Well, here it is, finally, the review of Jenny Jump State Forest. First, a couple of preliminaries. I made a decision right when I created this blog that I would moderate the comments. This means that, before I post the comments, I will review them. So, if you comment on a blog post your comment might not appear right away because I make sure that i read them through before posting them. This is simply because I want to make sure that some random person doesn't post something offensive in the comments. This does not mean that I won't post something if someone doesn't agree with me, but only that I won't post something if it's from someone I don't know and I feel that it will be incredibly offensive to someone I do know. Also, I would love to respond to every comment on every blog post, and that was my initial intent, but I don't think that it is a realistic goal. I wish that it was. I may comment back now and then, but, please don't take offense if I don't comment on something that you write. Please know that I do read all of the comments (obviously, since I moderate them all) and that I thank you so much for writing.
Now, on to Jenny Jump. The first thing I have to say is that a state forest like Jenny Jump proves that New Jersey does, in part, deserve the name of the "Garden State." Obviously, large cities like Trenton and Newark and the mess and smoke and urban sprawl that naturally come with large cities dominate the rather slim state of New Jersey. But there are plenty of beautiful spots here, and Jenny Jump is one of them.
From hilltop vistas to beautiful hiking trails, Jenny Jump is a sight for sore eyes. Here are a few pictures for proof.
A view from the Ghost Lake trail.
A view from the Summit trail.
Another view from the Summit trail.
A view of the Summit trail.
The campsites themselves are quite nice. There are both roadside and walk-in campsites. Roadside ones are a few feet off of the road. Walk-in sites are either 25 yards or 75 yards from the road that runs through the forest. Sarah and I chose a 25 yard walk-in site, and it was perfect. Each site has a fire pit, a bear-pole to hang trash/food (although they highly recommend putting trash and food in your car trunk for safety) a picnic table and plenty of cleared space for tents. The State Forest also has eight "cabins" which are log-structures with an outdoor fire pit and picnic table, an indoor wood-burning stove and four bunk beds. And the Forest has two group sites, one for about 20-25 people, the other for about 40-60. All of the campsites are close to restrooms that are cleaned regularly (and thoroughly) for those who really don't like to use leaves for toilet paper and to dig a pit in the ground. The staff at Jenny Jump was extremely nice and very helpful (even staying a few minutes late so that we could finish registering and giving us advice on where to get cheap firewood). Here are a few pictures of our campsite:
The picnic table and our tent and camp chairs. Notice that you cannot even see our car. The path goes down directly from behind our camp chairs.
Me, starting a fire at our fire pit. You can see its proximity to the tent and picnic table.
Sarah and I were in Jenny Jump during the week at the end of the summer, after labor day, so our time there was pretty quiet. But, as far as we can tell, Jenny Jump is not very well known in New Jersey (we had difficulty finding reviews and websites about it, and many of those reviews mentioned how quiet it was). Nevertheless, for us it was very quiet and we had a very relaxing time. None of the hikes were more than two miles, and, while several of them had a few challenging spots and some steep inclines, they were generally accessible and very fun. There are a few campsites and I think one trail that are disability accessible.
A few drawbacks: the forest is close to a few major highways (including I-80), and traffic noise is heard amongst the many forest noises of squirrels and owls. There are black bears in the area, so you have to be very careful with food and other things. This fact especially left me a little jumpy and cautious, as we rarely had to concern ourselves with bears in Utah, and so I hadn't dealt with them before. But the office does provide information and hints on bears, and if you follow their advice you should have a great time. Also, ticks. There are ticks in New Jersey forests, and in Jenny Jump. Some of them carry Lyme Disease and other ailments. So, another thing that you have to watch out for. Wear long pants, use bug spray. Again, the office has hints. Of course, I couldn't sleep well the first night after reading the guides on bears and ticks, but the fear faded soon (ish). Finally, the Ghost Lake is not as pretty as it looks in pictures. It's not bad, but it's not very big and it actually is not open for fishing right now. The hiking trail there was beautiful in its own right, but I was underwhelmed by the lake. Still, we came at the end of summer, and perhaps it was more beautiful early on. Here are a few pictures. Judge for yourself:
This is pretty much the extent of the lake. It was full of lily pads and weeds and you could tell why it was called Ghost Lake. It seemed haunted.
There were a few beautiful lilies in the lake. We also saw a few wild turkeys, but we couldn't get a picture of them. By the way, did you know that Male Turkeys can fly up to 50 mph and grow a "beard?"
Overall, the trip was wonderful and relaxing and I would recommend the Jenny Jump State Forest to anyone interested in camping in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. Tomorrow: Beauty in Jenny Jump. Thanks, as usual, for reading.