Exploring New Jersey’s Pinelands in Winter

Even in winter, the New Jersey Pinelands promises a wealth of possibilities for fun, whether outdoors or simply out for a scenic drive. This spectacular area blankets the Southern Shore Region and surrounding counties, and that’s where we’re headed right now!


A Natural Year-Round State, National and Global Treasure

The New Jersey Pinelands encompasses an amazing 1.1 million acres and is part of the Pinelands National Reserve, the largest forested area on the Eastern Seaboard between Maine and the Florida Everglades, and a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. It’s legally protected and comprises most of the Pine Barrens, New Jersey’s truly unique ecosystem.

In this fascinating region, a refuge for rare wildlife and plants, find a surprising array of scenery, habitats and species. Also dwelling here are a singular culture, distinctive towns (and ghost towns!), historic sites and mysterious legends.

Unearth the NJ Pinelands This Winter

With such a huge area to navigate, and a landscape that changes with each season, where can you delve into the possibilities? Start at the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, which provides an extensive, online guide to recreational opportunities. Another great resource is the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, which recommends these 14 “gateways," a diverse assortment of county and state parks, forests and preserves. 

Invigorating Activities For Outdoor Enthusiasts

All year long, the area’s terrain invites myriad sports and activities. In winter, the Pinelands transforms to host sledding and snowmobiling, in addition to hiking, cross-country skiing and more. Chill at New Jersey’s state parks and forests, like Belleplain State Forest (covering portions of Cape May and Cumberland Counties), Parvin State Park (Pittsgrove), Bass River State Forest (covering portions of Burlington and Ocean Counties), Wharton State Forest (covering portions of Atlantic, Burlington and Camden Counties) and Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (Woodland Township).

Into birding? Bird watching can be exciting—even world-class—in the Pine Barrens. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (Galloway) spreads across 47,000 acres of coastal habitats along one of the Atlantic Flyway’s most active flight paths.

In winter, thousands of American black ducks and Atlantic brant call it home. Peep bald eagles, short-eared owls, buffleheads, common goldeneyes, horned grebes and red-breasted mergansers, plus diving waterfowl in the back bays and songbirds along hiking trails.    

So Delightful From an Indoor POV Too

If outdoor sports just aren’t your thing, or you’re seeking shelter or a change of pace, the Pinelands delivers. Embark on a trip along the Pine Barrens Scenic Byway, traversing 130 miles of roadways. The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail stretches nearly 300 miles along New Jersey’s Shore and bays, including Pinelands areas.

Whatever your interest, and whenever you come, you can extend the fun when you stay overnight in Southern Shore destinations like Cape May or the Wildwoods to explore more down the shore.