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Wharton State Forest - Apple Pie Hill


7
  
 
Ringler Avenue, Southwest of Chatsworth, NJ
Phone: (609) 561-0024
www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/wharton.html

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Exit the Franklin Parker Preserve and turn Left onto CR 532/Chatsworth Road. After 0.7 miles turn Left onto Ringler Avenue, through old brick gateposts. Continue on paved portion of Ringler Avenue for 0.3 miles. When the road curves left, continue straight onto the sand road. This road appears as New York Avenue on some maps. Continue through intersections with other sand roads for approximately 1.7 miles to the parking area by the fire tower at top of Apple Pie Hill.

DIRECTIONS FROM NEAREST HIGHWAY:  From Route 563 South at the intersection with Route 532 at Chatsworth fire house, turn Right on 532 West. After 1.4 miles turn Left through old brick gateposts onto Ringler Avenue. Continue on paved portion of Ringler Avenue for 0.3 miles. When the road curves left, continue straight onto the sand road. This road appears as New York Avenue on some maps. Continue through intersections with other sand roads for approximately 1.7 miles to the parking area by the fire tower at top of Apple Pie Hill.   Map

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ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk; somewhat isolated. Hunting is permitted in specified seasons.

The sand road may sometimes be soft or muddy, especially after a rain event. Do not attempt to drive through puddles or sugar sand. Park your vehicle and proceed on foot.

SPECIAL FEATURES:  The fire tower is good for above-canopy observation. Although the top of the fire tower is closed, the adventurous may care to climb up to one of the tower stages for a better view. This tower may become active again in the future. Be sure to respect all Forest Fire Service regulations and activities. For more information contact New Jersey Forest Fire Service, Division B at 609-726-9010.

British Soldiers Lichen
British Soldiers LichenTony Geiger
 
SITE DESCRIPTION:  At approximately 205 feet above sea level, Apple Pie Hill is the highest point in the Pine Barrens. From the parking area at the top and from the stages on the fire tower, there is an unimpeded view of uninterrupted forest and wetlands to the Northwest, North, and Northeast. This is a good spot from which to view soaring raptors and songbirds in the canopy. The site is also used as an observation point by stargazers and amateur astronomers because of the clarity of the sky and minimal light pollution.

DON'T MISS:  Climbing the tower on a clear day and seeing Atlantic City to the East, and Philadelphia to the West. This is arguably the best view of the Pine Barrens. A visit here is a good way to get a sense of the size and majesty of the preserved and undeveloped areas of the Pines, a wild island sitting in the middle of the Northeast Corridor.

THROUGH THE SEASONS:  
Winter:  View the scenery from the top of the tower, unimpeded by leaves, and perhaps have a close view of soaring vultures and hawks. Common Raven can sometimes be seen and heard from here. Wintering flocks of Chickadees, Titmice, Kinglets, Nuthatches, White-throated Sparrows, and Juncos are present and can usually be cajoled out of hiding with some pishing. Cladonia cristatella, a tiny lichen commonly known as British soldiers, is abundant in the woods near the tower. Look for its red caps on pale green stalks, growing in association with darker green mosses.
Spring:  Leatherleaf, blueberries, fetterbush, maleberry, staggerbush, and sheep laurel bloom from mid-April to early June. Male American Woodcocks begin their displays in open areas beginning in early April. Pine Warblers, Eastern Towhees and Gray Catbirds return by mid-April. Bearberry begins to bloom in early to mid-April. Pine Elfin and Henry’s Elfin, Spring Azures, Holly Azures and Mourning Cloak butterflies appear with the flowers. The uncommon sand myrtle begins to flower along the sand roads approaching the hill. Whip-poor-wills and Common Nighthawks return by mid-May. Look for turkey beard flowing along the roadside in late May, along with golden heather, pixie and pine barrens sandwort.
Summer:  Mountain laurel flowers during June. Turkey beard is in bloom by early June. Birds are in full song in June and Whip-poor-wills continue their nightly chorus regularly through the end of July and into August. This is the best time to keep an eye out for snakes and lizards such as Hognose Snake, Five-lined Skink and Fence Lizard. With a bit of luck, you may glimpse a black bear distantly foraging for berries.
Fall:  Asters, goldenrods and snakeroots are in peak flower in September and early October. Kettles of Broad-winged Hawks are occasionally seen from the top of Apple Pie Hill in mid-September. A variety of raptors, including Northern Harrier, Red-tail Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Merlin, and Osprey, can occasionally be seen here during migration.


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