Best off-road trails New Jersey: Wharton State Forest
New Jersey is nicknamed the Garden State and off-road driving enthusiasts can rest assured that there are plenty of great trails to speed or crawl down. New Jersey’s top off-road trail, or trails, can be found in Wharton State Forest. The park has over 100,000 acres of forests, fields, streams, lakes, and hills. It is a playground for off-roaders and their 4x4s.
Wharton State Forest is New Jersey’s largest state forest. It may be a surprise to some enthusiasts that off-roading is allowed in the park due to it being such a unique nature reserve. Off-roading isn’t just allowed; it is encouraged as long as you drive a street legal vehicle. Wharton State Forest is so large, it resides in three separate New Jersey counties: Burlington, Camden, and Atlantic.
It isn’t just off-road driving that attracts people to the forest park. The long stretches of unpaved roads and trails are ideal for mountain cyclists, ATV riders, and trail runners. Meanwhile, the Mullica River is ideal for canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and camping is permitted in the park. Wharton State Forest is connected to other parks allowing you to drive between them via trails. The Batona Trail gives you the chance to reach Brendan T. Byrne and Bass River State Forest parks.
How long is the trail?
Wharton State Forest is an off-road driving enthusiast’s dream. There are more than 500 miles of unpaved roads in the park allowing you to drive for hours. In total, the park is comprised of 122,880 acres. The wildlife in the park is wonderful and may be spotted as you drive over the single-track roads.
Drivers must stay on the unpaved roads provided while driving through the park. There are over 500 miles to drive. Although the challenge may not be too high for experienced off-roaders, the excitement is in the journey and setting.
All vehicles that use the park must be street legal. You cannot bring a special 4×4 from home that is unlicensed, uninsured, and unregistered to drive around the forest. The trail has portions of gravel, sand, dirt, and paved road. It is wise to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle on the trails in Wharton State Forest.
Although non-four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted, it isn’t a smart move to go through the park in your car, small truck or SUV. There is a 20-miles-per-hour maximum speed limit inside the park. In addition to 4x4s, SUVs, and trucks, you can also drive your ATV on the trails.
How difficult is Wharton State Forest?
The number of trails and miles available to drive inside the park make it possible to get lost. It is advisable to pay close attention to the map available when entering the park. Drivers often rely on GPS when off-roading in Wharton State Forest. Due to the park’s immense size, both in acres and miles of trails, it is advisable not to use GPS instead of a map. Why? GPS can get you further lost as you drive deeper into the park.
Wharton State Forest has a lot of different unpaved roads to drive. The assortment of roads to choose from means that some are not traveled as frequently as others. Weather can play a major factor on the degree of difficulty for the trails. Less traveled trails can be more dangerous during and after rain or snow storms. Trails often have go-rounds allowing you to drive around large puddles following rainstorms. If you attempt to drive through large puddles, you may get stuck.
What is the trail like?
In one word, the trails at Wharton State Forest are “immense”. If you get lost, you may think they are never ending. At 500 total miles, you have a lot of unpaved trail to drive before emerging from the park. If you don’t think 500 miles is very far, consider it is roughly the same distance as driving from Chicago to Nashville.
It is important to note that off-roaders do not have the trails all to themselves. Hikers, mountain cyclists, ATV riders, and horse riders all share the trail. In more recent years, there have also been many conservationists protesting the use of the park.
Why is Wharton State Forest one of the best off-road trails New Jersey has to offer?
Wharton State Forest is a unique treasure in New Jersey. Remarkably, New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state in the United States. Yet, it offers off-roaders 500 miles of unpaved trails and more than 122,000 acres of gorgeous land to explore.
The park is so large that there is plenty to do. You can combine multiple elements into a trip such as off-roading, camping, hiking, and canoeing. Regardless if you are an off-road enthusiast or someone that just loves the great outdoors, Wharton State Forest has the best off-road trails in New Jersy, and perhaps, on the east coast.