Hike Distance: 8.19 miles
Trails: (in order) Burnt Meadow (green), Highlands (teal), Stonetown Circular (red triangle), Lake Sonoma (orange), Manaticut (yellow), Overlook Rock (white), Tapawingo (blue), Burnt Meadow (green)
Mountain(s): Horse Pond Mountain, Mount Harrison, Long Pond Hill
What a day. Temperatures were in the low 80s with lots of sunshine. I had been to Norvin Green State Forest before, but I hiked the southern trails. And, I had (unknowingly) been to Long Pond Ironworks State Park before when I hiked the Stonetown Circular trail. I ended up hiking a little over a mile on the Stonetown Circular trail today and it was nice to see a familiar section of the trail.
Of note, there are not as many pictures as normal. I had read that this hike would be one of solitude, except around Lake Sonoma. However, when I reached the pull-out parking lot, it was already packed. Luckily, I found a space. But I would soon learn that a large group was meeting up for a hike. And they were loud, and not making any effort to hide that fact. I took off and hoped they would stay behind. However, they caught me at the top of Mount Harrison. They took a break, as their drill sergeant really pushed them up to the top. I took off, and thought I heard them once more, but never saw them again.
From where I parked I took Burnt Meadow up to Horse Pond Mountain. Horse Pond Mountain has been on my list a while so it was good to find a good route to get here. I had heard the views of Monksville Reservoir were impressive, and they were; however, there was lots of foliage And I couldn’t see as much as I would have liked.
From there, it was south on the Highlands trail.
The Highlands Trail goes straight up Mount Harrison, no switchbacks, no real curves; just straight up hill. I remembered when I hiked the Stonetown Circular trail that Mount Harrison would be the fifth peak you climbed. And it was brutal. It was no less brutal going up the Highlands trail. I stopped for a good couple of minutes to get something to drink and cool down. It was neat being in a familiar place and knowing this short section of the trail.
There were lots of mushrooms and fungus about. I found it odd to find these Ghost Pipes in broad daylight.
Not one, but TWO cars off the trail in Jersey. Where else. (Of course, I had seen both of these before. Still.)
Just before meeting the Lake Sonoma trail, I went through a small wetlands and almost stepped on this guy.
The Lake Sonoma trail meets the Stonetown Circular trail at a section of Burnt Meadow Road that is closed to vehicular traffic. I remember this junction from my last hike, and it was off into the woods instead of continuing on the Stonetown Circular trail.
The Lake Sonoma trail headed over a large hill. There were portions of the trail where I got the distinct feeling I was the first person on the trail in weeks. A couple of times the trail just disappeared. Excuse my finger in this picture.
I just kept walking towards blazes, and it all seemed to work out. This happened a couple of times, and I thought I would be covered with ticks. (Spoiler, I wasn’t.) Most of the berries I saw were past their prime.
Eventually, I made my way to Lake Sonoma; where I thought I would run into more people as the lake is more easily accessible from a lot close by. However, I didn’t see a sole.
There was a nice breeze by the lake, so I hung around a bit. After, it was up to Overlook Rock. Where the Overlook Rock Trail is joined by the Manaticut Trail, you will come to a sizable rock in front of you, a little off trail. Scramble up, it’s only about four feet or so…but then you will have a huge view. The rock drops down quite a bit and is really quite big – but you don’t see that from the trail. Lunch was served here.
After lunch, it was north on the Overlook Rock and Tapawingo trail. A word of caution here….there were spiderwebs EVERYWHERE. I can’t tell you how many times I walked through them. Fortunately, a park ranger got one of my attempts on camera.
No, I didn’t actually run into the spike trap, but I could have.
One complaint I had is that the Tapawingo trail isn’t the best marked in this section. I know that the NY NJ Trail Conference is building some trails and re-blazing others. But there are a couple of spots that are downright confusing. There are significant blow downs in the area, and one or two areas that are vastly overgrown. More than once I needed to pull out GPS.
Just before merging with Burnt Meadow (which led to the car) there was a large rock that the trail paralleled and eventually climbed up onto – with very nice views for the short walk.
After finishing the hike I stopped at the Long Pond Ironworks State Park Museum which is run by the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks. Secretly, I was hoping they had vending machine to get something to drink. They didn’t. But the museum is neat and I definitely learned something about the area, the history, and certainly who many of the trails were named after.
I hope to come back and see the more historical side to Long Pond Ironworks State Park.
Ticks: 0 (And I’m still shocked by that)