For a lot of people who only know New Jersey from TV shows like "The Sopranos" and "Jersey Shore", the dense nature of the Pine Barrens can be a bit of a surprise.

But for those of us who live here and travel the area regularly, we know what the middle of the state has to offer.

Well, mostly.

The Pine Barrens offer nearly endless recreation opportunities, with plenty of places for hiking, canoeing, camping, bird watching, and lots more. Our dense forests are a great destination.

But they also have their own air of mystery, too.

Of course we all know about one of New Jersey's oldest legends, with the stories of the Jersey Devil, who is said to call the Pines his home.

But there's also something else that's always caught my eye when traveling across Ocean and Burlington Counties - the dirt paths that are littered throughout the area.

Whenever I drive the main roads that criss-cross the Pine Barrens, like Route 70, Route 539, and Route 72, there are regularly shady looking dirt paths that shoot off of the highways.

I'm sure that most are ATV trails, motorbike trails, and hastily constructed connections to homes and private property. But I have to believe that there are some that lead to, well, who knows?

Do we have our own community of moonshiners?

Are there mysterious cults and secret societies headquartered down those paths?

Maybe it's just my active imagination and fondness for all things unexplained and they really are just trails and roads, but there's that part of me that wants to believe that there are things going on down there that would make for a good episode of "The X-Files".

So what do you think is hidden in the Pine Barrens? Let your imagination run wild and tell us your conspiracy theories in the comments section!


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