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Pemberton Rail Trail - Closed For Business

The Pemberton Rail Trail in New Jersey is a two mile Y shaped trail on the western edge of the Pine Barrens, adjacent to the Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst Joint Base. The trail is planned to be a part of the Rancocas Creek Trail which if completed would traverse an east west line across Burlington County. It would also link up with the Kinkora Trail to Roebling.

Pemberton is a military town that features a traditional small town business district. On the north edge of this district is the former Pemberton Railroad Museum, an abandoned station restored in the 1990's that due to a dispute with Township Officials has been closed for two years. Shortly after the closure of the station the Township closed the Rail Trail as well. The Pemberton Rail Trail which was mostly paid for with State DOT funds and Federal Rec Trails grants enjoys the distinction of being the only trail on the Circuit that is closed to the public.

Looking at the rusting chain link fence and Christie Whitman's "2000 more miles" I couldn't help but think that this is what it probably looked like before the investments were made to build the trail and restore the station. Despite the foreboding feel the trail seems to remain popular among the locals who ignore the No Tresspassing signs. Dog walkers and people on their lunch break follow a loop between the north and south forks of the trail. Interestingly enough the south entrance to the trail (next to the canoe rental) has no warning signs and appears to be open.

If Pemberton cannot realize the economic value of being a trail town then perhaps its time for Burlington County to take the trail off their hands. Resurface the trail (porous asphalt would be nice), put up new signs and move forward by extending the trail east and west.

This is what a closed trail looks like, and its part of the The Circuit.