penn state forest

Penn State Forest: Explore New Jersey Parks

Penn State Forest is a 3,366-acre state park located in Burlington County, New Jersey. It is a part of the environmentally sensitive Pine Barrens region and offers various recreational resources for visitors. The park features Oswego Lake and the Oswego River, providing opportunities for boating and fishing. Additionally, there are miles of unpaved roads that can be enjoyed by hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and those interested in four-wheel driving. Hunting for deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, and small game is permitted in season. The park is home to the Pine Barren Plains, a globally rare dwarf forest ecosystem. Penn State Forest is operated by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

Key Takeaways:

  • Penn State Forest is a 3,366-acre state park in Burlington County, New Jersey.
  • The park offers recreational resources such as boating, fishing, hiking, and hunting.
  • The Pine Barren Plains within the park are a globally rare dwarf forest ecosystem.
  • Penn State Forest is operated by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.
  • Visitors can explore the park’s scenic Oswego Lake and river, as well as its miles of unpaved roads.

Essential Information for Visitors

When planning a visit to Penn State Forest, there are a few key pieces of information that visitors should keep in mind to ensure an enjoyable experience. Familiarizing yourself with these essential details will help you make the most of your time in the park.

Park Rules and Regulations

First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of the park’s rules and regulations. While exploring the forest, remember that the recreational use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is not permitted. Smoking and the use of electronic smoking devices are also prohibited to ensure the safety and well-being of all visitors. Furthermore, alcohol is not allowed within the park’s boundaries.

Park Cleanliness

Penn State Forest prides itself on its pristine natural environment, and visitors are encouraged to help keep it that way. There are no trash receptacles available in the park, so it is crucial to carry out any trash you may generate during your visit. By taking responsibility for your own waste, you contribute to the preservation and cleanliness of this beautiful natural area.

Safety Precautions

As with any outdoor adventure, it is important to take necessary safety precautions when visiting Penn State Forest. Tick protection is recommended due to the presence of these small arachnids in the park. Additionally, visitors should be aware of the potential presence of bears and take appropriate precautions, such as storing food properly and keeping a safe distance if encountered. By being mindful of these safety measures, you can fully enjoy your time in the park while minimizing potential risks.

Park Highlights

park highlights

Penn State Forest offers several highlights for visitors to enjoy. One of the main attractions is Oswego Lake, a picturesque spot for picnicking and kayaking. The lake is surrounded by white cedar and pitch pine forest, providing a scenic backdrop. Additionally, visitors can explore the Pine Barren Plains, a unique ecosystem characterized by stunted growth of trees. The park also features the remains of an early Civilian Conservation Corps camp, which served African American enrollees in the 1930s. Exploring the sand roads that run through the forest allows visitors to discover these and other highlights.

Exploring Penn State Forest offers a chance to immerse oneself in the natural beauty and unique features of the park. Whether it’s spending a serene afternoon by Oswego Lake, witnessing the fascinating Pine Barren Plains, or delving into the historical significance of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp, visitors are sure to find something that captivates them. The sand roads that wind through the forest provide an opportunity for adventure and exploration, leading visitors to various attractions within the park.

Penn State Forest is a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of experiences. From tranquil picnics by the lake to discovering the wonders of the Pine Barren Plains, this park is a gem waiting to be explored. Whether visitors are seeking relaxation, adventure, or a deeper understanding of the park’s history, Penn State Forest has something to offer everyone.

Activities in Penn State Forest

activities in Penn State Forest

Penn State Forest offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast, a wildlife observer, or simply looking to immerse yourself in nature, the forest has something to offer for everyone.

1. Hiking

Hiking is a popular activity in Penn State Forest, thanks to its miles of unpaved roads and trails. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you can explore the diverse landscapes and scenic beauty of the forest. From towering pine trees to tranquil lakeshores, there are numerous trails to choose from, catering to different skill levels and preferences.

2. Wildlife Observation

For wildlife enthusiasts, Penn State Forest provides ample opportunities to observe a variety of animal species. From snakes and lizards to turtles, birds, and even rare plants, the forest is teeming with biodiversity. You can witness the vibrant birdlife, including Blue Jays, Cardinals, and spectacular Great Blue Herons. Remember to bring your binoculars and camera to capture these incredible moments.

3. Boating and Fishing

With its picturesque Oswego Lake and the Oswego River, Penn State Forest offers opportunities for boating and fishing. Whether you prefer kayaking on the calm lake waters or trying your luck at catching fish, these waterways provide a tranquil setting to enjoy outdoor aquatic activities.

So, whether you’re seeking an adventurous hike, a chance to observe wildlife in their natural habitat, or a peaceful boating experience, Penn State Forest has it all. Plan your visit and immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of this natural haven.


picnic spots

While Penn State Forest does not offer camping grounds or overnight accommodations, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy picnicking at the picturesque Oswego Lake. The designated picnic area provides a serene atmosphere and beautiful views, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely outdoor meal.

At the picnic area near Oswego Lake, there are primitive restrooms available for visitors’ convenience. Please note that visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and supplies for picnicking, as there are no on-site food or beverage services. Remember to pack everything you’ll need for a delightful picnic experience amidst the natural beauty of Penn State Forest.

Exploring the Area

exploring the area

When visiting Penn State Forest, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area and discover nearby parks and trails. Located near the unincorporated communities of Jenkins Neck and Chatsworth, the forest offers easy access to a variety of outdoor destinations.

One nearby park worth exploring is Bass River State Forest, located to the north of Penn State Forest. Bass River State Forest covers over 23,000 acres and offers a range of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, and boating. It is home to various wildlife species, making it a popular spot for wildlife enthusiasts.

To the south of Penn State Forest, you’ll find Wharton State Forest and the main portion of Bass River State Forest. Wharton State Forest is the largest state forest in New Jersey, spanning over 122,000 acres. It is known for its diverse habitats, including rivers, forests, and wetlands, offering opportunities for hiking, camping, canoeing, and more. Exploring these neighboring parks and trails allows visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area and expand their outdoor adventures.

Table: Nearby Parks and Trails

Park/Trail Location Activities
Bass River State Forest To the north of Penn State Forest Camping, hiking, boating
Wharton State Forest To the south of Penn State Forest Hiking, camping, canoeing

Services and Facilities

When visiting Penn State Forest, visitors can expect a range of services and facilities to enhance their experience. Although the park offers limited amenities, there are essential provisions available to ensure a comfortable visit.

Upon arrival, visitors will find a sand parking lot where they can securely park their vehicles during their visit. It is recommended to lock all personal belongings and ensure the vehicle is properly secured.

While exploring the park, it is important to note that there are no designated camping grounds or overnight facilities available. However, visitors can enjoy picnicking at the designated picnic area near Oswego Lake. This area features primitive restrooms for convenience.

It is crucial to keep the park clean and preserve its natural beauty. As such, there are no trash receptacles provided within the park. Visitors are kindly requested to carry out their trash and dispose of it responsibly elsewhere.

To ensure a pleasant and enjoyable visit, it is recommended to plan accordingly and come prepared with any additional supplies or necessities needed during the visit to Penn State Forest.

Services and Facilities Availability
Parking Lot Available
Camping Grounds Not available
Restrooms Primitive restrooms available at the picnic area
Trash Receptacles Not available

Park History

The history of Penn State Forest is a fascinating journey that spans centuries. The story begins in the early 19th century when the land was inhabited by the Lenape tribe of Native Americans. Their presence in the area highlights the deep historical roots that connect the park to its indigenous heritage.

In the 19th century, a small settlement called Penn Place was established along the beautiful Oswego River. This marked the first human settlement in the area and served as a stepping stone for the park’s future development. The state recognized the natural beauty and value of the land, leading to its purchase in 1910. Thus, Penn Reserve was born, eventually evolving into the beloved Penn State Forest we know today.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps embarked on a project to create a network of gravel roads within the park. This not only provided access and recreational opportunities for visitors but also created jobs during the challenging period of the Great Depression. The dedication and craftsmanship of the CCC can still be appreciated in the roadways of the forest.

Throughout its history, Penn State Forest has played multiple roles. During a military exercise in 1941, the park served as the temporary division headquarters, showcasing its significance even in times of national importance. The forest has also been a champion of environmental preservation, playing a vital role in the protection of the unique Pine Barrens region. Its commitment to conservation and fostering a deep appreciation for nature continues to this day.


Is camping allowed in Penn State Forest?

No, Penn State Forest does not offer camping grounds or overnight accommodations.

Can I swim in the park?

No, swimming is not permitted in Penn State Forest.

Are pets allowed in the park?

Yes, but pets must always be on a leash and cleaned up after.

Are ATVs allowed in the park?

No, the recreational use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is not permitted in Penn State Forest.

Can I fish in Oswego Lake?

Yes, fishing is allowed in Oswego Lake.

Can I hunt in Penn State Forest?

Yes, hunting for deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, and small game is permitted in season.

Are there picnic areas in the park?

Yes, there is a designated picnic area near Oswego Lake where visitors can enjoy picnicking.

Are there trash receptacles in the park?

No, visitors are encouraged to carry out their trash as there are no trash receptacles available.

Can I bring my own food for picnicking?

Yes, visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and supplies for picnicking in Penn State Forest.

Can I kayak in Oswego Lake?

Yes, Oswego Lake is a great spot for kayaking.

Are there overnight accommodations in the park?

No, Penn State Forest does not offer overnight accommodations.

Source Links

Scroll to Top