Wharton State Forest
Guide

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Introduction

Not a lot of forests of the world are as beautiful and picturesque as the Wharton State Forest. Not only is it one of the gorgeous sites you can visit for an RV vacation, but it is also quite fascinating. Covering over 100,000 acres of Pinelands, Wharton State Forest is the largest state forest in the state of New Jersey, and it is the largest tract of land in the park system of the state.

You can park your trusty RV on the southern edge of the forest and explore the village of Batsto, a former glassmaking industrial center that now has 33 historic structures and buildings, best of which is the Batsto Mansion, the old general store, and the sawmill. Take a scenic hike on the Batona Trail, which covers over 50 miles and connects Brendan T. Byrne, Bass River State, and Wharton State Forests. Hiking isn’t the only thing you can do once you set up your rig. Horseback riding, hunting, fishing, swimming, and boating are all popular past times for RVers. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars in your campervan too since you can see dozens of native birds such as eagles, hawks, and owls.

Whether you prefer pitching your tent or staying warm inside your RV, the campgrounds of Wharton State Forest will show you the most exceptional hospitality you can ever ask for. Some of the campsites are pet-friendly, so you can even bring your furry friend along on the adventure in the great outdoors. Close enough to the beach and the casinos of Atlantic City, Wharton State Forest will surely provide everything you need for a memorable experience with a whole lot of fresh air!

RV Rentals in Wharton State Forest

Transportation in Wharton State Forest

Driving

Wharton State Forest is located in central New Jersey, roughly between Cherry Hill and Atlantic City. You should have no trouble getting to the park since its close to major thoroughfares like Routes 206 and 30. The use of vehicles is permitted on the forest roads, but not on forest lands. Wharton State Forest has many access points that are easy enough to go through; however, keep in mind that RVs longer than 22 feet will have a hard time accessing the campgrounds.

As far as the parking goes, your best bet is to park in Batsto Village lot, located next to the Batsto Village Visitors Center. Another parking option is at Evans Bridge accessible from County 563, or County 679, where there is room for several vehicles to be parked along the Harrisville road. From there, you can take your bicycle or go on foot and hike up the main hiking trail that goes north from the village of Batsto.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Wharton State Forest

Campsites in Wharton State Forest

Reservations camping

Primitive Campsites at Wharton State Forest

Wharton State Forest has many campgrounds to choose from. Besides from Atsion Family Campground, there are six additional campgrounds that offer primitive camping for RVs and tents including Buttonwood Hill, Bodine Field, Batona, Godfrey Bridge, Hawkins Bridge, and Goshen Pond. These campgrounds are a great option for those looking to get back in touch with nature and enjoy a rustic camping experience since there are no hookups available.

Most campsites provide a picnic table and fire ring so you can enjoy a scenic picnic or roast marshmallows by the fire. Most sites are close to pit toilets. Some campgrounds are open seasonally, while others are open year-round.

Atsion Family Campground

Open from April to October, the Atsion Family Campground offers 50 tent and RV sites you can camp in. Fire rings and picnic tables are readily available at each campsite. Flush toilets, showers, and potable water are all within walking distance. While there are no hookups, there is a dump station on-site. About a dozen of the sites are pet-friendly.

The campsite is located near Atsion Lake, so after a long day of swimming or fishing, you can easily reach your RV and doze off. You can also go for a relaxing horseback ride or go hiking and explore the forest around you. During the winter, snow sports are permitted. Campers with bicycles can easily find a trail for a ride but do talk to the forest officer and get information on the path and possible dangers for cyclists.

RVs, campers, and trailers up to 22 feet in length are permitted. You can reserve your site online where Atsion requires a minimum stay of two nights. However, you can also make your reservations in person.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Wharton State Forest

In-Season

Hiking

Hikers can take the famous 50-mile Batona Trail that connects Bass River, Wharton, and Brendan T. Byrne State Forests. You’ll hike through some of New Jersey’s most iconic scenery like Pinelands and beautiful hilly views. Plus, you can check out the historic villages of Lower Forge and Martha. Most parts of the trail are level. Horses or motor vehicles are not permitted on the trail. The park follows a carry-in/carry-out policy, so make sure to pick up your litter.

Swimming

During the summer, you can unpack your swimsuit out of the camping trailer and make a splash at the swimming area at the Atsion Recreation Area. Lifeguards are available, as well as facilities such as a bathhouse, first aid room, food concession, and 280 parking spots. Check swimming schedules before you go, and be aware that during the summer months, the swimming area can be closed temporarily due to overcrowding. Rafts or inner tubes are not allowed, and neither are pets.

Canoeing and Boating

Wharton State Forest is fantastic for boating, kayaking, canoeing, as it has four rivers that provide plenty of opportunities for adventure on the water. Whether you choose the Batsto, Wading, Mullica, or Oswego River, you are sure to have a blast cruising along the water. Electric powerboats with over ten horsepower are not allowed in the lakes at Batsto, Harrisville, and Atsion.

Off-Season

Hunting and Fishing

The thrill of the hunt is alive at Wharton State Forest. If you are a hunter, you will find deer, rabbit, pheasant, and squirrel. Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear in your camper if you’re an avid angler. You’ll have the chance to catch catfish, perch, sunfish, pickerel, and bass. There are several areas where fishing is prohibited, so talk to a forest officer to get the exact places. Make sure to check state rules and regulation for hunting and fishing before heading out.

Horseback Riding

For all fans of horseback riding, almost 500 miles of unpaved roads are available year-round at Wharton State Forest. One of the world’s oldest horse breed, the Icelandic horse, is available in the local area to rent for horseback rides. Riders can take the long trail and go through the entire forest on the back of a horse. This activity is also kid-friendly since the Icelandic horses are considerably smaller than regular ones. It is best to avoid horseback riding during the peak season since the number of park visitors is at its highest. Instead, go there in the later fall or early spring when the crowds are smaller.

Exploring Batsto Village

Step out of your RV and back in time at Batsto Village, located on the southern end Wharton State Forest. You can explore life in the 1700s and 1800s since this was the site of former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center. You can visit the famous Batsto Mansion, the sawmill, general store, homes of former workers, the post office, and the gristmill. Taking a self-guided tour is easy - it's free and all you need is a smartphone.

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