Apple Pie Hill

Ever climbed a fire tower? Well… DON’T!

Wandering around the Pine Barrens today looking for a Northern Shrike or two that have been reported, I came across Apple Pie Hill. It’s supposed to be the highest elevation in Southern NJ (at a whopping 209 feet above sea level) with a terrific view of the Pinelands. I’d always thought you had to hike in on the Batona Trail to find it, so hadn’t worked up the courage to try it alone yet. I often get lost (every darn road down there looks the same – sugar sand and pitch pine – how can you not get lost!), but as often happens, I stumble across something I’d been meaning to find at one time or another.

Anyone care to guess how far up those rickety stairs I got before having a panic attack? Vertigo to the point that I was afraid to move? Very weird. The wind and the dog barking from the car below didn’t help any.

Here’s the view from the bottom of the tower (when I wasn’t afraid to let go of the scaffolding and raise my arms to take a pic!). Worth clicking for a view of nothing but trees stretching all the way to Atlantic City 30 miles or so to the southeast and Philly 30 miles or so to the southwest.

18 thoughts on “Apple Pie Hill”

  1. Oh, my toes would be so curling. For some reason, I hate heights, but don’t mind things that go around.
    Got it–I am fine with roller coasters, etc. but stay OUT of ferris wheels! And fire towers!

  2. You did better than I could. When I was young, I often went up the fire tower with my friends near the lake where we swam in northeastern Oklahoma. There is no way I would attempt it now. I like your view from the bottom. Sounds pretty there, pitch pine has a lot of character, don’t you think? The trees remind me of pioneers who hang on to the earth at any cost.

  3. This is just great – we have fire towers around here too! And I am also prone to a fear of heights.

    My father was a US Forest Service Ranger in the Southwest US – Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma – when I was a small child and fire towers featured strongly in his career at that time. I gradually became aware of them as we gradually moved east, and in no case did I become comfortable climbing them.

    And yet, I adore them. We have one here in northeast Georgia, unused now that spotter planes have taken over the job, just ten miles north of here. Glenn and I have often talked about whether or not we could afford to somehow have it dismantled and moved into our fire district. We feel strongly that it is unappreciated where it is. Strictly a matter of preservation of something we’ve come independently to love.

  4. You brave girl you! Bravo for even trying. My brain would tell me I could, but I’ll bet I’d also be hanging on for dear life. Lovely view you did capture though.

  5. KGMom: Scared of Ferris’ Wheels? Can’t believe that.

    Sandy: Funny, I had no inkling there would be a problem until it was too late!

    Pitch pine is nice, but can be monotonous after a bit. There’s oaks too, and blueberries for some other color, but it’s all very green – nice!

    Wayne: I doubt this one is in use any longer, other than by locals who like to pitch stuff off the top – the ground below was littered with pumpkins and broken-up tv sets.

    I’d guess the others that dot the barrens are still used, as most are fenced.

    Do you know if they’re always red and white? The ones here are anyway.

    Xris: I thought it would be fun too! I don’t think the climb itself would be a problem (just 60 feet tall, I think), but stopping on a landing to appreciate the view was not such a good plan.


  6. WOW!! I’m impressed that you even tried. When I was a kid my family was forever climbing fire towers. Not me! Art and the kids climbed one a few years ago in far northern Minnesota. I had to sit at a pcinic table just to look up and even then my head was spinning!

  7. spent many a saturday afternoon in that tower, as well as a few others, when i was a kid in the sixites. my uncle bill used to take me to the pine barrens when he was scouting places for tree stands or just to mooch around. he knew all the local residents of the pines and all the fire rangers and would have us up for a look around while they shared some coffee and a smoke. the pines in those days were still no-man’s land, pretty spooky and most definitly empty. i hate going down there these days, it breaks my heart to see how much they’ve been invaded by “civilization” and how mistreated they are by weekend warriors in their 4wd’s and such. we used to tread places that only the pineys went, spent much time with the Albert brothers, in their place off 539, listening to them and their friends play music and tell tall tales about the pines. they’re really a special place for me, but, like i said, i hate seeing what’s happened to them.

  8. I would not have gotten far, either, Laura! My fear of heights keeps me away from Ferris Wheels, too, and there is a dream I have occasionally of crossing the Chesapeake Bay on one of those rickety, swinging, walking bridges.

    You are brave and I’m glad you were able to catch the view you did :o)

  9. The Apple Pie Hill fire tower is especially disconcerting because you can see the ground through the stairs. For me, coming down is more of a problem than going up, mainly for that reason. I love the view from up there, though.

  10. Lynne: Hi! I always suspected you were the down to earth type.


    Gregor: I’m afraid it’s that way with most special places from our childhood. They’re never the same as we remember and our grown-up eyes are more cynical, I think.

    It does seem mostly like a no-man’s land to me down there, but I’ve no memory to compare it to.

    I stopped in at Buzby’s in Chatsworth and talked with the old lady there for nearly an hour. Is she an old-time local, do you know? Seems like a real character at any rate, and was quite helpful with directions. I got lost anyway, but it was nice of her to try!

    Mary: I have bridge issues too, but of a different sort. Heights never bothered me before?

    John: You’re absolutely right – the see-thru stairs were killer! And all that wind!

    Susan: Lighthouses are never a problem – we didn’t do Cape May, I think, because you were too busy dangling your toes in the ocean at every opportunity. We didn’t do lots of things that weekend – ran out of time, I guess.

  11. Sounds like fun; I would’ve been scared, but I like to think I’d have gone to the top just to get the view and a photo for posterity!

    Nice photo, BTW–proof (for Kat) that NJ isn’t all factories and Atlantic City!

  12. Amazingly enough, I did climb a fire tower once. I had to stop and collect myself at every turn of the stairs, but I made it to the top. Never again, though!

    The towers are gradually disappearing around here.

  13. Liza: But the view was worth it!

    Delia: Heck no, it’s not.

    Deb: Really? How scary was it up at the top?

    Someone has told me that there are places where you can rent these overnight – imagine that in the dark!

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