Menantico Ponds WMA
Route 49 South
The Menantico Ponds are definitely where nature waved its magic wand. Yes, I am full of exquisite corniness. It encompasses over 300 acres of rustic splendor and is a real treat. The ride alone in traveling down the tree-lined concrete path is nature’s beauty hard at work.
A long long time ago, like in the 1950s (yes, very ancient). This area was a booming sand mining facility. It was so large they shipped out sand via trains that came into the land. In fact, sand mining has always been big in this area. Due to the nature of the Pine Barren land, it is a very sandy surface. This occurred from glacial periods of freezing and unfreezing. Then the Pines were once entirely underwater. In essence, the Pines are a big barren beach with abundant and unique plant life all around. They are some of my favorite areas to explore in NJ, the Pineys.
There is also an urban legend of this area (or perhaps really happened) of an occult murder. In 1971, a man asked his friends to bind his hands and feet and to throw him in one of the ponds. He died and was found 3 days later. He thought his death would make him a satanic ruler and would rise up to conquer legions.
Such occurrences and stories are quite common here in South Jersey. Whether it be fact or fiction, it still is one of those “sit around the fire” stories you hear. I didn’t find one thing creepy about the place. In fact, it is quite tranquil.
The entrance is quite hard to miss. I went up Port Elizabeth Road to Route 49. It quickly came upon my left. A nice long drive back will have you stopping to check out both ponds. The one pond to the left is a beautiful blue hole. Pristine. The water is so clear you can see to the bottom. It is a nice steep drop to walk down so bring good hiking shoes. A lot of the area of the lake is nice and shallow. Truly beautiful.
On the other side, is the more “Pine Barren” cedar-looking body of water. Abundant plant life on the lake floor. There’s a boat ramp on this side. It seems to be the larger of the ponds.
I then parked the car to yonder. I walked a path to the train tracks and saw a few old mining ruins. They’ve been left of days of old.
It was a beautiful exploring day. I was alone and at peace with myself. Not a soul was around and this Piney woman was very happy. I wish I had a kayak to truly explore these beauties. I’m told it’s something you don’t want to miss. It is quite an avid fishing spot. You can launch your boat and have a great relaxing day.
Side Note: This is a WMA so use caution if adventuring in the fall/winter months. Due to possible encounters with hunters. Keep dogs (never really permitted in WMAs FYI) close due to possibility of getting caught in hunting traps.