I didn't realize that driving off a paved road and into the woods was not as easy for most New Jersey residents as it is for me.

I'm pretty close to Wharton State Forest, the largest in the state. Dirt roads from Wharton lead out to several state highways and county roads all over Burlington County. When I was in high school we would just drive out to the "woods" to get lost or get into trouble, and we did both a few times.

Sure, there are state parks all over the state, and most of those have paved roads. But if you want to, as the country song says "get a little mud on the tires," you have to visit one of our state forest.

And if you ever wanted to drive on the beach there are a few seasonal options, but the most popular stretch of sand for that year-round is Island Beach State Park. There is a fee (weekend or full season) and you are required to have about 10 different items with you for safety reasons. Check with Island Beach State Park for all the rules and requirements.

Many of us have SUV's and rarely if ever take them off road. I've been doing it for years since my kids were little and they loved it. Give it a try. The ones farther north offer some challenging hills to climb as the forests down south are flat and easier to drive.

  • Wharton State Forest - South Jersey
  • Penn State Forest - South Central Jersey
  • Jenny Jump State Forest - Northwestern Jersey
  • Stokes State Forest - Northwestern Jersey
  • Worthington State Forest - Delaware Water Gap Area
  • Lebanon State Forest - South Central Jersey
  • Brendan T. Byrne State Forest - South Central Jersey
  • Bass River State Forest - South Jersey
  • Belleplain State Forest - Far South Jersey
  • Abram S. Hewitt State Forest - Far North Jersey
  • Ramapo State Forest - Far North Jersey
  • Norvin Green State Forest - Far North Jersey

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