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Wharton State Forest - Harrisville Lake


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Chatsworth Road, Jenkins Neck, NJ
Phone: (609) 561-0024
www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/wharton.html

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Exit the parking area at Bass River State Forest and turn Right onto Stage Rd. After 1.3 miles turn Left onto CR 653/ Leektown Rd. After 1.1 miles turn Right at CR 679/ Chatsworth Rd. After 4.2 Miles turn Right into a sandy parking area, just beyond the Harrisville Lake Dam.

DIRECTIONS FROM NEAREST HIGHWAY:  From the Garden State Parkway Southbound, take Exit 52 toward New Gretna and turn Right at CR 564/East Greenbush Road. After 1.4 miles bear Left onto CR 653/Leektown Road. After 1.1 miles bear Right onto CR 679/Chatsworth Road. After 3.9 miles turn Right into a sandy parking area, just beyond the Harrisville Lake Dam. From the Garden State Parkway Northbound, take exit 50 toward New Gretna. Continue onto Route 9 North. Proceed 1.5 miles and turn Left on CR 679/North Maple Avenue. After 6.6 miles turn Right into a sandy parking area, just beyond the Harrisville Lake Dam.   Map

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ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk.

SPECIAL FEATURES:  Martha’s Furnace: From the sand lots at Harrisville Lake, turn left onto Chatsworth Road, and less than 0.25 miles after crossing the dam, look Left for another sand road. This is marked on some maps as “Martha Road.” Park off to the side and hike up the road, passing clearings on the Left near the lake where old structures of Harrisville stood. After 1.6 miles there are more sand roads intersecting with “Martha Road.” These are marked as “Martha Furnace Road” and “Calico Road” on some maps. This is where the town of Martha stood, which was an even larger mill town than Harrisville.

A CLOSER LOOK:  An excellent video podcast about the history of Harrisville can be found at www.pinelandsalliance.org/history/harrisvillepod. A detailed written account can be found at www.njpinebarrens.com/ghost-towns/the-rise-and-fall-of-harrisville

Veery
VeeryLloyd Spitalnik
 
SITE DESCRIPTION:  Harrisville was a rather successful 19th century Pine Barrens town centered around a paper mill, which thrived for about 50 years before being outcompeted and falling into dereliction. The land was subsequently bought up by Joseph Wharton, who maintained the village in fairly good condition until his death in 1909. In 1914 a forest fire swept through Harrisville, after which vandals and weather took their toll, leaving only the few crumbling walls and foundations that stand today. Harrisville Lake has since reverted to a typical Pine Barrens lake, with tea-colored water, abundant and unique wildlife, and a serenity that is unrivaled anywhere in the state.

DON'T MISS:  In late May or early June, canoe or kayak the Oswego River, arguably the most wild and pristine example of a Pine Barrens River, an experience essential to a true understanding of this unique landscape. Put in at Oswego Lake and end at Harrisville Lake, or for a slightly more challenging paddle, do the reverse.

THROUGH THE SEASONS:  
Winter:  The atmosphere is quiet and calm. Ring-necked, Black and Wood Duck can be found when the lake is not frozen, as well as Mallard, Canada Goose, Tundra Swan and Belted Kingfisher. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Red-headed Woodpecker are likely to be found with some effort, and possibly Pileated Woodpecker with some real dedication. Scan flocks of Goldfinch and House Finches for Pine Siskin and Purple Finch. Golden-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers mix with Chickadees and Titmice. Listen for the insect-like trills of Cedar Waxwing, and the slow tin-horn honks of Red-breasted Nuthatch. Some years, winter “irruptions” of boreal species occur. Evening Grosbeak, Red and White-winged Crossbill and Common Redpolls are always possible. Watch for beaver, river otter, and raccoon, near the water’s edge. With extreme luck, one may even glimpse mink, weasel, or bobcat.
Spring:  Exploring the lake by canoe or kayak is highly recommended. The woods are alive with songs of Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Wood Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Brown Thrasher, and Eastern Towhee, as well as spring peeper, gray and Pine Barrens treefrog, wood frog, cricket frog and others. Chipmunks and red squirrels scamper in the leaf litter. Orchids and bladderworts bloom along the lake’s edge, as well as the carnivorous pitcher plants and sundews. Insect Repellant recommended.
Summer:  Exploring the lake by canoe or kayak is highly recommended. Insect repellant is essential. June is a good time to go “herping,” or searching for herpetiles, along the lake’s edge. Leopard frog, green frog, bullfrog, red-spotted newt, tiger salamander, marbled salamander and mud salamander are among amphibians to search for. Painted, spotted, red-bellied, snapping, mud, wood, and box turtle are present and the best time to see them is on warm days, when they might be found basking or laying eggs at the edges of trails. Northern water snake, Eastern hognose, pine snake, black racer and black rat snake are all present as well, but will take some patience to find. Dragonflies and damselflies are abundant on the reeds and grasses at the lake’s edges, and fish such as pickerel, largemouth bass, bluegill, and darters bask in the warm shallows.
Fall:  Canoeing or kayaking is still enjoyable, particularly because the lake will be less crowded. Butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies are active through October. Wildflowers, pond lilies, and grasses turn beautiful hues of red and brown. Warblers and songbirds such as Gray Catbird, Wood Thrush, Veery, American Robin, and Red-eyed Vireo again move through the woods, and raptors such as Osprey, Bald Eagle, Black Vulture, Red-shouldered, and Cooper’s Hawk fly overhead.


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