Trail Guides
Wharton State Forest - Carranza Memorial

Carranza Road, Tabernacle, NJ
Phone: (609) 268-0444

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Exit Apple Pie Hill parking area and follow the sand road back to Ringler Avenue. Continue straight onto the paved portion of Ringler Ave. Turn sharp Left onto CR 532/Tabernacle-Chatsworth Road. After 6.5 miles, bear Left to stay on Chatsworth Road. After 1.8 miles turn Left on Carranza Road. After 5.1 miles, you will cross a small bridge and the road will bear left. Proceed 1.5 miles and turn Right into the sand parking areas for the memorial.

DIRECTIONS FROM NEAREST HIGHWAY:  From the traffic circle at Route 206 and Route 70 (Red Lion traffic circle), continue on Route 206 South. After 2.7 miles turn Left on Route 532/Chatsworth-Medford Lakes Road. After 1.2 miles turn Right on Carranza Road. After 5.1 miles, you will cross a small bridge and the road will bear left. Proceed 1.5 miles and turn Right into the sand parking areas for the memorial.   Map

ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk. Wearing blaze orange or other bright colors recommended in hunting season.

A CLOSER LOOK:  A national hero often called "The Mexican Lindbergh," Emilio Carranza was on his way home from a goodwill flight to New York when his plane went down in the Pine Barrens during a thunderstorm on July 13, 1928. The crash made headlines worldwide, and Mexico went into a state of mourning. Mexican school children raised funds to have the 12-foot tall stone monument built, which features an Aztec falling eagle and various other inscriptions. Every year, on the second Saturday of July, the American Legion Post of Mount Holly conducts an annual weekend-long memorial service. It is one of the more colorful and diverse events of the year in the Pines. For details, see the Mount Holly American Legion Post 11 website at www.post11.org/carranza

Black Racer
Black RacerJohn Parke
SITE DESCRIPTION:  The Carranza Memorial in Wharton State Forest, southwest of Tabernacle, represents an interesting and atypical story in the history of the Pine Barrens, and is a must-see at least once in an extended exploration of the region. In a clearing in the forest at the site is a concrete monument erected in honor of Emilio Carranza, a Mexican aviator who crashed and died nearby during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1928. Carranza Road itself should be driven slowly, as it passes through representative Pine Barrens uplands with pitch pine and pine oak forest, and scattered areas of bare sand with xerophytic (desert-type) plants. The road also transects wetlands predominated by red maples, Atlantic white cedars, and sour gums, with an understory of highbush blueberry, sweet pepperbush, and other shrubs. The headwaters of Tupelhocken Creek, which flows into the West Branch of the Wading River, are nearby.

DON'T MISS:  Drive Carranza Road after dark between May and August to hear the repetitive calling of Whip-poor-wills, Chuck-Will’s-widow, and Common Nighthawk.

Winter:  Gray and red squirrels rustle in ground litter as they search for their food caches. Barred Owl and Great Horned Owls can sometimes be heard calling at night from nearby uplands and wetlands. Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper's Hawk are usually present year-round, as well as mixed flocks of Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Occasionally flocks of Evening Grosbeak and Pine Siskin will overwinter.
Spring:  Breeding birds such as American Woodcock, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Common Nighthawk, and Whip-poor-will return each year. Barred Owl calls regularly in the evening, as does Screech Owl, and sometimes Great Horned Owl. Populations of bearberry flower in April. Golden heather and goat's rue flower in late May and early June. This is a good site to look for snakes. Species to be found here include Hognose, Northern Black Racer, Milk, Northern Pine and Timber Rattlesnake. The latter two are rare, protected and should be left alone if encountered. Fence Lizard is also present and on chilly mornings in April they move much more slowly. Butterflies including pine, Henry's, and frosted elfins can sometimes be seen here in April and early May, along with several species of azure, mourning cloak, and tailed blue.
Summer:  Whip-poor-wills, Common Nighthawk and sometimes Chuck-will's-widow call regularly in this area from dusk to dawn, a trifecta of species difficult to achieve in most of New Jersey and the Northeast. Barred Owls and Screech Owls call occasionally at night Visit near dusk to see bats and moths becoming active.
Fall:  Goldenrods, asters, and snakeroots are in full bloom through September. Migrating songbirds include American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black-and-White Warbler, Hermit Thrush and Northern Oriole. November brings the “rutting” season, when white-tailed deer will be active in their mating routines.

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