Tourne County Park

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  6.73 miles

Trails:  Red, Yellow, Green, Purple, Teal, Pink, unblazed

My map:

It wasn’t hot to start out, 66 at the trailhead, but it certainly was hot (and a bit humid) when I returned to the lot.  The car said 90.  And it was very foggy early in the morning.  I wasn’t sure what I would be able to see.

I started on the red trail, where I would turn left onto yellow to head up the Tourne.  The trails around the Tourne are wide, crushed gravel roads.

Throughout the park I came across numerous benches, some small, and some of the larger type that had obviously been donated.  There names on the larger benches.

At the top of the Tourne, there are picnic benches.  Also, there is a memorial to 9/11.

Here’s the view, though there were two problems.  One, there was a thick fog, and two, there are too many leaves on the trees.  On a better day, you should be able to see the New York City skyline.

Look out Charlotte

And it seems there will be a bumper crop of poison ivy this year.

Dame’s Rocket

These flowers are really neat.  Unfortunately, with the heat and humidity, my camera didn’t focus well on them.

Pinkster flowers

Once you get off the Red trail, the trail surfaces become more “trail-like” and less “road-like.”  The Blue trail cuts through the woods and had some spongy wet spots.

Spring house foundations

The Blue trail joins back up with the Red trail and skirts along the eastern edge of Birchwood lake.  At this point, you are technically in Richard Wilcox Municipal Park, in the Borough of Mountain Lakes.

Birchwood Lake

You can see in that picture that the weather has finally cleared off, and it was noticeably warmer (and muggier) out.

I stayed on the Red trail which led back into Tourne County Park.

There was lots of False Turkey Tail out all over.

I took the Teal and Pink trails as a little detour from Red.  In this area I happened to run into some bikers.  Most of the people I ran into were near the Tourne.

Two Flower Dwarf Dandelion

Tourne County Park is a great park to hike in.  Aside from some unblazed trails and some junctions, the trails were marked well.  A couple of trails pass by housing.  I did not take the long White trail, and I’ll have to come back to investigate.

Ticks: 0


Hiked:  5/21/2022

Silas Condict Park

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance – 3.82 miles

Trails – Red, White

My Map:

The weather called for scattered thunderstorms after 3:00 in the afternoon; I went more than prepared.  I did not have to worry.  It was partly cloudy for the whole time, with the sun coming out for the last half hour or so.  In fact, with the sun out, I shed my fleece.

This was a nice hike through a nice park, though I thought the park was bigger than it is.  The main entrance on William Lewis Arthur Drive was closed, I made the next left on Ricker Road and it brought me to the same parking lot.  There is plenty of parking, though I suspect it gets filled in the summer months.

I traveled counter-clockwise, and started on the Red Trail.  This trail is essentially a woods road, it is fairly wide and flat.  Immediately, I noticed that gnats were out, and out in force when the breeze was not blowing.

While walking along I ran into a few unusual rocks; at least I wasn’t expecting them.  Every so often I found an isolated puddingstone rock.  I certainly wasn’t expecting to see it here.

All through the park are benches on trails; some of the small variety, and some larger; erected by  a scout for his Eagle Scout project.  Some are found at some of the viewpoints which make for a nice place to take a break.

The Red Trail ends abruptly in the outfield of a softball field.  Fortunately a game wasn’t going on, as I would have been in the field of play.

To get to the White trail from here, make a right, and follow the unmarked trail.  A directory will be on your right, and the White Trail heads off into the woods from there.

The sign said that the White Trail is rated moderate, has some steep ascents and descents and was 3.1 miles long.  That’s a pretty good description, as there were some areas of very light scrambling.  Note:  The Yellow trail branches off the White Trail in two places, and is about a mile long.  I didn’t take it.  The sign said that the Yellow trail was rated easy.

Spring is coming, these Mayflowers will be in bloom before we know it.

This is what I was looking for, and something I hadn’t done in a while.  Steep uphills.

The trail winds its way up to the ridge, and there were quite a few nice viewpoints.  There aren’t any leaves on the trees yet, so there is not much color.  But you can see for a pretty good distance.


My favorite viewpoint came just before the trail turned East, and was atop some larger rocks in the middle of the trail.  You can see almost 360 degrees.

This will be fun to walk through in a month or two:

One last viewpoint before the trail turns off the ridge and heads back towards the parking lot.

And yet, more:

One feature I was looking forward to finding was the Cave Tunnel.  I had not seen pictures beforehand so I didn’t not know what to expect.  But it’s pretty cool.  And, if you don’t like enclosed spaces, you can go around.  It’s not as close as the Lemon Squeezer in Harriman State Park. If nothing else, it’s a massive erratic.

These next couple of pictures are after I have gone through, and I’m looking back.

And yet, more

The trail winds its way back to the parking lot and Canty’s Lake.

I liked the park.  There were numerous places where when it gets rocky or steep, side trails have been created bypassing the challenge.  That’s unfortunate.  I enjoyed the trails here despite the plague of gnats that followed.  A nice breeze kept it nice and cool.

Ticks: 0


Hiked:  4/16/2022

Cooper Gristmill – Elizabeth Kay Environmental Center

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  8.06 Miles

Trails:  Patriots Path (Blue), Green, Orange, Green-Orange, Red  (The map doesn’t list names, though, in addition to the Patriots Path, I saw Black River Trail, Conifer Pass Trail, and Bamboo Brook Trail on various signs.)

My Map:

(Once again, I missed a turn, hence that loop.  The loop doesn’t really close, as the Black River goes through the bottom of the loop.)

The sole purpose of today’s hike was to a) see some Fall colors, and b) not walk as far as the last two weeks.  Colors are coming out but they are not peak here.  I drove by some vibrant colors, and I drove through areas that were still green.  The same goes for the park on this day.  I started off in rain, and by the time I made it to the Environmental Center, the sun was trying to peek through.  It was mostly cloudy for the whole walk, though.

Right off the bat, the Patriots Path starts at the Cooper Gristmill.  While closed, I would have loved a tour.

Behind the mill, the path winds down to the Black River, and the Patriots Path, the Green trail, the Orange trail, and the Green-Orange trail walk close to the river.  The river is always gurgling, however, when you come to falls, it gets pretty loud.

It did not take long to arrive at Kay Pond.

I bet the pond would look gorgeous with the sun out.

From the green trail, I took the orange trail part way to find the ruins of Kay’s Cottage.

A pool had been created for the cottage by damming the river.  Again, the falls were loud.

Retracing my steps back on Orange, I took the Orange-Green trail until it merged with the Green trail.  For a cooler cloudy day, there was still plenty of growth.

Striped Wintergreen
White Cheese Polypore

Green hugs the river, and just before the junction with Red, I came across these ruins.

Red follows the river too, for just a little bit.

Then, it’s off into the woods.  Almost immediately, there’s a steep climb up a hill, and as the hill is not large, a decent on the other side before coming to Pottersville Road.  Cross the road.

Following Red, there will be another hill to climb.  At the top of this hill is the junction with the Patriots Path and signs with actual trail names.  This would be my highest elevation.  Patriots Path meanders back to Pottersville Road, where there is a short road walk.

Pottersville Road on the way to the Enviornmental Center

Eventually, Patriots Path turns left into the Elizabeth Kay Environmental Center.  Here, the sun was trying to come out and it helped a little with the colors.

Common Milkweed

Behind the Environmental Center I picked up the Patriots Path and followed that all the way back to my car, eventually junctioning with the trail where I started my loop.  Along the river I saw a fisherman pull out a good-sized trout which was cool to see.

I did not see many people until I got near the Environmental Center, but I suspect the pick-your-own apples farm just near the Cooper Gristmill is where a bulk of the people were on this great Fall day.  I recommend this hike for a great walk along the river with a couple of hills to make you work.  It would be worth coming back in the Summer to be able to stop along the river and cool off in the pools.

Ticks: 0


Hiked: 10/23/2021

Mahlon Dickerson Reservation

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  6.35 miles

Trails:  Highlands Trail (teal), Pine Swamp (white), Blue, Ogden Mine Railroad (green)

My Map:

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.

Wild Sasparila
Common Marsh Bed-Straw

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:

Peasant: “Well, she turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?”
Peasant: “… I got better.”
Chestnut Oak

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.

Ticks:  5


Hiked:  6/12/2021

Schooleys Mountain

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 5.02 Miles

My Map:

Another great day and another great hike.  As I got to the trailhead, it was 59 degrees out, and I was the fourth car.  I seriously debated starting with a jacket on, but packed it – and after a few minutes, I was thankful.  I started with the Blue trail (Falling Waters trail) to head to the falls.  Just before the trail descended, I was able to get this picture of Lake George:

Lake George

Just by the dam, the trail starts down – be prepared, this is rocky and steep in sections.  It was perfect weather on my hike; I can only imagine this section on the wet rocks or with ice.  However, the falls are awesome.  You can scramble all over the rocks to get all kinds of views.  It was nearing 60 degrees, had this been August with high heat and humidity, I might have taken a dip.

The Falling Waters trail follows Electric Brook beneath the falls.  There are ruins of the old power station, but I did not find them.  I followed the trail until the fence marking private property, where the trail bears left and goes straight up hill.  At the top of the hill you will come to a junction of many trails and the end of the Falling Waters trail.  There will be rocks on your right, walk out those for a view.

The map shows a point of interest that comprises a big rock outcropping.  Even though I was making a big loop, I took the Pink trail (not named) to its end where it junctions with the Grand Loop trail.  The Pink trail is more a woods road, so, wide with lots of crushed gravel.  There is an unmarked trail to the right which shortly leads to the rocks.

Behind the rocks there should be a view, but with the leaves on the trees, there wasn’t much to see.  I took Pink back to the junction.

At the junction, I turned left onto a White and Teal Trail (Patriot’s Path and the Highlands trail.)  This I took to Fairview Avenue.

Along the way there was a junction and a sign for a Green trail, not named, but shown, on my map.  On the sign was tacked “most difficult.”  After walking about 100 yards I came to sign that said trail’s end, and a cliff.  The map showed more trail, but I couldn’t find where it went, I must have missed it.  Because what I walked was flatter than the Falling Waters trail.  When I come back, I will have to further explore.

I got back on Patriot’s Path/Highland trail and took that to the parking lot at Fairview Avenue, where I would make a left onto the Yellow Dot trail (Beeline trail.)  Approaching this junction and  parking lot is where I ran into more people – this is a fairly busy lot.  This trail has some steep sections as it climbs onto the back section of Schooleys Mountain.  Junction with the Yellow (Grand Loop trail) and continue.

I rested at the junction of Red (High Cut) but stayed on Yellow to get back to the Orange (Upland Meadow trail.)  Orange cuts through two meadows filled with plenty of wild flowers and trees, bird houses, and lots of crickets.  Under a big tree I stopped for a snack though I was mostly done.  The sun was out, and felt great as it pushed the temperatures into the upper 60s.

I walked back on Yellow to Red to cross over the top of Schooleys Mountain.  Following my GPS, I estimated the summit to be right here:

It gets a little squirrlly at the top, I lost the trail a couple of times; and I suspect I wasn’t the only one.  It doesn’t help when I find blazes in the following locations:

Red junctions with Yellow (again) and I took Yellow back to the car.  This portion of the trail is a wide woods road of crushed gravel.

And just before my car I got one more picture of Lake George.

This was a great hike.  By the time I got back to my car, there were more cars there and more people out and about.  This is a really nice park, as are all of the Morris County parks I’ve hiked in.  The trails are well maintained, well blazed and provide great maps (though print your own, there were none at the trailhead.)

Ticks: 0


Hiked: 9/13/2020


Turkey Mountain

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  6.26 miles

Trails:  Yellow, White, Red, Green, Blue

My Map:

I had been to this park before, though the other side of the street.  Back in 2017, I hiked Pyramid Mountain with my dad in the rain – rain for most of the hike.  It looked like a higher chance of rain on Sunday, so I made this a Saturday hike.  I arrived at the parking lot at 8:30 in the morning, and it was already packed, so I had to park on Mars Court, across the street.  Be careful parking here, you can only park on one side of the streets; and businesses have ominous signs in their lots.  I was surprised it was that packed that early, though it was a really nice day.  I believe I was the fourth car on Mars Court (and when I returned, there were cars all the way down the street, and on 511 south of the park.)  That’s why there is a gap between my starting and ending points on my map, above.  Almost everyone was on Pyramid Mountain, I had Turkey Mountain virtually to myself.

I like this park:  trails are wide (for the most part) made up of mostly dirt and rocks.  There is great signage and trails are very well marked (except when the turn symbol is on a blowdown.)  I noticed at major trail junctions there were cairns, so it was kind of hard to get lost.

I wasn’t planning on taking the red trail right at the beginning, but I thought I saw a viewpoint on the map.  About 300 yards in, I ran into:

There were numerous blowdowns all through the park, most easily navigable.

A shortcut to…mushrooms (JRRT)

While scrambling in the lower portion of the park, it started to get HOT and very humid.  Unlike High Point, I had to zip off the lower portion of my pants.  Not my favorite thing to do, as I’m susceptible to poison ivy, and it’s too easy to get ticks from the fields and high grass.  And no one needs to see my legs.

If you follow the route I took, you will cross the powercut at least four times.  Twice you will go right under towers.  I wasn’t totally prepared for that, as at the first tower, you could hear buzzing.

This guy almost got stepped on.

Following the Yellow trail along the roadside, it suddenly comes out on the road.

Fortunately, it’s pretty well marked, right after the guardrail, make a left into the woods.  (I noticed a pullout parking spot for one car at this spot.)

Left after the guardrail.

At this point, you are heading up Turkey Mountain, I believe to the highest point in the park on this side of 511.  While the trail is wide, I ran into a stone wall that crosses the trail.

When Yellow T-intersects with Red, I took a quick detour to the right to find the actual top of Turkey Mountain.  I couldn’t find a marker, but GPS confirmed that I did in fact reach the highest point.  I retraced my steps, and continued on Red.  There’s a steep descent where you run into Green.  Then a steep ascent, at the top of which are stone ruins.  This area, at one time, was a limestone quarry.

Following Green you come to a great spot overlooking Lake Vallhalla.  There are numerous overlooks along this route, however with the leaves out, many overlooks did not have views.

Finally, I followed Green until Blue, which traveled uphill and up the powercut.  There were some great views from the base of the powerline tower.

This was the beginning of the 100 Stairs, the path down to the road and back to the car.  In the bright, hot and humid sun, this was tough.  In the Fall, it’s probably great.  On a hot and humid day, it’s strenuous.

All in all this was a great hike.  There were a couple of rock hops that probably are trickier in the spring with more water flowing.  Also, it was nice to come back to this park on a day where it wasn’t raining.  When I got back to my car, the street was packed, but I noticed more people returning from Pyramid Mountain.

Tickes:  0


Hiked:  8/22/2020

Pyramid Mountain

On Father’s Day (or the weekend after) I took my dad on a trip to a park that neither of us had hiked previously, Pyramid Mountain – part of the Morris County Parks.  The trails at Pyramid Mountain are known for their glacial erratics – we definitely wanted to see Tripod Rock, but ended up passing a bunch of different rocks.  The day started out nice, however as we got closer to the park it started to rain.  Since we were most of the way there, we were not about to turn back; and it was not yet raining that hard.  That would change.

There were not many other cars in the parking lot when we arrived – probably pretty typical for a rainy day.  I can imagine with the sun out and nice weather that parking lot can get packed. We stopped into the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area visitors center before we started the hike…wow!  What a treat.  The exhibits were great (and given the weather) we had the place to ourselves.  Definitely stop inside if you are hiking in the area, the visitors center is well worth it.

The trailhead was well stocked with maps, and the trail maps for the park are very well done – with a great legend, marked trails and easily read.  It was easy to follow paths, and that I recall, everything was well marked.  We started on the Blue trail and took that to the White trail, which we followed for a while.  We stopped off at Bear rock, a HUGE rock at a trail junction, where we saw the only other people hiking in the park.  We debated cutting over on the Blue/White trail and shortening the hike – it was raining pretty good at this point.  But, we decided to carry on – taking the Blue trail around Bear Swamp and towards the ridge.  There is one steep section that goes up a short distance as you climb onto the ridge.  It’s steep.  I felt it in my thighs when we got to the top.  A short distance from the the top of that climb brought us to Whale Head rock, another very large rock.  I’ll admit, I really did not see the whales head in the rock.  Onward, we hiked on the Red / White-striped trail until it junctioned with the White.  We took the White to Tripod Rock where sits one of the most famous erratics in the park.  I took some pictures here, and this was the only place I took any pictures due to the rain.

After tripod rock, we continued on the Blue trail while on the ridge.  A short detour to Lucy’s Overlook, which probably would have had a magnificent view if it were not cloudy and rainy, was well worth the rocks and the climb.  This “detour” is clearly marked on the Blue trail.  Back on the blue, we hiked until we junctioned with the Yellow and took that all the way back to the visitors center.  (I believe we got back on the Blue for a 300 feet or so to get to the parking lot.)

We had a great time despite the weather.  Turkey Mountain is “across the street” and is something I look forward to coming back to hike.

Hiked:  6/17/2017