If you’re looking for Pine Barrens camping in New Jersey, Wharton State Forest is where you’ll want to roam. The center of the forest is the farthest point from a road in the whole state, and the Wharton State Forest campground lies in the thick of cedar, pine, and oak trees. Wharton State Forest covers 122,880 acres, which is but a small portion of the one-million-acre New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve.
Camping in Wharton State Forest can only be reached by hiking or boating in—the latter is a popular option for canoeists who enjoy winding streams through the Pinelands, as well as the 50-mile Mullica River. Campsites sit on both the Batso River and the Mullica River.
Wharton State Forest is home to some history as the previous site of iron furnaces and sawmills during the industrial revolution. Basto Village, established in 1776, was the central community of the industry, and some of the original buildings have survived and been restored by the state. Visitors can tour certain Basto Village structures, located at the southern edge of Wharton State Forest.
Visitors can reach the highest point of the Pinelands National Reserve by hiking the Batona Trail to Apple Pie Hill, where they’ll climb another 60 feet into an active fire tower with a bird’s eye view. The tower is only accessible while staffed by a fire watcher.
Campers will find primitive sites spread across Wharton State Forest, including Goshen Pond, Bartona, Hawkin Bridge, Godfrey Bridge, Bodine Field, Mullica River, Butterwood Hill, and Atsion family campground.
It is so easy to get lost in these woods and I LOVE IT! I grew up near the pine barrens and would camp here many times with friends. If you want off the beaten path and not close to anyone… this is IT!
You might even see the Jersey Devil :)
Paid a visit mid November. Hiked from the Batso Office to the Mullica River tent sites. Trail could get a tad sandy but it's well maintained. Would definitively come visit again and stay more than one night.
Enjoyed a site away from the crowds. Quiet. Peaceful. Place is huge with many campsites to choose from. Checking in is slow so come early.
Wharton Forest has several campgrounds.
We tent camped at Atsion in 2015: had flush toilets and was close to the checkin station/store as well as the beach on the lake. Some sites were right on the water and the sites were very big.
We wanted a more rustic experience and tent camped at Bodine campground in 2018. Our site was right on Wading River and we launched our kayaks right at the site! Our tent is has a full view of the sky and at night it was like a planetarium as we admired the sky from our cots. Pit toilets, pump water, fire ring, nice big site. Road in is sandy but it is the pine barrens. Although we were there on Friday the 13th, sadly neither Jason or the Jersey Devil stopped by for s’mores.
Good campgrounds. There was moderate traffic and a few other people while I was there. Everyone was respectful inconsiderate. Facilities were under average.
I haven't seen a review since 2017 and that should have been my first clue. Let me start by saying the check in area was nearly 12 miles away from the site. At the site there were no bathrooms. One outhouse which smelled like death for the entire camp site. I would say there had to be about 60 people using one outhouse NO FLUSHING! Ewwwwwwwwwwwww Camp sites were one on top of the other. There were no clearly marked roads and several cars got stuck in the sand area, one car even drove through our site during the night. Luckily we werent run over. There were no picnic tables either. If you didnt have a table and/or chair you stood all weekend. The road leading to the actual site was full of twists and turns and we nearly smashed into a tree coming out of a turn doing about 20 mph. The police patrolled at 730 pm, 930 and then 1130. THERE WAS NO INTERNET, CELLULAR SERVICE. That didnt bother me but the fact that if there was an emergency there was no way to contact police was pretty alarming. I honestly didnt think the mosquitos or bug situation was bad. There was a questionable tick but didnt see much more than spiders and ants. The lake/beach area also 12 miles away was really nice. You could rent a paddle board, canoe or kayak for a reasonable fee. We will not be back because of the unkempt roads, no running water.(Hey if you want only port a potties ok but put enough to be sanitary for the 60 or so people you jam in on top of each other.) and no way to reach the outside world in an emergency.
Awesome campground! Always a fun time camping and driving around this park! Gorgeous!
NOTE: There are LOADS of ticks in this area.
This campground is hike-in or boat-in only, no car access. We camped here for one night on an overnight loop in Wharton State Forest. Wild blueberries abound during summer months!
Individual sites are closely packed, which was not a problem as we were the only ones there. Any more than 2-3 groups of campers and this ground would start to feel claustrophobic. Site boundaries are pretty clearly marked, and each has a fire ring.
Batsto River provides plenty of water for filtering--don't be weirded out by the brown color caused by tannins. River access at higher-numbered sites is marshy, water flow and quantity is more substantial downstream from the lower-numbered sites.
Trash bags are provided, but no trash receptacles, so pack it out! There is a pit toilet, but did not check its status.
This campground (Goshen Pond) was mostly empty while we were there in August. Our site was very quiet, but a lot of the sites are close together without any barriers, so if the campground got crowded it wouldn't be very private. It's only a one minute walk from the parking area to the site. Our site was right next to the Mullica River, and had excellent views if you walked just a couple steps from the tent. We were able to put our kayaks in right next to the site which was very convenient. It's also a 5 minute drive from Atsion lake, a great place for kayaking and swimming.
they are primitive, pet-friendly, hike-in sites with direct access to the Batsto River. The hike in is about a 1/2mile so you need to be conservative with gear but if you plan correctly the peace and quiet is well worth it. Not suggested for the rookie camper!