Trails – Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail (red), also known as the Burroughs Range Trail.
Montain – Mt. Wittenberg
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.
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.
Mountains: North Mt. Beacon, South Mt. Beacon, Lambs Hill
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trails: Orange, Blue, Yellow, White, and some unmarked trails
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.
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.
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.
Trails: Cushetunk (red), Campground (yellow on the map, but I never saw a blaze.)
A note on my map. You can see at the top left, the recording stopped. I don’t know if that was due to my phone (likely) or AllTrails (also likely.) This is the second time this has happened where I’ve had an incomplete map.
I had decided to take the Cushetunk trail as far as I could to my campsite, 73, then take the Campground trail back to the Cushetunk to hike out. There were a couple of spots where I questioned life’s decisions; one going up Cushetunk mountain. It didn’t stop going up – and it was only 833 feet. The other spot was the return trip, there are some stairs by the construction work at the dam. It wasn’t that bad, it’s just that it was 90, and I had done 11 or so miles at that point.
After a half mile into the hike there is a great overlook of the reservoir, right across from the ranger station.
All of the trails were lined with Wineberries. I didn’t know at the time that they are edible (they are) but I should have known when I saw people at the beginning of the trail picking bags full of them. They were all over the place. I should have sampled. I didn’t see bears this weekend, but bears could have gotten fat on the amount of wineberries I saw.
The Cushetunk trail diverts around ongoing construction around the dam. The trail comes across Hannon – Saurland pond. There are tons of signs telling you not to swim. EVEN with the heat of the hike, you couldn’t pay me to jump in this pond.
The reservoir, sure, I jumped in that.
There’s a stretch of the Cushetunk trail that follows a rock wall.
Eventually I came to a gate on the Cushetunk trail, and I had to jump on the Campground trail; which was my plan to get to the campsite.
Before setting up camp, I took a walk down to the water.
As usual, since I haven’t figured out panoramas, or how to stitch the pictures together, you’ll have to make do. The three pictures are left-to-right, of the reservoir.
Here’s the “trail” back to the campsite.
There was plenty of shade, and a constant breeze which kept the temperatures down.
My view of the reservoir from camp.
Before bed, I walked down to the reservoir to see the sun set. Other campers did as well. I could have stayed longer to capture the red sky, but I wanted to make sure I could get back to camp.
I woke up cold, it was 69 in the morning, with the breeze blowing.
I decided to start hiking back while the sun was not yet over the ridge. Here’s a shot of the Campground trail.
Eventually, though, the sun would come out blazing. It was already 90 when I got back to my car just after 10 in the morning.
This was a lot of fun, there were a lot of lessons learned. I would definitely do it again, though I wouldn’t take the full Cushetunk trail, and I would get a camp site early on the Campground trail.
Lantern Flies: 5 (all dead – I saw more, but they fly fast.)
Trails: Rocky Point, Battery Loop, Black Fish Cove
I last hiked this section of the park in 2016. I hiked the western side of the park in 2018. And what’s weird, all three times that I’ve hiked this park have been in the second week of July. My rationale this time was simply ease. I wasn’t planning on hiking today, but found the time, so I didn’t want to drive far.
I like the county park system, I’m not a fan of the trails in the parks; with the exception of Hartshorne Woods. And there have been great changes since I was last on this side of the park six years ago. For one, money has been spent to upgrade and make the part nicer and easier to get around. One example sits next to the trail kiosk; there is a stand to fix bikes, including an air pump. True, the park sees many mountain bikes, but it’s a nice touch to have a stand to fix bikes when needed. Further, (on this side of the park) the Rocky Point trail is really the only non-paved trail and it actually had blazes. Granted, with the number of bikes using the trail, you don’t have to worry about getting lost. I walked by restrooms, but I don’t know if the building was open.
My plan was to hike Rocky Point, and then hike Battery Loop, which I did not hike six years ago.
When I started, there was a dark rain cloud over the park. I wasn’t worried about rain as the rain was supposed to hold off until much later. At times it was pretty dark and with the trees real close it felt darker than normal.
The eastern side of the park is made up of the grounds of the former Navesink Military Reservation. While the batteries are the main attraction, there are other buildings and relics leftover from when the area was an active base.
The Rocky Point trail parallels the shore of the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers, though most of the time you are a hundred feet or so above the rivers. One part of the Rocky Point trail wanders by one of the old Fire Control Sites. I only approached to take a picture, I couldn’t tell if the building was accessible. My guess is not.
The sun peeked in and out for most of the hike, though came out for good at the end.
There were a couple of nice views of Sea Bright, that probably are nicer when the leaves are off the trees.
The trail walks above the rivers, and there are unmarked trails people have made to get down to the water. With erosion, some of those trails have become dangerous.
I took the quarter-mile long Black Fish Cove trail down to the pier. There are signs warning of a steep incline, but it really isn’t that bad. The pier looks out over the Navesink river. Take these next three pictures and stitch them left to right for a “panoramic” view of the Navesink River from the pier.
In the woods I found this hatch. I have no idea what it is, it’s not listed on any maps I have.
After finishing the Rocky Point trail, I dropped my trekking poles off at the car, as the Battery Loop trail is paved. I had never hiked the trail, and I was interested in the history.
Another tree swallowed by Kudzu.
The first battery I came to was Battery 219, which originally housed a 6-inch gun. The battery was not open.
The Battery Loop trail was lined with a bumper crop of Common Mugwort.
The main attraction on the Battery Loop trail is Battery Lewis, which originally held 16-inch guns. The original guns are long gone.
Here’s a shot looking down corridor between the two casements. Powder rooms, ammunition rooms and the electrical generators were housed down there. Apparently, there are tours on the weekends, but later in the day. I’ll have to do that once.
Since the original guns are gone, the County Park System was able to get a 16-inch gun from the battleship New Jersey. The original guns in the casement were 64 feet long, the New Jersey’s gun is 68 feet long. It’s huge. The shell could reach waters off Point Pleasant. The Navesink Military Reservation was built as an auxiliary to Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook. Two sites worth reading are:
I should have gone out on Saturday but the weather called for storms all day. It didn’t rain here. But I didn’t hike. I know I won’t get out for a couple of weeks, so I picked Garret Mountain Reservation to hike. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and pulling into the park, there were 100s of people all walking the road. It was packed.
I walked the yellow trail, which essentially parallels the road, but is off in the “woods.” The nice thing about the yellow trail is that I left all the people on the road. This was the first park I had seen horses on trail in quite a while.
I walked counter-clockwise, so my first landmark would be Barbour’s pond.
The other good thing about Garret Mountain Reservation is the Yellow trail keeps you off the pavement.
I did not actually summit Garret Mountain, as the trail follows the road around the park. Further, access to Lambert Castle was blocked off, and I would have like to have visit; even if I could not go inside.
There was plenty of deer; probably too many. Lots of chipmunks making noise too.
Heading north on the eastern side of the park had some gorgeous views, mostly because it was early and not hazy yet.
The observation tower grounds were open, but you could not climb the tower.
Garret Mountain Reservation is a nice park. I could not begin to pick up litter, there was far too much. There is plenty of road noise, and you will hear many planes as well. But, for a short jaunt, this was a nice destination.
Trails: Fairview (yellow), AT (white), Buckwood (turqoise), Sunfish Fire Road, Dunnfield Creek (green), Holly Springs (red)
For those wondering, this isn’t the typical Sunfish Pond loop. That loop starts at the Dunnfield Creek lot, and uses the full sections of the Appalachian Trail and Dunnfield Creek trail (and may be a tad longer too.) I wanted to stay away from the circus of people and chose to head to the Fairview lot off of Old Mine Road. When I pulled in around 8:20, I was the second car in the lot, and the first left while I was lacing up my boots. When I drove by the two hiker lots (of which one is the Dunnfield Creek lot) they were already mostly full. When I finished my hike, there was one other car in the lot. That’s not to say I didn’t see people; I saw a bunch of thru-hikers on the AT. But I “missed out” on the huge crowds at Mt. Tammany.
When I arrived at the Gap, there were lots of low clouds. Fortunately, once the sun came out it burned off all the clouds and became a great day. I thoroughly enjoyed the Fairview trail, though coming back I did not get to hike the whole Dunnfield Creek trail – and that’s a trail I really like.
Starting up the Fairview trail, the trail is nice and wide. At this time of year, there is lots of green,with ferns out all over the place.
The sun burned off the clouds early.
I passed a couple of spots with bear droppings, one really fresh. But alas, no bear sightings today.
I quickly came to the junction with the Appalachian Trail, and found this marking on the ground. 1300. I’m assuming miles, but I don’t know from which end.
The trails seemed damp, as if it had rained the night before. I don’t recall getting rain the day before. However, the mushrooms were out.
In case you have forgotten, or just don’t know what the AT is like in New Jersey…here is a typical section:
After stopping at the backpacker campsite to check things out, I quickly made it to Sunfish Pond. I had hiked this route close to 40 years ago, and I just don’t remember Sunfish Pond at all. On this day, it was gorgeous. The only sound were the frogs, and there were plenty. Here is Sunfish Pond, looking East.
I followed the Appalachian Trail along the northern edge – be advised there’s a small amount of rock scrambling at water’s edge. I took the Buckwood trail to continue going around the pond, as the AT heads north towards Raccoon Ridge. There is an overlook on the Buckwood trail that is (in my opinion) one of the best views of Sunfish Pond. It looks west, back from where I came.
Those clouds in the distance did start to build, but by the time I left the park, nothing had happened.
I was worried about what the Sunfish Fire Road would look like, as it is not “blazed” and that was my connection to the Dunnfield Creek Trail. I needn’t worried, it was not only pretty obvious, but signed. Further, the fire road is wide and pleasant to walk.
The junction with the Dunnfield Creek trail leads uphill, to the point of my highest elevation. And I’m glad I did the hike in the direction I did, as I would not have wanted to climb that hill with all the rocks. Going down was tough enough. I like the Dunnfield Creek trail, especially when it joins Dunnfield Creek. Be advised that there are a handful of stream crossings; all pretty easy as I had rocks sticking up above water. It could be a different story with higher water.
I almost stepped on this guy.
Mountain Laurel was still blooming; in some spots more than others.
The junction with the Holly Springs trail is pretty muddy. And it’s uphill almost all the way back to the junction with the AT and the Fairview trail.
All in all, this was a great hike. It was hot, the car said 84 when I returned to it. And it was a little muggy. I’m glad I chose the Fairview lot (and trail) as the Dunnfield Creek lots were jammed when I returned, I assume cars were in the overflow lot on the other side of Route 80.