Hike Distance: 6.3 miles
Trails: Blue, White, Red, Green
I’m calling it now, this hike will be in the top five at the end of the year, if not the top spot. This was a great hike, and is a great place to visit and hike. It did not hurt that the weather was perfect: sunny, barely a cloud in the sky and very low 70s. To me, this hike has it all: some steep terrain, lakes, cascades and waterfalls, ruins, and great views.
The state of New Jersey is slowly re-opening and I looked for a hike that might be out of the way with less people. I can’t remember where I learned of Apshawa Preserve, my best bet is NJHiking.com. I left early, as usual, and by the time I got to the parking lot, I was almost the last car in; there were lots of people early in the morning. In the lot, there was a large group of loud people, only a few masked. I let them start off ahead of me hoping to give them a good head start while I snapped a picture of the trail kiosk. And this great picture:
I haven’t seen a bear while hiking. I’d like to, but from a distance. It was not to be today. To enter the park, you have to pass through a gate in a fence, which I read is used to keep the deer out. I didn’t see any deer in the park, so I would say it is effective. In I went.
It was all uphill to start, which was fun. It didn’t take me long to catch up to that large group, I could hear them while walking and figured I would catch them sooner or later. I figured I would pass them, but we got caught in a bottleneck – where the trail descends a rock scramble. I let them take their time with that while checked out the view. One in their group was playing music through their phone, one was on their phone trying to send pictures to someone. I started to plan where I wanted to pass them, but luckily, did not have to. I turned onto white, which went straight uphill. I slowly lost their noise, and was rewarded with views from the top.
White descended steeply to junction with Red. This would be the trail around Butler Reservoir and had some amazing views of the water. I would have liked to have circumnavigated yellow, but the trail is closed due to beaver activity.
I must have missed the actual trail between the two sections of the reservoir. I was probably walking on a small footpath when I realized I had to cross a small stream. I couldn’t believe the trail would present this path to casual hikers.
I crossed without issue. And after walking about 20 feet on the other side, I saw where the “real” trail rock hopped across the stream. Either way seemed fun.
Some views of the reservoir:
Mountain Laurel were still in bloom and could be found in numerous locations.
On the southwestern side of the reservoir I met up with the large group of hikers. They were looking for the waterfall, which I knew to be on the Green trail. I let them know, but they were dedicated to going around the reservoir. Shortly after, I met up with a hiking group with their dogs, all unleashed. When they saw me they started to leash up the dogs but I was mostly by them by the time the dogs were all leashed. I’m a dog person, so don’t mind them, but I would rather they be leashed.
After a brief rest on the rocks in the middle of the reservoir, I headed to the green trail. This went up, steeply. There was a great view at the top that was probably much better without the vegetation. The peak was the highest point in Apshawa Presever, and I’ll say, it was a nice long ascent. The descent, though, was a different story. There were two or three switchbacks, but it felt like it was straight down the fall-line and my knees felt it. Here’s what that section looks like in Caltopo, the switchbacks are in the center, and you can see the contour lines.
I rested at the cascades of Apshawa Brook.
A little ways up the trail (and uphill) I came to the ruins of the old water purification system. What’s not shown are the massive tanks sitting by the brook.
Up the steep hill to the waterfall of Apshawa Brook.
From here I followed Green until it met back with Blue, and took that back to the car. Upon reaching the parking lot I noticed that there were police directing the flow of traffic.
This is a great place to hike and I highly recommend it; it has something for everyone. I hiked as long as I could, but there were numerous paths and circuits to make the hike as long and rugged as you like, or not. My advice is to get there early as the lot fills up.