Getting lost in the solitude of Ponders Tract

Miles and miles of loblolly pine trees line trails within Ponders Tract. BY RON MACARTHUR
March 26, 2012

It's easy to get lost in the solitude of Ponders Tract in the Pemberton Forest Preserve near Milton. The 10 miles of trails offer the rare chance to commune with nature in the wilds of a thick forest where the only sounds you hear are birds and the wind rustling through the abundant loblolly pine trees.

The sounds of nature are in stark contrast to the sounds of trucks, chain saws and equipment that once filled the air in the woods. For decades, the area was a loblolly pine tree farm owned by the Glatfelter Lumber Company.

Since 2004, the 908 acres of Ponders Tract have been owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.

The environmental group is taking on the admirable task of restoring Ponders Tract to what it was during colonial times. The Conservancy is implementing state-of-the art timber thinning practices to transform the loblolly pine forest into a native coastal forest of oak, hickory, tulip poplar, red maple, sassafras, Virginia pine, shortleaf pine and numerous woodland shrubs.

It's a project that won't happen overnight, but efforts are already becoming evident. The Conservancy has transformed 240 acres of loblolly pine tracts into native coastal woods.

Ponders Tract, located off Route 16 near the Route 30 intersection outside of Milton, is one of Sussex County's hidden jewels. It's a great place to go take a hike and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

  • Ron MacArthur has lived and worked in Sussex County all his life. As a journalist for more than 40 years, he has covered everything from county and town meetings to presidential visits. He also has a unique perspective having served as an elected official and lived on both sides of the county.

    Contact Ron at