Mt. Tammany

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  3.77 Miles

Trails:  Red Dot (Mt. Tammany), Blue (Pahaquarry), Green (Dunfield Creek), White (Appalachian)

My Map:

Nothing says Fall like driving north on Routes 31 and 46 north of Route 78.  The colors, the farmstands, the cool air; it’s all there.  This was not my intended destination, but I figured I would give it a whirl since my initial destination was before this, and I figured if the lots were full I could go back to where I initially intended to go.  I got lucky.

It was in the 40s when I left, and it was probably 50 when I got back to my car after the hike.  The top of Mt. Tammany was definitely cooler.

Be warned.  The lots fill up fast on a weekend. I just missed getting into the lot by the trailhead by one car.  So, it was down to exit one, go under 80, and back to the visitor’s center; which, by my arrival had plenty of spots left.  However, I had a good half-mile walk to the trailhead.  Do not park on 80.

I have fond memories of hiking Mt. Tammany (and Mt. Minsi) back when I was much younger, but it had been a long long time since I was last here.  The visitor’s center seemed very different (it wasn’t open for obvious reasons) from when I was here last.

Even though I was early (9:00 a.m.) the Red Dot trail was crowded going up.  That’s an understatement.  I felt like I was in a conga line and I thought back to Stairway to Heaven a couple of weeks ago.  So, you won’t see many pictures of the way up.  In fact, I wore a mask almost the entirety of the ascent.  You will see all types of people heading up.

The overlook on the shoulder still afforded a great picture.

As I mentioned, it has been a long time since I was last here.  While there was lots of scrambling on the way up, there was a particular rock I remembered, and the trail turned left just before that rock.  I feel like the trail has been re-routed.  What seemed new to me was a real long scramble to a rock-strewn trail to the top.  I have vague recollections of a forest walk before coming to the top that I did not pass through.

Honey Mushroom

It took me about an hour to reach the top, due mainly to having to stop and wait for the line in front of me to make it up the rocks.  Once to the top, you can’t help but take the iconic picture:

Mt. Minsi

It was very crowded at the top, and much colder.  I stayed to eat a little (it was only 10:00) and enjoy the view.  Then it was off before the rest of the crowd got there.

I took the Blue trail back down, and for the most part the trail was exactly as I remembered it.  Fortunately, I had the trail mostly to myself, which allowed me to grab some pictures.

The ridge walk is pleasant, before it heads downhill.

And then, it’s all downhill from there.  Welcome to New Jersey trails:

Eastern Teaberry

I stepped off the trail to let some hikers ascend, and found the following off trail:

I have no idea what this is
Wintergreen

On the way down I came to a section where all the leaves were down.  This area is about a week ahead of where I live in terms of colors and leaves on the trees.

Stump puffballs

Eventually, I merged with the Green (Dunfield Creek) trail.  I’ve always liked hiking by Dunfield Creek. It’s a little darker, as the sun is blocked, and the sounds of the creek follow you in either direction.  Plus, the trail is much flatter, with less rocks.

Looking up the bluffs on the other side of the creek
Bracket Fungus

Just before the parking lot, there was a grove of brightly-colored trees.

This is a fun hike, the view is definitely worth it.  I could do without the crowds, and have only myself to blame; as I called an audible to come in the first place.  Make sure you either arrive early or come on a weekday.  When I got back to the visitor’s center, every space was full, including along the visitor’s center road (this was around noon.)

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  10/25/2020

Norvin Green State Forest

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 9.32 miles

Trails:  Otter Hole, Hewitt Butler / Highlands, Wyanokie Circular, Lower, Carris Hill

My Map:

I ended up with free time today, unexpectedly, so it was off to Norvin Green State Forest; a place I’ve wanted to hike.  Originally, I planned to do about seven miles; but called an audible and climbed Carris Hill.  Starting out today, I drove through fog and drizzle, and expected rain later in the day.  Fortunately, the rain held off, and the sun came out after lunch.  The pictures of the views would have been much better had I gotten to them in the afternoon.

Trails are, for the most part, soft dirt; but it’s New Jersey, and you can’t forget two scoops of rocks.

I was the fifth car in the lot by 8:30, when I returned, the lot was packed.

It was off on the Otter Hole trail.

Eventually, that junctions with the Hewitt Butler and  Highlands trail, which I took until that merged with the Wyanokie Circular trail.  This was the route to Wyanoki High Point.  It was here that I ran into the most amount of people – most going to the High Point and back.  There were multiple views just going to the High Point.

Leaves are turning already….

There were a couple of nice scrambles all throughout the forest.  This one was just before the High Point.

I didn’t stay at the High Point long as there were a lot of people up there.  But the views were fantastic – and would have been better when the sun came out after noon.

Leaving Wyanokie High Point sent me deeper into the forest and for the most part, away from people.  I took the Lower trail, with the intention of finding Chikahoki Falls.

When I junctioned with the Carris Hill trail I sat for a moment to think.  It was here that I changed my plans and decided to climb Carris Hill.  I really wasn’t sure when I would come back, it was early, and I figured I could have lunch at the top.

There were lots of good views from this trail.

And lots of other scenery.

Flax Leaf Astor mixed with blueberries

Toadskin Lichen

I thought the Carris Hill trail the most difficult trail in the forest.  At the top it was time for lunch, though it wasn’t quite noon.  After eating, I looked up, and noticed these guys waiting for me to keel over.

I came down the Hewitt Butler / Highlands trail finding these Honey mushrooms along the way.

When the trail junctioned with the Lower trail I backtracked to the Chikahoki Falls, which didn’t have a lot of water going over it.  In fact, I stood in a dry section, where you could tell the water would normally be, probably in the Spring after the rains.

I walked back to the Hewitt Butler / Highlands trail and took that all the way to the Otter Hole trail.

Spotted Wintergreen
Eastern North American Destroying Angel

With a desiccated puffball next to it.

I walked past the Otter Hole trail to go take a look at the Otter Hole.

Then, it was 2.3 miles on the Otter Hole trail back to the car.

Shelf Fungi

The Otter Hole trail is mostly a woods road, and alternates between nice flat, soft trails, and punishing rocks.

I really liked the forest and will come back to do some of the northern trails, and maybe Stonetown Circular one day.  You’ll find most people around Wyanokie High Point, and with good reason – the views are great.  But, you can hike in solitude on many of the other trails.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

(not the AT)

Hiked:  9/27/2020

Bearfort Ridge

Park Site

Trail Map

But also look here and here for improvements and changes.

Hike Distance 7.7 Miles

Trails:  Bearfort Ridge, Ernest Walter, Appalachian, State Line

Note on trails:  See the extra maps above.  What was known as the Quail Trial/Jimmy Glick trail appears to have been renamed to make up the Bearfort Ridge Loop.  Also, as of now (September 2020) The Bearfort Ridge Loop trail has been reblazed a lime green color.  It looks like there will be a new trail as well.  Bearfort Ridge used to be white.

My Map:

I was blessed with another perfect day to go out, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky all day.  It was in the low 50s when I left home, yet high 40s when I got to the trailhead.  As I might not be able to hike for a couple of weeks, this was a great way to go out.  This route has been on my list for a while as it is described in 50 Hikes in New Jersey; the next time I go, I may try Terrace Pond to the south.

This was a long day though; I was not prepared for the amount of scrambling I would be doing.  when I come back, I may just do the loop for the views.  However I highly recommend this hike.

Starting out, the trails are fairly wide, and soft dirt.  It wouldn’t be north Jersey without rocks.  And lots of rocks.  There were lots of trees down, but the trail is well maintained.

Eastern Hemlock Varnish Shelf mushroom

I went left when the Bearfort Ridge trail split as I wanted to head up to the Appalachian trail before I got to Surprise Lake.  The trail heads up steeply, then sort of levels out as you near the ridge.  I felt like walking on the ridge was like walking on someone’s spine.  There were plenty of rock scrambles, each affording it’s own view.

Right near the top of the ascent, I noticed a big rock to my left and scrambled up that for a great view to the south / southwest.  Coming down that I was faced with:

I was glad to have to go up that, and not down.  However, there was more to come.  This was a good scramble, and with a crazy good view as the payoff.

New York City

It seemed every scramble had a view, and I was blessed with great weather.  Walking northwards on the ridge was pleasant with multiple scrambles and rocks to walk along.

I came to a swamp with a large rock that seems to have been detached from the rest of the rock.

When the Bearfort Ridge trail junctioned with the Ernest Walter trail, I went left, through a small field, then to some large rocks.  Fortunately, I was going down.  Here’s a shot looking back up.

Just beyond, I ran into a group of three, and warned them of what they were going to have to go up.  They mentioned that I had a big rock in store for me that they just came up.  I didn’t think I would have anything more difficult than the above.  They were right.  I don’t have any pictures (I didn’t want to stick around) but I basically came to a twelve foot cliff that had two spots that sort of looked like steps.  After not finding a way around this, I chucked my trekking poles down, slid out on the ledge, kind of twisted over and lowered myself down.  I regret not getting a picture, but I was more content on getting out of that spot.

Eventually, I junctioned with the Appalachain trail, and saw one thru/section hiker going by.  While waiting for a large-ish group of hikers to come scrambling down some rocks, I found a pretty cool looking web.

Scrambling up wasn’t too bad, though the rocks were in the sun and I thought about snakes sunbathing on top.  I figured the snakes would be gone after the group I waited for had left.

I met up with the State Line trail.  However, I wanted to see how far New York was up the Appalachian Trail.  It was much shorter than I expected.

Standing in two states at once

The State Line trail mostly descended until it junctioned back up with the Ernest Walter trail. Then it was a mad climb back up the Ernest Walter.  Again the payoff would be worth it as there expansive views of Greenwood Lake.  My pictures cannot do it justice.  There was a long walk on a large rock and view kept getting better and better as I climbed.  Stitch these next two pictures together.

It would be easy to sit on the rock and look at the view, but I was hungry and wanted to eat at Surprise Lake, a glacial lake.

And then it was down on the old Quail Trail, now part of the Bearfort Ridge Loop.

Orange Mycena

Many of the rocks were covered with Smooth Rock Tripe.  It was all over the place.

False Death Cap

There were a couple of water crossings, mostly dried up, a few with trickling water.  This would probably be much more interesting in the Spring after the rains.

Finally, it was back to where the connector trail led to the parking lot.

This was an awesome hike; it didn’t hurt that I had absolutely phenomenal weather.  I highly recommend this; though if you are going to do the Ernest Walter trail be prepared for some big scrambles.  It seemed that every facet of the this trail was awesome, there were no dull parts.  And for the most part, it is one big view.

Ticks:  0

Blazes:

Hiked:  9/19/2020

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest – Batona trail to Ong’s Hat

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  9.26 miles

Trails:  Batona Trail (to Ong’s Hat), Shinn’s road (back)

My Map:

 

My route, lollypop, going counter-clockwise

Back to Brendan T Byrne for another trail in 50 Hikes in New Jersey.  Today was a much better day, gorgeous sun, and not a cloud in the sky.  It was 33 when I got out of the car, and 42 when I returned with a light wind blowing the whole time.  Though, I didn’t notice it much as I was in the trees.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m not likely to backpack the whole trail, there are some other sections I might do; but I wanted to come back and do this section.

The trails were the of the same makeup, soft dirt, covered with pine needles or sandy roads – truly great to walk on.

Be aware that walking this portion of the Batona Trail does cross over some busy roads, though early on a Sunday morning I had no difficulty and saw limited traffic.  Two paved roads in particular to cross are Route 70 and Four Mile Road.  Within the forest there are numerous woods roads, unmarked trails and sandy/dirt roads that you will cross and are not on all maps.

A wide sandy portion of the trail, after crossing Route 70

After crossing Route 70, the first feature you will come to is Deep Hollow Pond.

Deep Hollow Pond

The trail meanders generally to the northeast, almost parallel to Bisphams Mill Creek.  There was no place that the trail actually goes to the creek, so my pictures had to be through the brambles.  You wouldn’t be able to see the creek in the summer with the foliage out.

Bisphams Mill Creek

There’s evidence of fire.

On a day like today, you could walk and walk.  I saw a couple of people running on the trail, and towards the end I met a couple with two dogs on leash.  Supposedly, bikes are not allowed, but there is definitely evidence that bikes use the trail.  Fortunately, I did not run into any.  On the way back from Ong’s Hat, I heard a motorbike, but I never saw it.  The only other noise to be heard were the cars on the roads you cross, and traffic on Route 72 while the trail is close by.

There is a spot where you have to cross Four Mile Road.  On a Sunday morning, there was no traffic.

Four Mile Road, looking north

Finally, I reached the northern terminus of the Batona Trail, located in Ong’s Hat.

Very much likely not THE tree

What is Ong’s Hat?  I’ll quote from 50 Hikes In New Jersey (second edition):

The story begins in the early 1700s, when Jacob Ong built a tavern here.  He was a Quaker from Pennsylvania who apparently strayed from the steady course and took a liking to dancing and flirting.  The tavern, which made an excellent halfway stop for stagecoaches travelling between Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore, soon became the scene of some wild goings-on, and in 1715, the history-making event occurred.  Jacob got in a fight with one of his girlfriends.  In a jealous rage, she grabbed the hat off his head and thew it high into a huge oak tree beside the tavern.  For years the hat remained caught in the high branches, and passersby would frequently say, “Look, there’s Ong’s hat.”  It took a while, but in 1828 the town got official recognition on New Jersey maps.  It is also shown on the USGS Browns Mills quad.  As for the tree, well, it was cut down in 1978 by the county highway department.

I walked around, I didn’t see any buildings or anything remaining of Ong’s Hat.  There was a deserted building across Route 72, but I wasn’t going to cross a very busy road to investigate.

On the way back, I took Shinns Road.  Straight.  Wide.  Sandy.

Shinns Road

I passed a section on the right where you could see that the trees had been cleared out, and after a while, where the forest resumed.

There were a bunch of spots along the Batona Trail where you entered forests of young trees, nature reclaiming its space.  The trees were close together, but not very tall.

Here’s a shot of (re)crossing Route 70 (early on a Sunday morning.)

At the beginning of the trail I walked by the Lebanon Fire Tower.  On the way back, I investigated.  There was nothing preventing me from climbing the tower, I don’t know if the door to the room at the top was open.  I wasn’t finding out.  And it had nothing do with the sign saying “no trespassing.”  There was no way I was going up those stairs.

Nope
Double Nope

I had a great time on this hike; the weather co-operated which made the hike pleasant.  This would be even better in the Spring or early Summer as you are in the shade for much of the hike.  Highly recommended.

Ticks:  0

Jersey Devil sightings: 0

Blazes:

Connector trail
Batona Trail
Batona Trail across a road

Hiked:  3/1/2020

Fire on Mt. Tammany

Attention New Jersey hikers, and those hikers from the surrounding areas headed to the Delaware Water Gap:

News broke today of a fire on Mt. Tammany in the Delaware Water Gap.  Numerous sources have plenty of information:

Lehigh Valley Online

NJ101.5

The Daily Record

At this time I did not see anything on the Worthington State Forrest page, nor did I see anything on the Delaware Water Gap National Park page.

It is reported that the fire was contained this afternoon.  Trails to the summit have been reported as closed, though sites are reporting that the Appalachian Trail remained open.

Brendan T. Byrne State Forest – Batona, Cranberry, Mount Misery, Lebanon Trails

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance:  12.5 Miles

Trails:  Connector, Batona, Cranberry, Mount Misery, Lebanon

My Map:

You can tell by the first picture that the sun is out and it looks like great weather for a hike.  That was true, to start.  I finished in the rain and with the temperatures lower than when I started.  This is another hike in “50 Hikes in New Jersey” that I wanted to check off, and it’s a great hike in the heart of the Pine Barrens.  One mistake I made (and rather crucial.)  I used the online map to plan my hike, figuring that there would be parking sort of where the Lebanon and the Cranberry Dot trail met.  That would make for a nice round trip of around eight miles.  Oops.  Parking is at the visitor center…I needed to take a trail or two to GET to my route, then a walk back to the car (from my proposed route.)  That’s how I got to 12 miles.  And yes, I’m still sore.

You’ll notice for this post there are almost as many pictures of blazes as there are of the hike itself.  There were many blazes on this hike, including one that isn’t on any map.

My original plan did not call for me to walk a portion of the Batona trail, but I’m glad I did.  I’m not one for much backpacking, so it’s doubtful I’ll ever hike the whole trail in one shot.  I may section hike it, because I really liked what I walked.  It’s well marked, and the trail (in this section) was a dream – loose dirt/sand, covered with pine needles.

Some pictures from the Batona trail:

I took the Batona trail to Pakim Pond Day Use Area, which, believe it or not, had people enjoying a cookout.  In 40 degree weather.  Pakim Pond looked like a cool area to hang out in the summer.

The next section of the hike was spent on the Mount Misery trail and the Lebanon trail, which is mostly a paved road through the forest.  It was at this point that the rain started, mostly as sprinkles.  But, it started to get dark, and the rain a little more intense, so I stuck to the Lebanon trail to shave off some time (and distance.)

I got back on the Mount Misery trail heading back to the park office.  Doing so took me through Reeves Cranberry bogs, which were really neat to see (even in the rain.)

Finally, I was back on the Cranberry trail headed back to the office.  There was a portion of the trail that was wide, but forest close-in on both sides of the trail.

This was a great hike in the Pine Barrens.  There was no elevation change to speak of and the trails were a dream to walk on, loose dirt/sand usually topped with pine needles.  There were only a couple of locations with plenty of roots.  And, on the Batona trail there was a long stretch of boardwalk.  As it had rained the night before, there were a few sections that were a little spongy but nothing impassable.  The Lebanon trail is paved (for vehicles) most of the way, with one portion that is a dirt road.  The Park office wasn’t open (it was a Sunday) so I would like to come back and see what the office had to offer.

Ticks:  0

Jersey Devil sightings: 0

Blazes:

Connector trail to the Batona trail:

Batona Trail:

Batona and Cranberry:

Mount Misery:

One of two blazes I saw for the Lebanon trail:

I have no idea what the heck this one is, it wasn’t on ANY map.  I saw a second one too.  Anyone who knows, leave a comment.

Cranberry Trail:

Hiked:  02/02/2020

Forest Resource Education Center

(This from the Pine Acre Drive entrance)

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 5.7 miles

Trails:  Yellow, Red, Blue (parts)

Map:

Edit:  Today is National Take A Hike Day, I knew about this in the past, but had forgotten when I set out today.

This was the first hike in a while, the hazards of hockey season.  And what a day:  42 degrees, cloudy, and windy.  I can’t remember where I heard of this park, but I was glad for a relatively close hike.  I wanted to hike starting at the southern section and I drove down Bowman Road where I had seen a parking lot on the map, but I couldn’t find the pull-off/parking area.  I didn’t know it was down Pine Acre Drive (pictures below.)  In fact, the kiosk picture is from that entrance.  Not finding the entrance, I drove to the Education Center (closed on a Sunday) and modified my hike.

There was one other car in the parking lot, and that gentleman was returning from a walk down the Sensory Trail.  I started with the Yellow (Pine Acre) trail and headed off.  Trails are wide, sandy, and at this time, covered with leaves and pine needles – super comfy to walk.

You have to keep your eyes open, horses can use the trail.

A couple of shots from the trail:

On a cold blustery day, this was the only color I saw:

Hunting is allowed in some areas, I did not see or hear any hunters, but I did see the following:

When I reached the southern entrance to the yellow trail, I took some pictures so I would know where to return to should I want to use this entrance.  Pine Acre Drive is right next to two houses off of Bowman Road, it doesn’t look like much of a road and it is certainly overgrown.

The Yellow trail deposits you back in the parking lot, so I headed off to the Red trail which is named the Firewise trail.  This path was crushed gravel and had numerous interpretive displays.

There were numerous Blue Bird houses with anti-squirrel baffles.  The Blue Birds prey on some of the invasive insects in the area.

On a cold blustery day, this was a good hike, taking me about two hours.  While the trails are well marked, there are other paint markings which I’m not sure what they were marking.  Also, there are numerous forest roads and intersecting trails that are not marked.  However, if you follow the blazes, you shouldn’t get lost.  Bear in mind, the Yellow trail crosses Don Connor Boulevard a couple of times – the road could be busy, but was not on this Sunday.  There was no road noise, and I did not hear any planes overhead either.  I heard a couple of birds, but saw no other wildlife.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked: 11/17/2019

Jenny Jump State Forest – Visitor’s Center to Ghost Lake

Park Site

Trail Map

Distance:  5.8 miles

Trails:  Swamp Trail -> Spring Trail -> Summit Trail -> Ghost Lake Trail (back to car on the Summit Trail)

Map:

It had been quite a while since I was able to hit the trails, with time filled up with marching band and hockey season.  As we are nearing the end of hockey season, I found a weekend where we only had one game scheduled; which meant I was able to make an attempt at getting out and hiking.  What a day too, it started out sunny and upper 40s at 8:00.  I reached the trail by 9:45 and it warmed up to the lower 50s though clouded up as the day went on.  When I finished it was around 55, and the clouds had come in.  I took many more pictures than I’ve posted, but I’ve determined the potato I’m using is not taking the pictures it used to, so, on future trips I will be trying a new camera app.  We’ll see.  I apologize in advance.

Starting out on the Swamp trail was a great beginning; trails were wide, dirt-based, covered with leaves.

At the end of the Swamp Trail, I turned onto the Spring Trail; and that’s where things took a turn.  Minor rock scrambling was necessary to ascend to the ridge and up to Jenny Jump Mountain.  The trail changed to mostly rocks – what I am most used to in North Jersey.  Once up to the ridge I hiked along until I caught up with ten members of a hiking club.  I trailed behind them until the rested near the top of Jenny Jump Mountain and then I walked on by.  Make sure to bushwack to the overlooks, there are some great views of the mountains and fields in the distance.

Eventually, I started the long descent towards Ghost Lake.  Eventually, I turned onto the Ghost Lake trail which was wide, but had its fair share of rocks.  There are two sections with minor rock scrambling in order to get down – I wasn’t thinking about the return trip…I would have to climb UP this section later.  There were some neat plant-life in the area, massive boulders (moved by glaciers) and even a small stream that fell towards Ghost Lake.

The boulder below is huge, and a tree had fallen from the incline on the right, landing on top of the boulder.  The trail winds UNDER the fallen tree.

Eventually, I exited the forest and got to Ghost Lake.

This was a great place to stop for a minute, eat, and grab something to drink.

After resting for a minute, I thought I would look for the Fairy Hole, a cave by the side of Ghost Lake.  In using Google Maps, I realized the cave was on the other side of Ghost Lake, and really didn’t want to walk all the way around when I had a trip (uphill) all the way back.  Off I went.  (And on the way back into the forest, I ran into the hiking group I had passed earlier.  I think I saw “Garden State Hiking Club” on one gentleman’s jacket. Hello again, if you’re reading.)

I took the Ghost Lake Trail back to the Summit Trail (uphill – all the way, including the rock scrambling I earlier descended) and turned on to the Summit Trail.  I planned to take the Summit Trail back to the car.  When I reached the highest point, I came across a bench facing a great view.

That’s the Delaware Water Gap in the distance…and it probably looks better on a) a less cloudy day, b) less leaves, and c) a better picture.  Continuing on, I was treated to more glacial erratics:

One last overlook had a great view of the fields:

Trails were well marked; while I had the trail map in my bag, I really didn’t need it.  On this hike I happened across more people than I had seen on the trails in a while. Even though it had rained the day before, the trails were in great condition.  I passed a whole bunch of campsites and shelters, and on a future trip here I think I would want to stay in a shelter; it looked like fun.  There were lots of squirrels, and I think the chipmunk militia was following me again; I heard them frequently.  I was walking in bear country again, but did not see any.

I chose Jenny Jump as it will probably be my only hike before Halloween; and there are lots of myths about the forest.  Supposedly, a young girl jumped to her death off one of the large boulders near the top of Jenny Jump mountain, and her spirit wanders the park.  Ghost Lake is named due to a local native American burial ground, or the steam and mist that rises from the lake in the mornings.  And, as an avid Weird NJ reader, I was right near Shades of Death Road.  Of course, I had to drive down the road so I could say I did.

I’m happy to say I made it back with no issues stopping for both pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts at a roadside stand.  Unfortunately, I saw no ghosts, and no bears, but it was a great hike and a great day.

Ticks:  0  (Though we did find one on the dog the next day, it’s not confirmed where the tick came from.)

Hiked:  10/14/2018