Harriman State Park – Almost Perpendicular, Elbow Brush, Claudius Smith Den, Black Ash Swamp

Park Site

Trail Map – official – I used the NY NJ Trail Conference Map 118

Distance: 6.61 miles

Trails:  Blue Disc (blue circle on white), Ramapo-Dunderberg (red circle on white), Kakiat (white)

Mountains:  Pound Mountain, Big Pine Hill

My Map:

It was 22 degrees at the trailhead.  I hadn’t been out in over a week due to rain, and I have re-hiked some trails over the past couple of weeks.  I wanted to get back into Harriman.  While it rained at home the night before, I did not consider the amount of snow that would be on the ground in the park.  This fact may, or may not, play into the hike.  None the less, I started with hat, gloves and jacket over the fleece.  In the shade, it remained cold; however the sun felt great.

Snow was still on the ground, and did not disappear until the sun was high overhead and above the surrounding mountains. I started out on the Blue Disc trail.

False Turkey Tail

The first stop of the day was Almost Perpendicular, a rock scramble to a cliff.  There’s nothing like scrambling before 9:00 in the morning.

The views, though, were spectacular.

The Reeves Meadow Visitor Center can be seen in the distance.  It’s (relatively) empty in this picture, I’m sure it was a madhouse later in the day.

Lots of Needle Ice, and it made a crunching sound when walking on it.

After Almost Perpendicular, it was a fairly level walk until Elbow Brush.  There was lots of icicles and melting snow on  Elbow Brush.

I liked Elbow Brush, it’s similar to the Lemon Squeezer, further to the north.  Here’s a picture looking into the rocks.  It’s not the best picture due to the position of the sun.  Ultimately, you enter where the middle shadow falls.

Here’s what it looks like inside:

Elbow Brush

After Elbow Brush, the trail heads to Claudius Smith Den. While rounding a curve I almost ran into this guy.

The Blue Disc trail junctions with the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail at Claudius Smith Den.  Claudius Smith Den is allegedly where the outlaw Smith and his gang hid out during the Revolutionary War.  There is a cave a short way down the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail, but I did not investigate.  There was a group that was camping (probably right in front of the cave) – and probably illegally – and I did not want any part of it.  If I do the hike again, I’ll go to the cave.  Here’s a shot of the rocks.  I scrambled to the top using the Blue Disc Trail.

The view from the top:

And here’s where I get in trouble.

At the top I stopped to talk with a group of women – we had been leapfrogging each other since the parking lot.  They were taking the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail to the right for a more gentle trip back to the car.  Originally, I had planned on the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail to the left, but looking at the map, that would get me back to the car in about an hour.  Too short.  Looking at the map, I could finish the Blue Disc trail then come back down the Ramapo-Dunderberg and add about another mile and a half.  That felt right.  The women at the top were not going to risk the downhill (off Big Pine Hill) but mentioned that since I had trekking poles, it “shouldn’t be that bad.”  Shouldn’t be that bad?  I’ve always gotten in trouble when I extend or change my plans.

Side note:  I am in the middle of reading Harriman Trails, by William J. Myles and Daniel Chazin.  If you have ever read the trail descriptions on the NY NJ Trail Conference page, they were likely written by Daniel Chazin.  The book is excellent (I highly recommend) but it is more a guide and historical reference.  Do not get the book thinking it will help plan routes.  It can add color, but it is not for planning.  It has an excellent history of the trails, roads, lakes that make up Harriman and Bear Mountain state parks.  Sure, there are trail descriptions, but there is so much more.  The following sentence concerning the Blue Disk trail stands out to me:  “Blue Disc now descends steadily, for much of the way over bare, sloping rocks that are often slippery in winter.”  I don’t know how I missed that, or didn’t retain it when I read it.

Here’s a shot looking off the back of Big Pine Hill, with Black Ash Swamp in the center.  This is before the downhill.  The swamp is right behind the bare tree in the center of the picture.

You’ll notice there is still snow on the ground.  And those rocks?  They were slippery.  Many coated with ice.  The leaves didn’t help.  In the summer, this is a great downhill.  Snow covered?  Not so much.  It was here that I remembered why I tend to head south during the colder months, to avoid this situation.  I have microspikes on the way.

The trail comes to the southern end of Black Ash Swamp.

Blue Disc ends at Tri-Trail Corner, where the Ramapo-Dunderberg and Victory trail all converge.

Tri-Trail Corner

I was going to take the Ramapo-Dunderberg back from this spot, but it looked like I would have to backtrack.  Ramapo-Dunderberg crosses a stream, and the rocks didn’t look inviting.  Neither did the water.  I fell a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t want to make that mistake again.  Conveniently, the Blue Disc trail uses a natural dam to cross the water.

The swamp is on the other side of the rocks.

A little spur trail connects the Blue Disc with the Ramapo-Dunderberg. I have been on the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail a bunch of times, though not in this section.  It was mostly a woods road.  The trail does go past the Black Ash mine, though I didn’t find the mind (and wasn’t bushwacking in the snow on a hill to find it.)

I junctioned with the Kakiat trail to head back to my car.

Not my car, but close.

This section of the Kakiat is mostly woods road.  Part of it is near Route 87, so there is some road noise.  It eventually turns away and heads back towards the Blue Disc trail.

Annoying Insects – 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  11/19/2022

Harriman State Park – Car Pond Mountain, Parker Cabin Mountain, Tom Jones Mountain, Black Rock Mountain

Park Site

Trail Map – official – I used the NY NJ Trail Conference Map 118

Distance – 7.07

Trails – White Bar (white), Triangle (yellow), Ramapo-Dunderberg (Red dot on White), Dunning (yellow), Nurian (White)

Mountains – Car Top, Parker Cabin, Tom Jones, Black Rock

My Map

After getting clobbered by chiggers last week in the Pine Barrens, I thought I would return to the mountains.  Certainly, I thought the temperatures would have killed off most of the bugs.  It was 37 at the trailhead, though I passed through areas were it was down to 34.  And, with the sun out, the temperatures rose into the 50s making for a perfect day.  There were sporadic groups of hikers out, though I saw a scout troop heading up Tom Jones Mountain, likely making for the shelter.  And there was a scout troop at the Bold Rock shelter.

The hike starts by going up Car Pond Mountain from the parking lot.

Then, there is a big descent that drops lower in altitude than the parking lot.  There is a nice view right off the back of Car Pond Mountain.

I took the Triangle trail east to head up Parker Cabin Mountain.  Right near the top was a solo hammock camper – he mentioned that it got near freezing at night.  At the top was brilliant sunshine.  (For the first part of the hike I was in the shade as the sun had not risen above the mountains.)  The view from the top of Parker Cabin is expansive.

From here I took a jaunt over to Tom Jones Mountain.  Between each of the mountains was a descent, which meant an ascent to the next mountain.  Usually, the elevation gain was not too bad.

The Tom Jones Shelter is at the end of a spur trail off the top of Tom Jones Mountain.

The view from the shelter is pretty nice too.

From there, I found the top of Tom Jones Mountain and had a snack.  The sun was pretty warm, and views were almost 360 degrees.

Walking across the top of Tom Jones mountain I could see where I was headed next, Black Rock Mountain.  This would be the only mountain where there would be significant elevation loss, and a climb back up.  The trail goes down to the road, then climbs back up Black Rock Mountain.  This picture sort shows the detail.  At the end of the rock, the trail drops down significantly.  In about a half hour, I would be standing at the top of the mountain in the center of the picture.

The climb up from the roadway is pretty steep in sections, with one or two rocks to scramble up.  At the top I reached my favorite viewpoint of the day, with 270 degrees of view.

After sitting for a while and having another snack, I had a decision to make.  The Nurian trail leaves from here and would get me back to my car in about a half hour.  However, about a half hour up the trail would be the Bold Rock shelter, and I could loop back to my car adding about two miles.

I took the long route.

Walking the top of Black Rock Mountain is walking mostly on exposed rock.  The Black Rock lookout is just as nice a view as the others.  This would be my highest point of elevation in the hike.  Most of the trail looks like this (until it heads back into the forest.)

I found the Bold Rock shelter.  It appears to be the same size as the Tom Jones shelter, though doesn’t have a view right in front.  A short hike to the back leads to a view, that will be better when the leaves fall.

Here’s a shot of the bear hang.  There was a bear hang at the Tom Jones shelter too.  Apparently, bears have learned to check the shelters for food.

Behind the shelter a scout troop was setting up camp.  And closer to the view, there were others that had pitched tents.  It would be busy at this shelter tonight.

Many many years ago I backpacked in the snow in Harriman, and we stayed at a bigger shelter.  I remember all of us fitting in the shelter, so it could not have been either of these two.

I picked a good weekend, the colors were out.  I’m not sure it is peak, but there were spots of vibrant colors all around.

Compare the views from two weeks ago to get a good idea of how the color has changed.

Ticks – 0

Lanternflies – 0

Chiggers – 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  10/22/2022

Bear Mountain State Park – Bald Mountain, The Timp, Doodletown

Park Site

Trail Map – official, though I used the NY NJ Conference maps

Hike Distance – 6.73 miles

Trails – Cornell Mine (blue), Ramapo-Dunderberg (red dot on white), 1777 (white w/red 1777), 1777E (white w/red 1777E)

Mountains – Bald Mountain, The Timp

My Map:

It was a balmy 49 at the trailhead, with not may cars at the pullout on 9W.  By the time I got back he temperatures were in he middle 50s and the pullout was packed.  A perfect day.  I took off my fleece on the way up Bald Mountain, for the steep section, but I put it back on up top.  It was cold and and windy at the top.

The trail starts out paralleling the Doodletown Brook which had some nice cascades.  I went off trail once to get a picture, but you could hear the brook until the trail turned away.

After a short climb, and turn away from the brook, you can see the mountains (and the steep climb) in front of you.  Dunderberg is on your left, Bald is on your right.

The climb up to the top of Bald Mountain is steep.  Yes, there are switchbacks, but even the switchbacks are steep.  I stopped to take off the fleece because it was such a workout.  It’s not quite the climb as it was up the Devil’s Path to the top of Plateau Mountain, but there were some steep sections.  Once you get to the junction with the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, the climbing is mostly done for the day.

The top of Bald Mountain had some great views.

Anthony’s Nose on the right.  Bear Mountain Bridge in the center.
Bear Mountain. Perkins Tower is on the left.
West Mountain
Common Dittany

The trail off Bald Mountain was pleasant.

I wasn’t planning on climbing the Timp, but when I looked at the map, I didn’t realize it was as close as it was.  And I wouldn’t have to climb much.  I called an audible and decided to go for it.  The Timp is in Harriman State Park, which is connected to Bear Mountain State Park.  It WAS a short trip.  And the elevation gain wasn’t that much.  But the views were fantastic.  Again, it was colder and windy, but so worth it.  I could see people at the West Mountain shelter across the valley.

West Mountain

I made my way back to the 1777 trail, which is the path the British took when they headed to Doodletown to attack Colonist forts during the Revolutionary War.  The path is wide most of the time, and becomes a paved road once you arrive at Doodletown.

You’ll know you have arrived at Doodletown when you reach this structure, left over from a church camp.

Fall is coming.

In the middle of Doodletown, I found one of the old cemeteries. It was very quiet and peaceful, with not a lot of light.  This particular cemetery is still used, there are stones with modern dates on them.  There are some stones that go back to the middle-1800s.

American Astors

This was probably my favorite non-Catskill hike of the year.  The views were great, the climb was not too long, the weather was perfect.  I’d definitely do this hike again.

Ticks – 0

Lanternflies – 0

Blazes

Hiked: 10/8/2022

Indian Head Wilderness – Mount Plateau

Park Site

Trail Map – official, I used the NY NJ Trail Conference, map 141

Hike Distance – 6.6 or 7.4

Trail – Devil’s Path (red)

Mountain – Plateau Mountain

My Map:

There will not be a lot of pictures for this one.  This was another great hike with the Monmouth County Park System.  There are not many pictures due to:  the quick pace that we moved at, and the unrelenting uphill for the first part of the hike.  In my map, we started at the upper left.  The first 1.3 miles was uphill at a steep grade.  You can see that in how many contour lines we crossed, and how close together those lines are.

I’ve listed two mileages for the hike distance.  According to the hike leader (and the NY/NJ Trail conference map, the route we hiked was 7.4 miles.  I added up all the distances listed and came up with 7.4 miles.  However, my GPS track showed 6.6 miles, and lines up with other sites on the internet, including this one (see the Notch Lake description.)  I get that different GPS apps can arrive at different totals.  But how can GPS differ so significantly from the maps?  Anyone with information, please leave an answer in the comments.  All summer I have been baking off AllTrails and Gaia and have seen wildly different results.

The first picture comes from the first viewpoint, Orchard Point, atop the brutal climb from Notch Lake and Devil’s Tombstone Campground.  That climb is STEEEEP and LOOOOONG.  It is well worth the rest at the viewpoint.  And for my money, this was the best view of the day.  After scrambling up the rock, or climbing around it, the view you will see looks off towards Hunter Mountain.  It’s my favorite as there is nothing but trees and mountains.

From here to the summit is a ridge walk.  There might be 100 feet in elevation gain for the next two plus miles.  A typical view looks like:

We stopped for lunch two tenths of a mile past the summit at an over look that looks at Sugarloaf Mountain.

After lunch, it was back on the ridge retracing our steps.

We got back to Orchard Point overlook and rested for a few minutes before we started that steep descent back down.

Here’s a picture of the rock at the overlook.  On the way up, I went around it, since there was a nice trail there.  Going down, I shimmied down the rock.  It was much easier down than up; and I suppose if you are taller, it might be easier going up.

Back at the parking lot I took a couple of shots of Notch Lake.

Ticks – 0

Lanternflies – 0

Blazes

Hiked: 9/24/2022

Slide Mountain Wilderness – Mt. Wittenberg

Park Site

Trail Map – official, I used map 143 of the NY NJ Trail Conference

Hike Distance – 7.61 miles

Trails – Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail (red), also known as the Burroughs Range Trail.

Montain – Mt. Wittenberg

My Map:

I started this hike from the Woodland Valley Campground and Day Use area.  It cost $6 to park in the lot for the day.  The bigger bonus is, I found a place to camp so I can climb some of the other mountains and not have to drive back the same day.  That was brutal.

I got to the parking lot a little before 9, paid my fee, and headed up.  Right away, this trail heads up.  Here’s a shot of the trail leading up to the trail register.

The trail is like that most of the way up.  There are some “flatter” sections, but they are only long enough for you to catch your breath and get ready for the next climb.

Here’s a shot of an obscured viewpoint, it’s probably much nicer in the late fall, winter, and early spring.

Artist Bracket

There are a couple of smaller scrambles before the fun really begins.

The trail junctions with the yellow blazed Terrace Mountain trail, which heads to Terrace Mountain and the lean-to.  The next junction is with the blue-blazed Phonecia East Branch trail.

After this the fun begins.  I probably should have stowed my poles, as there are numerous spots where you need both hands.  And don’t look down.

One of my favorite signs in the Catskills.

Reaching the top gives you a huge view looking mostly southeast.  The large body of water is the Ashokan Reservoir.  Here are three pictures looking left to right.

It was gorgeous up top, around 75 degrees.  And it was fairly crowded.

There were two sections coming up that were kind of tricky, and I had been thinking of them the entire time at the top.  So, I headed back down.  And blew right through those two sections.  Here’s a look at one of them.  Once you get behind the tree, the trail goes right, and it’s a pretty steep drop off the trail.

Once past the two trail junctions from before, it was smooth sailing all the way down.

Fortunately, the trail went around this rock.

Leaves are definitely down early this year.

Crossing the bridge back to the campground.

It was only .8 miles to Cornell.  Maybe I’ll try it from Slide.

Ticks – 0

Lanternflies – 0

Blazes:

Hiked: 9/10/2022

 

Harriman State Park – southwestern

Park Site

Trail map – official, I used map 118 from the NY NJ Trail Conference

Hike Distance – 9.05 Miles

Trails – Pine Meadow (red), Kakait (white), Raccon Brook Hills (black), Poached Egg (yellow), Hillburn-Torne-Sebago (orange), Seven Hills (blue)

My Map –

This is going to be more of a picture dump then anything else.

I started out on the Pine Meadow trail, which starts out nice and wide.  It parallels the Stony Brook.

Whorled Wood Astor
Violet Tooth Polypore

This was a neat rock formation, with lots of little caves.  I explored most of them.  The trail climbs up behind it, and then gets lost due to a big blowdown.  I had to check GPS to find where to go.

At the top of the Raccoon Brook Hills, there is a great 360 degree view.

What really amazed me on this hike are the amount of leaves that are down.  Some trails were completely covered.  And many trees have already changed colors.

There was one steep section to descend.  You can see the ladder in the middle of this picture.  The ladder is rotten, I didn’t even attempt it, I went around.

It was clear enough to get this picture.

I ended by climbing up to the Ramapo Torne, which had some incredible views.

Coming off the Torne, I took a route that was basically straight down for 500 feet or so.  Not recommended.  Up wouldn’t have been much of a problem.  Down was kind of sketchy.

Finishing up on the Seven Hills trail, the path became wide, almost woods road-like.

Blazes:

Hiked – 9/3/2022

 

Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve – North and South Mt. Beacon, Lambs Hill, Scofield Ridge

Park Site

Trail Map: official, I used the NY NJ Trail Conference map, number 102

Hike Distance: 7.89 Miles

Trails:  Casino (red), Breakneck Ridge (white), Wilkinson Memorial (yellow), Fishkill Ridge (White), Blue, Yellow

Mountains:  North Mt. Beacon, South Mt. Beacon, Lambs Hill

My Map:

Going to this trailhead reminded me of the numerous trips I used to take to visit my grandparents.  Most of the landmarks are still there.

I knew this would be a bigger hike, just planning it out.  The distance was in my wheelhouse, the three big climbs were what would make it more difficult.  I got to the parking lot at 8:30 and there were plenty of spots to park, which is always a good sign.  It was nice and sunny with temperatures in the middle 70s to start.

The plan was to climb North Mount Beacon, head over to South Mount Beacon, then walk Scofield Ridge to Lambs Hill and come back on the Fishkill Ridge trail.  It all went to plan.

The Casino trail heads out of the parking lot.  The trail is so named due to the old “casino” that used to be atop North Mt. Beacon.  There used to be an incline railway at this location, that took passengers to the Casino – which had food and a dance hall.  All structures are now gone, only a few landmarks exist.  Before heading up the mountain, you pass the lower station from the incline railway.

After a short walk on a wide flat path, you come to the stairs, which get you a good way up the mountain – certainly not all of it.

After the stairs, the trail is wide and flat.  And, with a number of switchbacks, gains a lot of elevation quickly.

I couldn’t believe what I saw (in spots,) some trees have already started changing colors.  Mostly, I saw yellow on Birches and some Maples.

The picture below is not of a trail.  It’s where people have started cutting the switchbacks.  I don’t get it.  The switchbacks make it easier to climb.  The picture is looking down.  What doesn’t come across is how steep it is.  I’m not sure I understand why you would want to take that “shortcut.”

After a little more uphill, there is a spur trail off to the right, which has a nice view, and a path to the remains of the machine house for the incline railway.

The view is looking west.

Above this are the remains of the machinery and housing for the upper portion of the incline railway.  An organization is looking to preserve what is left.

Following the Casino trail to the top of North Mount Beacon will lead you to where the Casino used to stand.  Crossing that location is a big viewpoint looking west.  It was clear enough to see the Shawangunks in the distance.

The hike to South Mount Beacon is not long, but does involve some uphill climbing.  You will pass a small spur trail on your left that goes to the true summit of North Mount Beacon.  On the way were more trees already changing color.

There is an unmarked turn that shaves some distance on the trip to the fire tower and top of South Mount Beacon.  I, obviously, missed it; and walked until I took the newer White Trail (the back portion of the Breakneck Ridge trail) to the top.  Climbing up behind the tower had a nice view looking south.

The top afforded 360 degrees worth of views, some of which are below.

The tower is always open, and I watched many people climb.  I did not.

The next part of the trip was along Scofield Ridge, which had some nice views looking off the ridge.

One particular rock outcropping had a nice view looking east and included the Beacon Reservoir.

Walking the ridge is quite pleasant and mostly flat.

There was one nice scramble just before some viewpoints.  This was pretty steep, but not long.  My bigger concern on scrambling up was that there could be snakes sunning themselves on the rocks.  Fortunately, none were to be seen.  Though, while on top of South Mount Beacon I talked with one group that seen a black rat snake.

After the following viewpoint, the trail descends off the ridge, which felt good.  Though, that meant there was a climb up Lambs Hill.  This viewpoint was nice – and is just off the trail at a hairpin turn.

A quick jaunt on the Blue trail (not named on the NY NJ Trail Conferences maps) takes you through a nice forest.

I am so not ready for this:

Nooooooooooo

The Blue trail ends at Dozer Junction.  Yes, that’s how it is named on the map.  The intersection is with the Fishkill Ridge trail.  How a bulldozer ended up here, I’ll never know, and don’t really want to speculate.

The Fishkill Ridge trail climbs Lambs Hill, and at this point I was getting tired.  There are two nice viewpoints at the top which I took advantage of to eat.  From there it was time to lose elevation.  And the trip down had some pretty tricky spots.  After a stream crossing, I took the Yellow trail back to the parking lot.  Unbelievably, I had to climb a bit to get back to the Casino trail that would lead to the car.  I wasn’t really taking any more pictures.

What the….?

Have I been teleported back to New Jersey?

Just as I was coming down the stairs and heading back to the car I started to hear rumbles of thunder.  I grabbed some food from across the street of the parking lot and sat on benches under some trees to eat, and the rain started coming down good.  People were flocking off the mountain, and I suspect some got really wet.

Ticks: 0

Spotted Lanternflies:  0

Blazes:

Hiked:  8/20/2022

Hartshorne Woods – Command Loop, Grand Tour, Cuesta Ridge

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  3.59 Miles

Trails:  Command Loop, Grand Tour, Cuesta Ridge

My Map:

This was a quick one, as I didn’t plan on getting out this week.  There are not a lot of pictures, either, because this was so short.  The day was perfect as it was mid-70s and dry, no humidity.  I got to the trailhead early, and there were still many cars, and I found there to be many bikes on the trail.  The lot was almost full upon my return.

Asiatic Dayflower

I had been to the Eastern side of the park a couple of weeks ago and the Rocky Point trail was still more or less still a trail.  This week I was in the middle of the park and the trails were less hiking trails and more bike trails.

The last time I was here I noticed the prevalence of invasive plants.  I guessed Kudzu, but I think it is actually Porcelain-berry, which is in the grape family.  I saw the berries, I’ve heard they’re edible, but I’ve heard they don’t taste like much.

Part way up the Grand Tour, I could see what looked like devastation in the distance.  Eventually, I came to sign explaining what was going on.  In early 2022, the park service, along with the US Forest Service and the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team, started to remove invasive species in Hartshorne Woods.  Specifically, the groups were targeting Porcelain-berry, Multiflora Rose, and Japanese Knotweed.  The plan is to thoroughly clear the invasive species, then replant.

It was nice to get back on forested trails.

Eventually, I turned onto the Cuesta Ridge trail and headed back to the car.

Roundleaf Greenbriar

Ticks: 0

Spotted Lanternflies:  0

Blazes:

Hiked:  8/14/2022

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – Mt. Minsi

Park Site

Trail Map – official.  I used the NY NJ Trail Conference map, 120.

Hike Distance – 5.58 miles

Trails – Appalachian (white), Mt. Minsi Fire Road, green, and some unmarked trails

Mountain – Mt. Minsi

My map –

I have been on Mt. Minsi, but it was over 30 years ago.  And, we came from the ridge, I believe we climbed to the ridge at Totts Gap and we walked to the Minsi Lookout.  This time, I started at the Appalachian Trail trailhead in the town of Delaware Water Gap, which is a nice quaint small mountain town.  I got the last (legal) spot in the lot just before nine in the morning.  When I came back, there were cars all over the place.  And, there was trail magic in the parking lot.

The parking lot is right next to Lake Lenape, which was in full bloom of water lilies.  The AT is part of the Mt. Minsi fire road for a couple of hundred yards, so it is nice and easy walking.

Lake Lenape

Once off the fire road, the walking becomes typical Appalachian Trail (at least for this section.)

Crossing Eureka Creek was fun, the water was low, and the trail heads off into a small Rhododendron tunnel. As typical, there was Rhododendron all over the place.

Shortly after, I zipped off the leggings of my pants – it was just too hot and humid.  After that I quickly made it to the first viewpoint, Lookout Rock.

After Lookout Rock, it’s pretty much up and up and up until you get to the viewpoint looking across the river at Mt. Tammany.

Staghorn Sumac

Birch trees already have their leaves changing color.  I don’t want to think about that yet – it’s still August.

Getting closer to the next lookout is a long Rhododendron tunnel, that ends with a small scramble.

I made it to the overlook that looks east and towards Mt. Tammany.  However, there were ten kids making all kinds of noise at the overlook, so I headed off to the summit.  From that overlook to the top, it’s all uphill.  You’ll know you are at the summit as there is a cell tower at the top (?) and the remains of what look like a fire tower.

About a quarter mile west of the summit and on the left is a small overlook that looks south with views of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and the Delaware River.  The view would be bigger without the leaves on the trees.

After sitting a bit, I headed back the way I came.

When I reached the viewpoint, there was no one around, which afforded me time to eat something.  It was sunny (and hot) and I had a great view of Mt. Tammany.

While sitting, I noticed a bunch of hawks flying around.  Some came suspiciously close.

On the return trip, I took the Mt. Minsi fire road.  Before reaching the fire road, it was back through a Rhododendron tunnel, that was very dark.  I tried to get a picture, but the camera took in too much light.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, it was really dark in the tunnel.

Ghost Pipes
Burdocks
Wineberries

I was looking for Table Rock, so I turned off the fire road to a trail labeled Green on AllTrails.  It’s just marked as an unmarked trail on the NY NJ Trail Conference map.  I never did find Table Rock, maybe I should have stayed on the fire road longer.  This trail was definitely not used as much, but was interesting none the less.

Two more unmarked trails took me to Lake Lenape, though from a different side.  There were tons of frogs all along the banks that jumped in the water as I approached.

There were lots of people out and about today; not so much when I went off the fire road.  When I reached the parking lot, there were cars all over the place, but a welcome sight (and one I hadn’t see before) was Trail Magic – a van set up with food and cold drinks for AT thru-hikers.

Ticks: 0

Spotted Lanternflies: 2 (1 dead / 1 got away)

Blazes:

Hiked: 8/6/2022

Musconetcong Gorge Preserve

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  7.56 miles

Trails:  Orange, Blue, Yellow, White, and some unmarked trails

My Map:

It was a gorgeous day, getting into the mid 80s.  I wore pants with zip off legs thinking if it got too hot, I could take the legs off.  However, it rained a little last night, and the Orange trail was wet, and overgrown.  I’m glad I left the legs on.

After parking, I hiked the Orange trail as an out and back.  Before 519, it’s a nice trail, well maintained.

After crossing 519, there are stretches of the trail that are extremely overgrown.  And there were numerous spider webs crossing the trail; I felt like Indy going after the idol.

There are a couple of spots where the trail opens up.

The trail ends while passing a cornfield just by a road.  The Highlands Trail keeps going, but I was not cutting through the overgrowth.  There was a nice view, and a great breeze by the cornfield.

Naked-flowered Tick Trefoil

Back at my car, I jumped on the Yellow Trail (which is part of the Highlands Trail as well.)  This trail climbed to the top of a ridge and followed the ridge for a while.  It was much easier to move with a day pack on as opposed to the backpacking pack.

Like last week, there were a lot of wineberries out.  This time, I channeled my inner bear, and gorged when I saw ripe berries.  Last week would have been the mother lode though.

The first stream crossing is Scout Run, which had lots of water flowing through.

All throughout the ridge top I saw toads scurrying about and made sure not to step on them.

The highest point on the ridge will have a great view once the leaves are off the trees.

I followed the Yellow trail until the next stream crossing at Pine Run.  Instead of crossing, I took the White (?) trail down to the old rail bed.

This trail is not on the map.  And the trail is pretty much straight down to the base of the gorge, with lots of rocks.  When I came to the base, there was yellow caution tape closing off the trail going up.  There was no tape at the top preventing anyone from coming down.  Here’s a shot looking up, the picture doesn’t do the steepness justice.  You can see the yellow caution tape to the right.

Walking on the old rail bed was pleasant.  There were plenty of wineberries, and the trail was pretty flat and smooth.

After a few minutes I could hear people down in the Musconetcong river.  There were loud yells, and then a crash.  I found a small spur trail that headed in that direction, it had one steep section I sort of slid down.  The trail came out at a dam, where people were using the dam as a water slide to go down and fall into a big pool.  There was enough water that kayaks were going down as well.  I would have loved to have tried it, but I had no idea the dam was here and I wasn’t getting soaked without a good way to dry off.  I watched one kayak go down, and it was awesome.

Someone at the dam suggested I take an old trail that split a stream and the river back towards the car.  It would go by the old paper mill and factory, so I changed my plans and followed that path.

The stream on the left was really nice, and supposedly had fish.

The trail went over a small set of falls where the stream fell towards the river.

I passed the paper mill in the woods and found the old abandoned factory.

Butterfly Bush

However, I was now off trail and needed to find my way back.  I found a small spur trail that looked like it would head back towards the trail to the car.  Sure enough, I found the trail I was looking for, but I had to cross an old rickety dam first in order to reach the marked trail.

Eventually I found my way back to the car.  Coming back, I’m packing for swimming and sliding down the dam.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  7/30/2022