Hike Distance: 6.35 miles
Trails: Highlands Trail (teal), Pine Swamp (white), Blue, Ogden Mine Railroad (green)
It was cloudy all through the hike, and at one point, I thought I was going to get rained on. Luckily, that did not happen. Mahlon Dickerson Reservation is a large Morris County park with lots of trails, camping, and the highest point in Morris County. I pulled into a basically empty parking lot, that was not full on my return. I saw very few people on the trails.
I parked at the Saffin Pond lot, and took a spur trail to the Highlands Trail at the south end of the pond. It must have rained the night before, or shortly before my arrival because the ground was damp, and I could hear the water falling from the canopy. Trails were soft, but not overly muddy.
The Highlands Trail is being re-routed at the southern end of the pond. At times it runs over the Yellow trail as well.
All of the water crossings had bridges to help in the crossing. By this bridge was one of the biggest Skunk Cabbages I’ve ever seen.
I made my way over to Headly Overlook, which had one of the two serious climbs on my hike. On a clear day I should have been able to see Lake Hopatcon in the distance; I couldn’t today. Further, there are lots of leaves on the trees, obscuring much of the view – it’s probably nicer in the fall, or early spring. However, I could still see for quite a distance.
Lots of these guys out again:
Crossing the camping parking lot, I picked up the Pine Swamp trail. This trail would have the second serious climb of the day, taking me to the highest point in Morris County. There’s not a view at the top, but a cool sign marking the location.
Unfortunately, it is where I found my first tick of the day.
I did not follow the Pine Swamp trail further, but backtracked to the Blue. The weather was getting darker, though all forecasts stated a zero percent chance of rain. I did not really want to take the chance.
Where the blue trail junctions with the Ogden Mine Railroad there is a pond facing you. I heard lots of frogs and crickets. I didn’t see any turtles in the water – where I thought I might.
The Ogden Mine Railroad trail is flat and wide – and I did not see one blaze on it until the end. (I could just barely make out a blaze going the other direction from the junction.) However, you really can’t get lost on this – it’s pretty wide and very well defined.
For a brief minute you will be in Sussex County. Once you cross back into Morris County, there will be water and wetlands on your left. At one point Weldon Brook spills into Toomey’s pond.
Just before the trailhead, I ran into an old favorite.
This is a really nice park, and I wish I were here on a better day weather-wise. My only complaint:
Some trails are hikers only, some allow both horses and bikes. I didn’t see any horses, I did see where bikes had been. I wouldn’t mind coming back to camp here and hit some of the trails I did not hike on this trip. If you come, make sure to wear long pants.