The Forked River Mountains
The Forked River Mountains are the centerpiece of a vast wilderness area located in the Pinelands of Ocean County, New Jersey. The mountains, actually a pair of prominent sand and gravel hills, form a ridgeline between the Cedar Creek and Forked River watersheds. The larger of the two hills, East Mountain, rises 184 feet above sea level. The area's extensive forests remain relatively undisturbed as does the network of pristine Pineland streams found flowing there.
The area is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Majestic stands of Atlantic white cedar, sour gum and red maple grow along the streams; white-tailed deer, gray fox and beaver are common throughout the area. Many threatened and endangered species are also found there - plants like the New Jersey rush, bog asphodel and swamp pink and animals like the pine snake, timber rattlesnake and elusive Pine Barrens treefrog.
The Forked River Mountains are also rich in culture and history. Sand trails that criss-cross the area once carried the forest products from traditional Pine Barren industries such as charcoal, cedar and bog iron. As the industrial revolution came and went, so too did the old Tuckerton Railroad. Today many of these trails are used for recreation by hikers and bikers alike. Much of the area's folklore has been put to music by the "Pineconers" and other local musicians.
The mountains themselves provide a scenic vista from which much can be seen - the vast pine forest, Old Barney (lighthouse) and the historic Lakehurst hangars. In Autumn, the area's hardwood swamps explode into brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. A blanket of snow turns the entire area into a winter wonderland.
Yet, for all the area has to offer, the future of this unspoiled wilderness is uncertain. Even though this pristine area has the same qualities as the pinelands inner-most preservation area, the majority of land surrounding the mountains is located in the outer protection area where development is allowed. Most of the area remains privately owned and is threatened by encroaching development and expanding sand and gravel mines.
Today we are still discovering all that the Forked River Mountains have to offer. Your help is urgently needed to preserve this rich wilderness so that our children and grandchildren can discover it once more. You can help preserve the Forked River Mountains and the vast wilderness that surrounds them by joining the Forked River Mountain Coalition. Comments and suggestions are welcome, just send us an e-mail.