We opened the door to the cabin and stood silently, our mouths agape. In years visiting the woods, we’d never seen anything like this.
A beautiful brand new cabin!
The bunks were feathery soft. The carpentry was stunning, each board fitting together perfectly.
No sleeping on a bare floor tonight!
This is Brendan Bryne State Forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This unusual ecosystem of pine trees and sandy soil is home to many rare plant and animal species, including 274 kinds of moss!
My friends and I unpacked our gear and started a fire, grilling up steaks and salmon burgers. Sitting around that fire, the concerns of daily life faded away like the smoke.
After a fine night’s sleep in the cushy bunks, we wolfed down ham and eggs and set off for a hike. The hiking is easy in the Pine Barrens, with flat terrain and well groomed trails.
We wondered at the beautiful conifers and placid ponds, often content with saying little.
As we made it back to camp, our friend Victor* pulled up! He had been tied up Friday but didn’t want to miss this wonderful weekend entirely.
Together, we cooked burgers, apple gouda sausages, and even a savory chili over the flames. We joked and laughed, untroubled by the need to get home at the end of the night.
Come Sunday morning, we all sat around after breakfast, reluctant to begin packing. It would mean the trip was over.
But pack we did, already planning our next visit.
Brendan Byrne has both cabins (with plumbing and electricity) and “shelters,” which was the simpler cabin we stayed in. I found it more than adequate, and at about $50 a night for Jersey residents, it’s a steal!
Now is the perfect time to visit the Pine Barrens!
The weather’s getting warmer but the ticks have yet to emerge. Enjoy this unique world while you can!
More on New Jersey:
*not his real name
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