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Barnegat Branch Trail

The Barnegat Branch Trail (BBT) is an approximately 16-mile linear "rail-to-trail" project that will extend from Barnegat Township to Toms River Township. The public trail, which lies primarily along the abandoned Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ), and including 1.0 mile of existing trail and proposed road and sidewalk connections, will be developed and constructed in several phases.

Guiding the design and management of the trail is the "Conceptual Plan for the Barnegat Branch Trail", which was released in August 2007. The Conceptual Plan was coordinated by the Planning Department and authored by Strauss & Associates/Planners with support from subconsultants Melillo & Bauer Associates/Landscape Architects. In 2008, the BBT Plan was awarded a Merit Award for Land Planning and Analysis by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

To date, Phases I – VII of the trail, totaling 11 miles (7.8 contiguous) in Barnegat, Ocean, Lacey, and Berkeley Townships, are complete and receiving high ridership. Included along these phases are several designated parking areas, improved road crossings, landscaping, benches, signage, mile markers and linkages to other trails and parks.

In May 2013 the County opened the Country Lane Trailhead Facility in Waretown. The trailhead features bathrooms and a display area that highlights the history of the railroad and surrounding area. This trailhead facility is the first of several planned comfort stations for the trail.

In 2014, Ocean County Parks Department acquired property on Route 9, adjacent to the Forked River Middle Branch and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge property. It is currently under design for trailhead development. Construction is anticipated for 2020.

It is the County’s vision that the BBT will be more than a recreational park; rather, when complete, it will be a vital transportation corridor, as well as a valuable environmental and historical resource and an enormous asset to Ocean County residents and visitors alike.