def #101 05/19/10
RAIL TRAIL CELEBRATION ON TAP FOR JUNE 5
WITH just more than 3 miles completed, Ocean County’s Barnegat Branch Trail is already providing residents and visitors
with a unique view of the natural side of Ocean County.
The trail, which winds through wooded areas and natural lands starting in Barnegat Township and traveling through Waretown
so far will be highlighted on National Trails Day, June 5.
“We are encouraging our residents from throughout Ocean County to visit us at the southern start of the Barnegat Branch
trail on Saturday, June 5,” said Freeholder Director James F. Lacey, who serves as liaison to the trail. “Wear your
sneakers, ride your bike, just take a break and enjoy what nature has to offer right here in your own backyard.”
Since 1993, National Trails Day has inspired thousands of individuals and community groups to take part in activities that
promote healthy living and mental well being, protect green space, educate youth and adults on the importance of trails and
instill excitement for the outdoors, according to the American Hiking Society, the founder of National Trails Day. The theme
for this year is “Find Your Happy Place.”
Representatives from Ocean County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the designers of the Barnegat Branch Rail Trail and
the Board of Chosen Freeholders will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Burr Street parking area in Barnegat Township
to offer information about the trail and other related county programs and services.
“I want to encourage everyone to join us and not only learn about our trail but experience it,” Lacey said.
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has been constructing the Barnegat Branch trail in phases with the first two
Construction is expected to start in early summer on the third phase of the trail and be completed by the fall.
“This section will travel through a beautiful area of the Pinelands in Ocean County with Cedar Creek being a centerpiece,”
The trail, when completed will be a 15.6-mile linear park that runs from Barnegat Township to Toms River Township.
“This park is unique to Ocean County and features areas that residents and visitors may not have been able to experience
since they are deep in our natural woods. Each time we add to it, the park grows in popularity, ” Lacey said.
The Barnegat Branch trail follows the existing right of way of the former Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad
of New Jersey.
Over the last 20 years, abandoned railroad lines like the Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey
that once ran through a portion of Ocean County have been transformed into trail parks in nearly every state in the country.
“Under the county’s plan, this abandoned rail line is being improved to link Barnegat Township to Toms River Township, and
in the process will offer residents and visitors a new type of recreational trail experience,” Lacey said.
Upon completion, the Barnegat Branch Trail will join the list of 43 existing and proposed rail trail projects across New
To get the trail under way, in October 2002, Ocean County purchased 8.8 miles of the old railroad in three towns – Berkeley,
Ocean and Barnegat townships. This purchase was supplemented in 2004 when Lacey Township granted to Ocean County an
easement over its 4.8-mile trail segment. Coupled with the existing bike path in Beachwood and the incorporation of a
dedicated bike lane along Flint Road in South Toms River, the completed trail will span 15.6 miles from Barnegat Township
to Toms River Township.
“The design of the Barnegat Branch Trail is sensitive to the changing landscape of central Ocean County,” Lacey noted.
“Trail visitors will experience wooded areas in Barnegat and Waretown’s southern reach before transitioning into an
active-use corridor that parallels Route 9 north of Waretown.
“Residential and commercial neighbors border much of the trail through Lacey Township before it returns to forest and then
sand mining in Berkeley Township,” he said.
The primary surface finish of the trail is a stone dust surface. As work progresses, the trail will feature a number of
trail facilities including community centers, comfort stations, trail signage and historical exhibits.
The facilities are being built in a style reminiscent of passenger and freight stations that once served Barnegat Township,
the Forked River section of Lacey Township, the Pinewald section of Berkeley Township and Toms River.
Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, noted that
several Ocean County parks and county natural land areas are located within walking or bicycling distance of the Barnegat
Branch Trail including Lochiel Creek in Barnegat Township, Berkeley Island County Park, Wells Mills County Park in Waretown
and Enos Pond County Park in Lacey Township.
“This trail not only offers the user the opportunity to see nature at it’s best in Ocean County, it offers access to Ocean
County’s premiere park sites,” Bartlett said. “It’s a perfect combination.”