The Dot and Brooks Evert Memorial Trail Preserve is located in the middle of New Jersey on the north-western edge of the Pine Barrens. It is near Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, the Michael Huber Warbler Preserve, and an entrance to the 53.5-mile Batona trail. The preserve is maintained by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. The entrance is along the curiously named Ong’s Hat road; it is easy to miss, especially if someone is tailgating you while you’re trying to find it.
It is near the ecological border between the Pine Barrens and the divide between inner and outer coastal plains. You won’t find the sandy soil and multitudinous pine trees typical of the Barrens — instead, the Evert Trail Preserve is mostly swamp, streams, and trees growing from small lumps of ground periodically rising above the swamp. This is a unique experience! The trail is constructed from planks of wood seemingly floating on top of the swamp. It’s not for horses, bicycles, or ATVs — I weigh north of 250 pounds at the moment, and there were times I was sure I would sink. Good balance and concentration are necessary. This trail/preserve is best for hikers, naturalists, and birders.
Spoilers! Here is a video of part of the trail:
Along the way you’ll see hundreds if not thousands of different types of swamp-loving fungi and plants like this Swamp Loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus):
And even though it is 50 minutes from Leeds Point, I’m sure the Jersey Devil has been here. It’s the spookiest and most memorable trail in New Jersey.
More stories from the Pine Barrens: