thing...
2 You Can Visit The Ghost Towns Within The Forest
People once flocked to the Pine Barrens for stable but low-paying job opportunities in factories and small towns hidden within the verdant landscape. But with the mining boom elsewhere, citizens disbursed leaving behind structures that you can still visit today. According to nj.com, these destinations include the Brooksbrae Brick Factory that was built in the early 1900s but now is a shell of its former self and covered in graffiti. There's also the Atsion Mansion near the village of Atsion overlooking Route 206. The 14-room house was built in the 1800s and was the home of a gruesome murder.
1 New Jersey's Pine Barrens Is Full Of Horseback Riding, Hunting, Fishing, And Epic ATV Experiences
According to PineyPower, New Jersey has more horses per capita than any other state. And with 1.1 million acres in the Pine Barrens, and most forests elsewhere, it's truly no surprise. So, yes, there are numerous companies offering horseback riding experiences in the area. This is also true of off-road ATV rentals, which can be a fun but dangerous sport. Fishing and hunting are also really common activities in the Barrens. There are numerous clubs and permitted areas for basically every kind of hunting experience you can think of.