Charles has long experience fishing, hiking, exploring, and camping in the Northeast.
When you Arrive
Batsto is an historic iron production town lost to time and the discovery of cheaper production methods. Prepare to immerse yourself in the old way of life and see just how people lived, worked, and survived in a picturesque New Jersey pine barren town.
Batsto is situated along the scenic Batsto river and Batsto lake. An approximately one-mile slow and easy hike awaits you. I recommend stopping by the visitors center first. On the way into the visitors center, grab a brochure next to the welcome sign. This will contain a listing of all the historic sites in the village. There is a phone number to call in the brochure that provides an audio walking tour of Batsto.
Check out the small but very informative museum contained within the visitors center. You might want to use the bathroom if needed now, it may be a while before you make it to the restrooms at the other end of the village. Check out some of the inexpensive topographical maps offered by the NJ Division of Parks and Forestry.
If you are like me, you will probably become fascinated by the pine barrens and their lost industry and tales. You will cherish those maps when you come back to explore. Save the gift shop till last and pick up a few of the Jersey Devil souvenirs. Awesome bumper stickers if you look carefully for them. Exit the doors through the gift shop in the back and head towards...." The Big House".
The First leg of the Hike
Don't miss the Bog Ore Barge display and Bog Ore samples located to the left after leaving the visitors center. On the right, there are very old chicken coops, and farther off to the left is a mansion, ice house, and the center of the village. Ore barges were used to transport the Bog Ore up and down the rivers to the surrounding iron furnaces and forges in the area.
Center of Town
After leaving the bog ore display, you will come to the town center. Spend some time here and explore the surrounding buildings. You will be surprised by the age and the superb condition of these buildings. This area is truly rich in New Jersey history and the village itself will seem to come alive as you explore and imagine yourself here over 200 years ago at the edge of the great New Jersey Pine Barrens.
This area was my daughter's favorite part of the hike. Being a six-year-old was no sweat for this hike. She loved the feeling of exploring and never got tired. This is a great area for the little ones to burn off steam and check out all of the buildings' nooks and crannies. Kids will probably notice the small details we grownups miss.
Lake Area, Dam, and Cottage Photos
Lake Area, Dam, and Cottages
Moving on from the center of town you should come to a dam and spillway. Located in this area are the spillway and fish ladder, a charcoal kiln used to make charcoal for cooking and use in the iron furnace, an old furnace site, and the lumber mill which is in excellent shape for its age.
A short walk from the lumber mill is the nature center. I have never been inside as it was always closed during my trips. Look for the artesian well at the Nature Center.
Just past the mill is the site of the glass factory (a plaque about the history of the glass factory should be located just off the dirt road you are traveling on.) You should be able to see in the distance, the small cluster of cottages that used to house the workers and their families.
Look for the green audio tour marker near the first cottage on the left as you approach from the direction of the Mill. Spend some time here as this is the end of the hike. Restrooms are located here in one of the cottages on the left. Look for the sign near the door. I hope you enjoyed this installment of Day Trip New Jersey and stay tuned for more episodes to come. Visit: Batstovillage.org for more info.
Directions and Map.
My Short Film: Exploring Batsto
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Charles Kikas