Picture Stockton... hiking, printing and learning about the pines

Pinelands Summer Short Course

Hammonton, N.J. - A group of hikers listened to ascending notes of birdsong as they crossed the Mordecai Swamp in Wharton State Forest on one of the 1808 trail's log bridges. "That's a pine warbler singing," someone called out after getting confirmation from the Merlin Bird ID app. 

The hikers were participants of the 8th annual Pinelands Summer Short Course on June 28. Stockton Continuing Studies & Adult Education and the Pinelands Commission hosted the event at Stockton University's Kramer Hall in Hammonton with field trips in the surrounding area. 

Sisters Rosemarie Mason and Diane Mason, of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey, led a hike along the 1808 Trail blazed in 2022 and maintained by their club. The former logging trail got its name from a map dated 1808 that showed a road connecting Crowleytown, now Buttonwood Campground, and Batsto Village.   

Prickly pear cactus dotted the sandy soil that soon led to a cedar swamp fringed with spongy sphagnum moss. Rosemaie shared that the absorbent moss was once used in diapers by Indigenous peoples. 

She also pointed out the mountain laurel that forms a light pink floral tunnel along the trail during the June bloom--a great reason to revisit next spring. 

Hikers reached out to pick berries from the highbush blueberry plants offering free trail snacks. 

Back at Kramer Hall, Oren and Tommy, a pine snake and a box turtle, joined staff from Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge for a presentation on New Jersey's reptiles. 

In another classroom, Robert Sprague, president of the Native Orchid Conference, used macro photography to give viewers a close-up view of the pineland's more than two dozen species of wild orchids. 

Those who joined artist and author Laura Bethmann stamped nature into creative prints made out of leaves collected in the pinelands. 

View the photo series below for visual highlights from the day. 

Story and photos by Susan Allen



It was a bee-autiful day to explore South Jersey's pinelands. Hikers gathered outside the Batsto Village Visitor's Center to join sisters Rosemarie Mason and Diane Mason, of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey, to hike the 1808 Trail. 



The former logging trail that was overgrown with cat brier and dense foliage was cleared and converted to a hiking trail by the Outdoor Club of South Jersey in 2022. Pictured are Rosemarie Mason, Diane Mason and Vincent Kuczynski, who helped to build the trail. 


Pinelands Summer Short Course Photo 1
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Pinelands Summer Short Course Photo 7

Judy Austermiller, a lifelong gardener of Marlton, signed up to hike the 1808 for her fifth short course. While hiking the Batona stretch back to the parking lot, she said of the experience, "I love it. One of my ambitions was to be able to walk through a white cedar swamp, and I got to do that." 

"There are not many of them left. I wanted to be able to experience it. I like the smell," she added. 



A bay scallop shell print by Laura Bethmann, author of "Hand Printing from Nature," was on display as a sample for participants. 


pine snake

Oren, a state-threatened northern pine snake, likes the sandy soils of the pinelands. 



Turtle shells and snake sheds demonstrate the reptile biodiversity in the pines. 



Robert Sprague, president of the Native Orchid Conference, shares the life histories of the orchids of the pines. 


Kramer Hall

Stockton Kramer Hall in Hammonton has its own unique history and hosts community events. Learn more and stop by to visit soon.