Coppermine Trail/AT

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

This is a great hike-actually two hikes. There’s the long version (10.8 miles) – a back way up to Sunfish Pond-and the not-so-long version (6 miles)-a climb up to the Kittatinny Ridge and back. Whether you go the full distance or not, either route would be a great way to enjoy some of the best scenery in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. You will climb over 1,000 feet, see some spectacular waterfalls and get some classic long views from the ridge line both to the east and to the west.

The hike begins right along the Delaware River and takes you straight up the side of Kittatinny Mountain. You will follow a beautiful stream that cascades down from the ridge top that will make the climb up seem like an afterthought (mostly).  At the top, you will follow the ridge line and be treated to some of the best views you can find in New Jersey. There’s a good chance you will see a bear or two along the way and even the long version of the hike can be completed in about 4 hours since the real effort is front-loaded into the first mile or so.

Directions

The trailhead is located on the west side of Old Mine Road, just over 7 miles north of Route 80. To get here, get off of Route 80 at exit 1, just before the bridge over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. At the bottom of the exit the road will split. Left will take you under the highway to the Visitor’s Center. Right will take you to Old Mine Road.  As soon as you turn right from the exit, you will see a traffic light. This light controls traffic on a narrow one-lane section of Old Mine Road and meters flow from each direction. It may take several minutes to get the green light to proceed. DO NOT get impatient and go through the red light!

Enjoy the drive on Old Mine Road. You will be traveling through Worthington State Forest for the first 5 miles and you will pass several recreation areas and other trail heads as you head north. Old Mine Road is one of the oldest continually used roads in America and traces its origins back to the Dutch Settlers who came to New Jersey in the late 17th Century.  You may come to the conclusion that the last road maintenance occurred around that time as well. You’ll have to dodge a fair number of pot holes as you make your way.  A dam proposed at Tocks Island in the 1960’s would have dammed the Delaware River here and created a nearly 40 mile long lake. This road would have been under about 140 feet of water.

Just over a mile after leaving Worthington State Forest (marked by a sign welcoming you to the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area),  you will come to the Copper Mines Parking Area on the left, also marked by a sign. Pull in here. The trail begins on the opposite side of the road directly across from the entrance to the lot.  Take a moment to appreciate a great view of the river from the parking area. There is a kiosk with a map of the trails and an explanation of the mining history of the site here as well.  This was the location of the Pahaquarry Copper Mine.

The Hike

This hike begins opposite from the Copper Mine parking area on the east side of Old Mine Road. The trailhead is marked by a wooden sign. You will be following the red-blazed Coppermine Trail, the white-blazed Appalachian Trail and the blue-blazed Kaiser Trail. If you choose the extended version of the hike, you will do a short out-and-back on the turquoise-blazed Turquoise Trail (now called the “Buckwood Trail”) to a view over Sunfish Pond. You can download a copy of the National Park Service’s trail map here. The trails are all well-marked and well-maintained. There are no really confusing intersections or navigational challenges. You can just head out on the trail and use the map to gauge your progress.

As you enter the woods, you will immediately come to the ruins of the mining operations at this site that gives the trail its name. There are stone foundations and other remnants just off of the trail that you can explore. You will also see several mine openings that have been blocked off as you walk. The trail at this point goes in one direction-up, just follow the red blazes.  About 1/4 mile in you will pass a trail that leaves to your right marked by a wooden sign that reads “Kaiser Trail Spur 0.4 miles”. You will be returning on this trail in a little while.

You are going to climb steeply away from Old Mine Road.  To your left and below you will see a creek lined with hemlocks cascading down a series of waterfalls. This creek will parallel the trail for the next mile or so and will make your steep climb much more palatable.  In about 1/2 mile, the trail will turn left to cross this creek on a wooden foot bridge. When the flow is high, this is a great place to take a couple of pictures.

After crossing the bridge the trail turns right on the north side of the creek and continues to climb steeply. This entire stretch of trail features a series of waterfalls, although the creek is well below you to your right.  Take note of the opposite side of the creek. The sheer hillside covered in rhododendrons and mountain laurel is striking.  At about the 1 mile mark, you will come to a hemlock grove where the stream splits at another series of falls. Here you can access the creek and this is another terrific place to take some pictures and to enjoy the sound of the water and the beauty of the spot.

See more pictures from this hike on the Photographs Page

Leaving the hemlock grove, the trail will climb some more for about a 1/4 mile before leveling off. You have done most of the hard work for this hike. That’s not to say you’re done climbing-you’re not-it’s just that you won’t have anything like what you just accomplished ahead of you. As the trail levels off, the woods change. You go from the hemlock lined gorge into more of a typical hardwood forest of oak, maple and beech. For the next mile the trail “trends” uphill, rather than climbs. Near the end of the Coppermine Trail you will crest a small ridge before heading slightly downhill to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail marked by the well-known white rectangles. To your left is a parking area and trailhead on Camp Road where a lot of hikers enter this section without the need for the climb you just made. (I’m not judging anyone here!) Turn right onto the Appalachian Trail here and continue to head uphill on the spine of the ridge top.

You will be walking along the ridge top for the next two miles. You will be teased by glimpses of long views on both sides of the trail but without any real open spots. You will pass two unmarked side trails that head to your left and lead to some very nice views eastward.  They are worth the small detours. However, at about 1 1/2 miles from the spot where you turned off of the Coppermine Trail, you will come to an open east looking view that is just spectacular. Below you will see Yards Creek Reservoir and to your right the nose of Mount Tammany.  This is a place to take a seat and have a drink and a snack before continuing on.

In another 1/2 mile you will come to the intersection with the blue blazes of the Kaiser Trail. It heads off to your right. It’s about 2 miles and 40 minutes of walking downhill back to the parking area from this spot. Turning right here will give you a six mile loop with over 1,200 feet of vertical climbing. (That’s a perfectly acceptable day in the woods!)  Continuing on to Sunfish Pond adds 4.8 miles (2.4 miles out and 2.4 miles back) and about another 1 1/2 hours of hiking. There are a couple of small climbs of around 50 feet in elevation along the trail so use this to guide your decision. If you’re heading back from here, skip the next three paragraphs. 

Optional Extension

Should you decide to continue on, you will  be following the AT along the ridge line. In about 1/2 mile you will come to a sign indicating you are leaving the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area and entering Worthington State Forest. This is just past a spot where the AT has been re-routed and turns right and climbs higher on the ridge.   About 1/4 mile past the sign you will come to a beautiful west looking view from a bare section of  the ridge. You can see a long stretch of the Delaware River laid out 1,000 feet below you. I don’t need to tell you this is another spot for some photographs.  This is also the high spot on the hike at about 1,530 feet.

In about another mile the trail will leave the ridge line and enter into some deeper woods. Keep an eye out for the intersection with the Turquoise Trail-it can be easy to miss. When you come to the Turquoise Trail, turn left and follow the trail about 1/4 mile to an elevated overlook of Sunfish Pond from the north end. This is one of my favorite spots in New Jersey. Another place to rest, take some pictures and have a drink or snack. When you’ve had enough of this place re-trace your steps on the Turquoise Trail and turn right on the Appalachian Trail to head back. It’s almost 2 1/2 miles of backtracking to the intersection with the Kaiser Trail.

Now I’m not encouraging this type of behavior, but if you’re really feeling it, you can add another 1 1/2 miles to this hike (that would be 12.3 in total!) by looping around Sunfish Pond.  There’s never a bad day to walk around the pond, but this will turn the hike into a “Death March”. It will take a little over 1/2 hour to circle the pond-so make sure you’ve got the extra time. To do this, continue on the Turquoise Trail away from the AT.  A short climb will bring you to the Sunfish Pond Fire Road that follows the east shore of the pond.  Turn right and take the fire road to the end.  Turn right again and follow the Dunnfield Creek trail for about 150 feet back to the AT at the south end of Sunfish Pond.  Turn right and follow the AT along the west shore of the pond and then all the way back to the Kaiser Trail from here.

Back to the Return Hike

So, short version or long version, you will be taking the Kaiser Trail downhill from here. The blazes are intermittent but this is an easy trail to follow. In about 1 mile you will come to a spur trail marked by a wooden sign that heads off to your right. This will take you to the Coppermine Trail at the hemlock grove. That’s an alternate way back but requires backtracking 1 mile of the red trail. Stay on the Kaiser Trail here and continue downhill. You will get some seasonal views down on the Delaware River here through the trees but nothing spectacular. After descending another 1/2 mile you will come to a second spur trail heading to your right (Also marked by a wooden sign).  Take this one. It’s just under 1/2 mile downhill back to the red blazes of the Coppermine Trail, just above the ruins.  Turn left here and head back to the trail head and the parking area.

Pocono Environmental Education Center

Let me take you on a very nice day trip to eastern Pennsylvania. This is a hike just outside of New Jersey. In fact, at one point you will get a very nice view of the Kittatinny Ridge, just on the other side of the Delaware River back in the Garden State. The Pocono Environmental Education Center in Dingman’s Ferry, PA offers 12 miles of hiking trails that are fairly challenging and that provide the ability to combine trails into loops of varying length to suit your taste. While there are no mountain top views to wow you, the scenery is gorgeous with thick forest, streams, ponds and waterfalls to make this a hike worth taking.

I took this hike on a Memorial Day weekend when my wife and I were intending on hiking the Delaware Water Gap trails, only to find the parking areas full and overflowing. We just continued on Route 80 into Pennsylvania since we had already considered the PEEC as a backup destination. It turned out to be a great alternative-although it was a busy day at the environmental center as well. We were lucky to find a spot to park in the overflow lot in a field across from the main buildings.

The hike described here is a loop of a little over 6 miles and will take you from one end of the center’s land to the other. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to complete this journey. That included a bit of an extended stop at a spectacular waterfall and a little wandering through the center’s grounds. There are no real heart-attack climbs, but there is sufficient elevation change, particularly on the Tumbling Waters Trail, to give you a good workout. (plus, 6 1/2 miles is 6 1/2 miles no matter how you slice it!) Even so, this is a good hike for children, and if they are restless, you can bail out at the halfway mark.  The visitor’s center has some displays about the ecology of the area, a book shop and restrooms.

Directions

I tend to be a little old school in giving directions, but for those who don’t follow turn-by-turn routes, if you put 538 Emery Road, Dingmans Ferry, PA 18328 into your GPS device of choice, it will take you there. Otherwise, if you’re coming from New Jersey, take U.S. Route 206 north-way north-past Culver Lake and Stokes State Forest. Make a left onto County Route 560, Tuttle’s Corner-Dingman’s Road. This will take you to the Dingman’s Ferry Bridge, which is almost worth the trip in and of itself. This is the last privately-owned bridge on the Delaware River and has a history that dates back to the ferry crossing at this location that was established in 1735. Drive across the wooden planked bridge and pay a toll of $1.00 on the Pennsylvania side-usually collected by a person standing in the road with a carpenter’s apron full of change and dollar bills. (Bring a dollar-no make it two because you pay both ways-there’s no E-Z Pass!)

Once on the other side of the bridge, you will be on PA Route 739 and will quickly come to a traffic light at the intersection with U.S. Route 209. Make a left onto 209 south. In 1/2 mile you will make a right onto Wilson Hill Road. Follow this road for 5 miles. It will change names to Chestnut Ridge Road and then to Emery Road-but you’re basically staying on the same road until you reach the environmental education center on your left. If you can’t find parking in the center lot, go past the driveway and you will see a grass parking area across the road from the center. Cross over the road and to the right of the visitor’s center you will find the trail head for the orange Tumbling Waters Trail and blue Fossil Trail, where this hike begins.

The Hike

You can download a copy of the center’s trails map here. For this hike you will be following the Orange Tumbling Water Trail, the Red Scenic Gorge Trail and the Yellow Ridgeline Trail. The trails are well-marked. The only confusing areas are around the visitor’s center where you’re walking through the center’s facilties. You will start out on the co-aligned Tumbling Waters Trail and Fossil Trail. The trails will soon split and you will bear slightly to the right following the the orange blazes when the blue Fossil Trail turns sharply left.

You will go over some ups and downs before coming to a road crossing. The orange trail continues on the other side of the road following a stream for a short distance before heading slightly uphill on a wide path. In about 1/2 mile, you will reach the ruins of an old building to the right of the trail. At this point, the trail follows the side of a ridge line and you will be able to get the only real long views on this hike. Off to your left you will look out across the tilled fields along the Delaware River and the see the Kittatinny Ridge on the other side of the river in New Jersey.

In about a 1/4 mile from this spot, the trail will turn left and descend steeply on a set of constructed steps into a very pretty hemlock gorge. At the bottom of this descent you will reach the real highlight of the hike, a beautiful waterfall surrounded by hemlocks.  This seemed to be the main destination for hikers on the day of our visit as the area around the falls was a popular place for people to take pictures and splash around in the stream.  Take a few minutes to linger here and grab a few photographs.

See more pictures from this hike on the Photographs Page

Continuing on, the trail will climb steeply out of this gorge and pass through a section of forest with a significant amount of downed trees. In about 1/2 mile you will come to an intersection with the white blazed Two Ponds Trail that will leave to your right to follow the eastern shore of a pond that is just through the woods in that direction. You will soon come to the western shore of that same pond. When you reach the far northern end of the pond you may see canoes or kayaks on the shore.

The trail continues through some dense forest for another 1/4 mile before reaching a road crossing. The orange trail picks up on the other side of the road and goes through some more forest that shows signs of storm damage. Another pond will be just off to your right.  In about 1/4 mile you will come to a second road crossing and the visitor’s center will be directly in front of you on the other side of Emery Road.

One interesting feature of this section of trail is an educational display on a very short detour to your left. A “grave yard”  marked by tombstones for different types of litter and trash, including tires and plastic bottles-two things I always enjoy finding in the woods. The grave makers tell you how long it takes for discarded items to decompose if left in the environment. (Glass Bottles & Styrofoam never die!) A good reminder to carry your own trash out with you and dispose of it properly.

You can bail out here.  You just walked three miles and saw a spectacular waterfall, so if you’ve had enough, walk around the visitor’s center or head home. If not, the next part of the hike will take you around the northern end of the center’s property and will be another 3 1/2 miles and about an hour to an hour and a half of walking.  To your left you will see a sign for and the yellow blazes of the Ridgeline Trail. Follow this trail back into the woods near some of the educational center’s buildings (and their wastewater treatment system) before you head into some deeper forest.

Along this stretch, the woods were filled with the songs of spring birds like wood thrush and veerys.  Their calls echoed through the trees and added to the enjoyment of the hike. About 1 mile from the visitor’s center, the Ridgeline Trail and the red-blazed Scenic Gorge Trail will split. The Ridgeline Trail continues straight while the Scenic Gorge Trail turns right. This is another location where you can cut the hike short. Turning onto the Scenic Gorge Trail here will take about 1 1/2 miles and 45 minutes off of the hike. Otherwise, continue on the yellow trail as you head into some deeper woods that will give you a more remote feeling than anything you’ve encountered this far.

Just about 1 mile after the intersection with the Scenic Gorge Trail the Ridgeline Trail will turn right to loop back towards where you came from. The trail will pass along the shore of a small remote pond. In a short distance, the trail will begin to follow a very nice stream back to an intersection with the red blazes of the Scenic Gorge Trail that is not far from where the two trails had split earlier. You’ll follow the red trail from here as it crosses the stream you have been following just above a small waterfall on a couple of wooden planks.

The red trail will follow this stream for a short distance before veering to the right and away from the water.  You’re in the home stretch here as the trail climbs slightly through the woods before leveling off, then heading slightly downhill before emerging onto the education center’s grounds near some dormitory buildings. Follow the driveways back towards the visitor’s center and the main parking area where this hike ends.

The Pocono Environmental Education Center is on the grounds of the former “Honeymoon Haven” resort, that dates back to the days when the Pocono Mountains were a popular destination for newlyweds. Today it offers a variety of educational programs centered on sustainable practices. You may want to return to take advantage of their programming or to visit the old quarry on the property where you can see 400 million year old fossils.  Some of the programs involve overnight stays. A visit here can be a lot more than just a great hike.

 

 

 

 

Schooley’s Mountain Park

Here’s a modest hike that gives you a little bit of everything. Beautiful scenery, a little bit of a climb, a great view, waterfalls and a great destination for a day trip in one package. Schooley’s Mountain Park in Long Valley is a terrific place to hike. This is a kid-friendly hike that has interesting things to see and a destination where you can relax and enjoy a picnic lunch if you want to make a day of it. It is, above all else, a very pleasant hike.

The route you will follow here takes advantage of all of the available trails at this location to give you some distance, some points of interest and to provide a bit of a challenge, but not too much. You’ll pass through farm fields, cross the South Branch of the Raritan River, walk a short distance on the Columbia Trail, follow a beautiful mountain stream, reach a small lake and pass through some very nice forest. In total, the hike is about 3 1/2 miles with 400 feet of vertical climbing. If you dont’ stop (but you should) you can make this loop in just under 2 hours.

Directions

The park itself, with the boathouse, the playing fields and other park facilities is located on East Springtown Road. It’s just off of Schooley’s Mountain Road (Route 517/Old Route 24) about 1/2 way up Schooley’s Mountain heading towards Hackettstown out of the center of Long Valley. But that’s the destination, not where this hike will begin and end.  This hike starts at the trailhead/parking area on Route 513, about south of the center of Chester and about a mile north of the center of Long Valley. To get here, take Route 513 south from Chester, or if you’re coming from the south, take 513 north from the intersection with Route 31 in High Bridge. As I mentioned before, the trailhead is between the center of Chester and the center of Long Valley at the intersection of 513 and Washington Valley Road. There’s parking for about a dozen cars and an information kiosk on the edge of an agricultural field. Park here and the trail will follow a mowed path straight ahead towards the tree line in the distance.

See more pictures from this hike on the Photographs page.

The Hike

This is a fairly easy hike to navigate. The trails are well-maintained and well-marked. There is only one confusing spot where you can make a wrong turn, but you’ll know right away if you do and can get back on the route easily.  You can download a map of the park’s trails here. The start of this hike can be located in the map’s inset.

You’ll be following the blue blazes of Patriot’s Path co-aligned with the teal blazes of the Highlands Trail, the Columbia Trail, the white blazes of Patriot’s Path, also co-aligned with the Highlands Trail, the blue-blazed Falling Waters Trail, back to Patriot’s Path to the orange-blazed Upland Meadow Trail,  to the yellow Grand Loop Trail, to the yellow Bee-Line Trail, back to Patriot’s Path where you will re-trace your steps back to the parking area.

Starting from the parking area on Route 513 you will see a mowed path leading along the edge of a farm field heading away from the road. Follow this path. There is a Patriot’s Path trail marker on a post marking the way. When you reach the edge of the field, the trail will enter a wooded area, but the path will still be wide and easy to follow.  You will quickly come to a bridge over the South Branch of the Raritan River. Cross the bridge and you will reach the Columbia Trail which follows the old right-of-way of the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s High Bridge Branch. Turn right here.

Follow the old rail bed about 1/4 mile until you see the white blazes of Patriot’s Path head off to your left (also blazed as the Highlands Trail). Make that left and follow the trail to a parking area on Fairview Road. The trail will cross the road and re-enter the woods. You will come to a junction where the yellow Bee Line Trail  is to your right and Patriot’s Path/Highlands Trail head uphill to your left. Bear left here and start climbing.  It’s a modest climb and you’ll gain about 300 feet in elevation over the next mile.

You will reach a view point looking out at the farm fields of the “long valley” that gives the area its name. It’s a good place to pause and take in the vista. Leaving the view point, the white trail will almost immediately come to a junction with a pink trail and the blue blazed Falling Waters Trail.  The white trail will head uphill to your right while the blue trail will go left. Follow the blue blazes and you will begin to descend towards Electric Brook. The trail will reach and begin to follow this brook uphill. You will pass a series of waterfalls along this stretch as you climb towards Lake George, a small pond that is the centerpiece of the park.

The blue trail will end at the dam for the pond where Electric Brook begins its tumble down the hillside. This is where it can get confusing because you will need to navigate your way through the day use area. Follow the path that leads around the edge of the pond to the boathouse at the far end. There is a parking area here, a playground, playing fields and picnic benches. This is a good place to explore and stop for lunch if you are hiking with children.

When you’re done here, cross the parking area and the playing fields and walk to the edge of the parking lot for the field area and picnic shelter. You will find the orange blazes of the Upland Meadow Trail heading towards an open grassland. Don’t take the yellow Grand Loop Trail that will branch off to your right. Follow the orange blazes on posts that will take you on a mowed path through a beautiful wildflower meadow.  The trail will enter the woods at the far end of this field and turn right where the orange trail will end at a junction with the Grand Loop Trail and its yellow blazes. Head straight on the yellow trail. You will  reach a junction with the red-blazed Highlands Cut. You can extend your hike by taking this trail to the right which will take you the Grand Loop Trail in about 3/4 mile where you would turn left to the junction with the Bee Line Trail. If you don’t want to add this distance to your walk, continue straight on the Grand Loop Trail as it begins to descend.

You will come to a trail junction where the Grand Loop Trail turns right and the Bee Line Trail continues downhill. Continue straight downhill on the Bee Line Trail.  NOTE: If you added the Red Trail to Yellow Trail extension to your hike you will come to this same junction but turn right onto the Bee Line Trail.  Follow the Bee Line Trail to the bottom of the hill where you will return to the white blazes of Patriot’s Path just before crossing back over Fariview Avenue.

From this point, pass through the parking lot and re-trace your steps on the Columbia Trail to the blue blazes of the Patriot’s Path, back over the river and across the farm field, back to your car. Having finished this hike you can add to your day by visiting one of the areas farms. Ort’s Farm is walking distance from the parking area. Alstede’s Farm and Stony Hill Farm are a short distance north on Route 513 in Chester. They all offer on-farm experiences like pick-your-own fruits and vegetables, farm markets, hay rides and other activities. If visiting one of the local farms isn’t your speed, 1/4 mile south on route 513 will bring you to the Chilton Mill Brewery and you will find a number of great restaurants in the center of Long Valley. Any of these would be a great way to top off a very pleasant day walking in the woods.

viewfield trip

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

I had been resisting going back to Ramapo Mountain State Forest. The last time I hiked here, Route 287 was still under construction and the Cannonball Trail and Hoferlin Memorial Trail had recently been re-routed onto a bridge crossing the new highway. Travelers on 287 will see the bridge with the sign “Cannonball Trail” as they pass near exit 57 for Skyline Drive. The proximity of the highway and the fact that the parking areas were always crowded led me to bypass this park and head to the nearby Wyanokie trails that offered a little more seclusion and little more  in the way of climbing and views. I should have broken down and re-visited this beautiful park sooner.

An early January visit was magical. A foggy day with drizzle and temperatures in the upper 50’s turned out to be a great day for a hike. Although you won’t be able to tell from the pictures taken on this particular hike, views of the Manhattan skyline to the east and of the Wyanokies and beyond to the west abound.  The hike I’ll describe here was just challenging enough in both distance and elevation to provide experienced hikers with a workout but also accessible for those not looking for an expedition into the wilderness.    

This hike clocks in at just over eight miles and will involve around 1,000 feet in elevation gain. Although none of the climbing is particularly steep, you’ll be going up and down a lot as you cover the route. There will also be a number of “escape” points where you can choose to cut the hike short if you’re tired, the kids are complaining, daylight is getting short, you hear thunder approaching or you’re just done with hiking for the day. Along the way you’ll pass beautiful Ramapo Lake, dozens of waterfalls and visit the ruins of Van Slyke Castle, an old mansion that is now just an old stone shell of a building after being burned by vandals in 1959. This is a popular place so you will likely encounter other hikers and the sound of traffic on 287 or Skyline Drive never quite fades away. However, you’ll still get that feeling of being deep in the woods and sighting a bear or two is not out of the question.  What you’ll probably remember more will be the sounds of the many waterfalls and the songs of the birds you encounter as you walk these woods. 

Directions

This isn’t a hard place to find. Your biggest difficulty may be finding a parking spot, particularly on autumn weekends. This hike starts at the “Lower Lot” on Skyline Drive. If this lot is full, you may find parking at the upper parking areas about a mile west and uphill on Skyline Drive. You can adjust the hike as necessary if you start from this alternate location. (I’ll note it in the hike description). To get here take Route 287 to exit 57 for Skyline Drive in Oakland, NJ.  If you’re coming from the north (southbound 287), bear to the right at the end of the exit. This will put you directly onto Skyline Drive and the entrance to the parking are will be on your left in about 500 feet.  If you’re coming from the south (287 North) the exit will take you to a traffic light at W. Oakland Avenue. Make a left at the light, bear left at the next traffic light and go back under 287. The parking are will be on your left in about 1,000 feet.

The Hike

This hike begins at the lower parking lot on Skyline Drive. At the far left side of the parking lot you will find a trail kiosk where the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail heads off into the woods. You will be following the blue MacEvoy Trail, the red (with a “C”) Cannonball Trail,  the white Castle Point Trail, back to the MacEvoy Trail to the orange Wanaque Ridge Trail, to the red (with a “triangle”) Indian Rock Trail, back to the Cannonball Trail to an unmarked woods road to the yellow-blazed Hoferlin Memorial Trail, back to the blue MacEvoy Trail to return to the parking lot. It will take every bit of four hours to complete. As I said above, you can bail out at several points on this hike and cut it short to return sooner if you wish. You can download a trail map from the NJ Department of Parks & Forestry here, or from the NY-NJ Trails Conference here. I’ve always been partial to the Trails Conference maps. You can purchase the “North Jersey Trails” set of maps that includes this hike from the Trails Conference. Pay attention to the trail markings as there are numerous unmarked woods roads and trails that will intersect the marked trails.

See More Pictures From This Hike On The Photographs Page

Head out following the blue blazes of the MacEvoy Trail as you will travel up a moderate incline that follows a beautiful creek that tumbles down the hillside in a series of waterfalls. In about 1/4 mile the trail will bear right to cross a stream and the white blazes of the Castle Point Trail will leave to your right. Stay on the Blue and continue uphill as you scramble over several rock outcrops. About 1/2 mile in from the parking area the yellow blazes of the Hoferlin Memorial Trail leave to your right (also marked by a sign). Again stay on the blue trail (co-aligned with the yellow) straight ahead and you will quickly reach Ramapo Lake.   

At the lake you will emerge onto an unpaved road. The blue trail turns right onto this road and then quickly left onto unpaved “North Shore Road” to follow the north shore of the lake (go figure!). The trail hugs the lake’s shoreline passing several homes before reaching a junction with the white Castle Point Trail and the red “C” Cannonball Trail. Turn right at this junction. The white trail will head left and uphill while the Cannonball Trail heads further right and uphill following an unpaved road.  Take the Cannonball Trail at this point and head uphill. For the next mile the Cannonball Trail will follow this road or parallel it just a short distance into the woods.  You’ll be gaining elevation through this stretch, but nothing too taxing.  The trail makes a number of switchbacks through here which can be maddening. You will see where other hikers have headed straight uphill bypassing these twists in the trail. Just keep an eye on the blazes.  

Eventually, the red and white blazes of the co-aligned red “Skyline Connector” trail and the white Castle Point Trail will join the Cannonball Trail from your right. If you go right, this short trail leads to the upper parking areas on Skyline Drive (remember I said I would note where you could join this hike if you have to park here) in less than 1/4 mile. Head left at this junction and follow the co-aligned Cannonball and Castle Point Trail along the unpaved road you have been tracking for the past mile. The Cannonball Trail will head straight and the white blazes will turn left to leave the road and enter the woods. Follow the white blazes. The white trail will come to a rock outcrop that has view (but on the day I did this just a view off into the white void of clouds) before descending steeply.   

Keep an eye out for the white blazes through this section. The trail will cross (and briefly follow) a pipeline right-of-way where you can miss the turns. There are also several stream crossings here.  After leaving the pipeline right-of-way the trail will start to climb and you will soon see the remains of a stone water tower ahead of you. The trail reaches the crest of the hill and passes the water tower before heading to the ruins of Van Slyke Castle. You can read a bit about the history of this place here. Take some time to explore the site, just be careful. The white trail will head away from the ruins before descending sharply and you will quickly reach the junction with the blue trail and the Cannonball Trail you had previously passed. Turn right here and follow the co-aligned MacEvoy and Cannonball Trails for a short distance before they diverge where the blue blazes head right and the red “C” blazes head left. Turn right here and continue on the blue trail.  

The blue trail heads into some deeper woods here. In about 1/4 mile the trail will reach a pipeline right-of-way where it will turn right to follow the right-of-way for a short distance before turning left.  Just past this turn-off the blue trail will turn right  and straight ahead will be the orange-blazed Wanaque Ridge Trail (also marked by a sign). Head straight onto the orange trail. In a short distance, the orange trail will begin a substantial descent before turning sharply left.  You will pass through some deeper woods here before the trail begins a modest climb up to a ridgeline switching back several times before turning sharply left to follow the ridge. (a rougue “blue trail” joins here-just ignore it and follow the orange blazes).   There are several nice view points along this stretch, but again, on my hike I was just staring off into the fog.

You will descend from the ridge before climbing modestly (again), emerging back onto a pipeline right-of-way (turn right) before climbing some more on a set of rock steps (turn left). In about a 1/4 mile you will reach the end of the orange trail at a junction with the Indian Rock Trail marked by a red triangle. Head slightly left here (really straight ahead) following the triangles for a very short distance before you again intersect the Cannonball Trail. Turn left and follow the “C” once more.

In 1/4 mile the Cannonball Trail will turn sharply left while an unmarked woods road continues straight.  Stay on the unmarked road. In 250 feet, another unmarked road will head left. You can turn here to follow this road along the shore of Ramapo Lake back to the Blue Trail or you can continue straight ahead. If you continue straight (which I recommend) head through the woods for about 1/2 mile before reaching the yellow-blazed Hoferlin Memorial Trail which joins this road from your right. Head straight on the yellow trail (the unmarked road will turn off) and follow the yellow blazes to a view point overlooking Route 287. Continue following the yellow blazes. You will pass several more views as you head along a ridge. The red Lookout Trail will join in about 1/2 mile. Follow the yellow/red trails straight ahead. Eventually, the trail will reach the outlet of Ramapo Lake. Follow the road over the lake’s outflow and you will return to the blue MacEvoy Trail. Turn right and follow the blue blazes downhill back to the parking area.

I’m going to have to go back and take this hike again when you can actually enjoy the views. Nevertheless, it was a really nice hike even in the fog and drizzle. For all of the ups and downs, it wasn’t too difficult. No real heart-attack climbs and no really tough terrain to navigate. The exertion in this hike comes from the distance. The trails are well-maintained and well-marked and you don’t have to follow the complete route I described here (unless you want to). Just always keep in mind that this is a VERY popular hiking spot and can get crowded. Even during the week you will find cars in the lot. However, this is a very pleasant hike that is well worth the effort you will put in.

Mt. Tammany/Sunfish Pond/Kittatinny Fire Road

This hike will test your stamina but will reward you with spectacular views and a trip through some of the state’s wildest terrain. The hike up to Sunfish Pond has been called the best hike in New Jersey. I’m going to go one better and send you on one of my favorite hikes. You’ll get that highly rated trip to Sunfish Pond in, but with a few extra bonus features. This route follows beautiful Dunfield Creek, takes you around Sunfish Pond, along the crest of the Kittatinny Ridge and finally to a spectacular overlook with an iconic view of the Delaware Water Gap. It is about a 10 1/2 mile loop that will challenge you both in distance and with elevation gain (over 1,500 feet). If you’re hiking in the warmer months you’re likely to encounter bears and rattlesnakes along the route. This hike features some steep climbs and rocky terrain so make sure you’re wearing appropriate footware. Take plenty of water, check the weather and prepare for a great hike that will take you around 4 -5 hours to complete, dependent upon how long you linger at each beautiful spot you will pass. 

Directions

This is an easy place to find. Take Route 80 west to the Dunfield Creek/Appalachian Trail exit, right past mile marker 1. When you exit the highway, there will be a parking area immediately to the right. On peak hiking days, the main parking lot may be full and you will need to return here if you cannot find a spot in the A.T. area. (If that’s the case, you’ll need to get back on 80, get off at the last exit in NJ, go under the highway and come back on 80 east to the U-Turn at the weigh station exit and back onto 80 west in order to come back around again) Otherwise, bear left at the exit and take it to the parking area for the Appalachian Trail.

See more pictures from this hike on the Photographs page

The Hike

I noticed on my last visit that some of these trails now have been renamed. The Red Dot Trail is now the Mt. Tammany Trail. The Blue Dot Trail is now the Pahaquarry Trail (A little homage to the now defunct Pahaquarry Township). The Turquoise Trail is now called the Buckwood Trail. You can find descriptions here. It doesn’t change anything. They’re still blazed the same and go to the same places-they just have new names. I’m going to still refer to them by their old names.

You will be following the white blazed Appalachian Trail to the green blazed Dunnfield Creek Trail, back to the Appalachian Trail, to the turquoise blazed Turquoise Trail (go figure!) to the unmarked Mount Tammany Fire Road to the blue blazed Blue Dot Trail to the red blazed Red Dot Trail back to the parking area. Note, you will also need to follow a short unmarked connector trail that goes between the main Dunnfield Creek/Appalachian Trail parking area and the overflow lot just to the east. If you park in the overflow lot you will use this at the beginning of the hike. If you park in the main lot, this will take you back to your car at the end of this trip.

 

Mt.Tammany

This hike is almost entirely within Worthington State Forest with the final section taking you to Mount Tammany being in the Delaware Water Gap National Recretation Area.  You can dowload a copy of the trail map which covers the entire hike here. If you parked in the main lot you will find the AT near a couple of port-a-potties at the back corner of the parking lot. If you parked in the overflow lot, you will find the unmarked connector at the far end of that lot for the short trip over to where the hike begins. It uses a set of stairs to go first uphill and then downhill on another set of stairs to the main lot. Wherever you parked, this hike begins by following the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail where the trail enters the woods at the far end of the main parking lot.

The Appalachian Trail enters the woods and crosses Dunnfield Creek immediately on a foot bridge. The trail then follows the creek uphill to your right. You will climb steadily with views of the creek below you. In approximately 1/2 mile, the Appalachian Trail will come to an intersection with the Dunnfield Creek Trail. The AT splits uphill to your left while the the green blazed Dunnfield Creek Trail and blue blazed Blue Dot trail follow the creek to your right. Follow the blue & green blazes.   Turn right to cross back over Dunnfield Creek on a bridge and continue to follow the green blazes. The Blue Dot Trail (which you will see later-much later) will leave uphill to the right while the green blazed Dunnfield Creek Trail will go left to continue to follow the creek uphill.

For the next 3 miles just follow the green blazes as the trail follows the creek steadily uphill towards its source. This is one of the prettiest stretches of trail in New Jersey.  Along the way (about a 1/2 mile from the start of the green trail), you’ll pass an intersection with the red blazed Holly Springs Trail that connects to the Appalachian Trail. The AT is parallelling your route about 1/2 mile to your left and is nowhere near as interesting as what you’re experiencing here. 

The trail will cross Dunnfield Creek several times. This can be a challenge when the creek is running high. There is a high water bypass that is marked that you can use if this is the case. It will eliminate two crossings of the creek.  As you continue to climb, the creek will become narrower. Finally, as the trail levels off (about 2 miles in), you will cross to the west side of the creek for the last time and begin to leave the immeditate streamside area. You will see a large swamp to your right as the trail crosses first an area that can be pretty wet and then turns left and heads steeply uphill.  You will crest the ridge and head slightly downhill where you will come to two intersections in short order. First, you’ll come to the unmarked Sunfish Pond Fire Road, which will head to your right. Then, in about 100 feet, the Dunnfield Creek Trail will end at the intersection with the Appalachian Trail at the far southern end of Sunfish Pond. Take in the view here for a few minutes.

After taking time to appreciate the view in front of you, turn right onto the Appalachian Trail and follow it along the west shore of the pond. Again, this is some of the nicest hiking in the state, despite the fact that you won’t set foot on level ground. When you reach the north end of the pond keep an eye out for the intersection with the Turquoise Trail, it can be difficult to spot. Turn right on the Turquoise Trail and follow it to an elevated overlook of Sunfish Pond from the north end. This is another spot you may want to stay for a few minutes. When you’ve had enough of this view, continue on the Turquoise Trail. It will head slightly uphill though some dense woods and emerge onto the Sunfish Pond Fire Road (which you passed before near the end of the Dunnfield Creek Trail. It followed the eastern shore of Sunfish Pond to get to this point.). Turn left here. There are sparse blazes (but there are some) in this section and you will need to look carefully for the next turn, which will be to your right, in about 1/4 mile. The turquoise blazes at the point where the trail turns will be on a rock.

Turn right and follow the Turquoise Trail as it heads downhill through a thick field of low bush blueberries. In the summer, stay aware that this is an area frequented by timber rattlesnakes. The thick undergrowth obscures the trail surface in this section and you’ll likely only hear them moving through the dense vegetation. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you (isn’t that a typically Jersey thing?). The trail will head downhill to yet another crossing of Dunnfield Creek. This time you are very near the source of the creek and it is only a trickle at this point. On the other side of the creek you will head uphill, again through a thick growth of blueberry bushes before the trail levels off and ends at an intersection with the unmarked Mount Tammany Fire Road.     

Turn right and head back towards the river. This section of trail is most notable for its isolation. You’re a long way from civilization and high up on the Kittatinny Ridge. This is the “death march” part of the hike. Your covering a lot of ground without much in the way of landmarks or features. You may catch some glimpses of a view off to your left but mostly the forest is too thick to offer a good look. That will change soon. You will follow the fire road for just about 3 miles. About half way along this stretch,  you will pass a Forest Fire Service helicopter landing site. There is a large boulder along the fire road that offers a place to sit and take break and appreciate how quiet this area really is. Continue along the road until it comes to an intersection with the Blue Dot Trail where the Fire Road ends.

Head straight onto the blue blazed Blue Dot Trail.  Now you will begin to get views off to the left, first of the valley below and the NJ Highlands beyond and then of the Delaware River flowing off to the south. Now the money shot! We saved the best for last on this hike, and that’s a high bar because you’ve seen some pretty nice scenery up until now. The Blue Dot trail turns to the right and ends at the Mount Tammany overlook of the Delaware Water Gap.  Climb down to one of the rock overlooks. Depending upon when you’re here, this spot will have plenty of other people taking in this same view. Stay as long as you like. When you’ve had enough, head back uphill to find the Red Dot Trail that begins where the Blue Dot Trail ends.

Turn left and follow the red blazes. The trail will first go through some ups and downs but eventually will head steeply downhill.  You’ll notice a change in the “feel” of the air (especially in the summertime) as you lose elevation and the sounds of the highway will grow. Pay careful attention to the blazes as the trail will takes some twists and turns on its route back down towards the highway. What may seem like the route of the trail may not be and at this point of the hike, you don’t want to backtrack uphill to rejoin the correct path.

The hike down can be tough because you won’t take a step on level ground. It will seem like an endless series of stepping from rock to rock.  It’s 1.5 miles down from the top and going down a trail like this can be surprisingly taxing. The Red Dot Trail will eventually split at a “y” near the bottom of the mountain. If you parked in the main lot, turn right, if you parked in the overflow lot, turn left and head back to your car. In either direction a series of steps on the unmarked connector I mentioned at the beginning will take you to the parking lot.

This is a great hike. You need to be up to it and prepared, but it is rewarding. The terrain, the views, the isolation, the wildlife is all there for you to experience. This is why you head into the woods. If there is any drawback to this hike, it’s that this can be a VERY popular spot in good weather.  You can’t blame people for wanting to be here. Parking can be an issue, there will be a lot of people at the beginning of the hike along Dunnfield Creek (many swimming in the creek) and Sunfish Pond can even have a lot of people picnicking along the shores. However, once you turn onto the Turquoise Trail, you likely won’t see another person until you reach the Mount Tammany overlook. It’s hard to argue with anyone who calls this the best hike in the state. It’s at the top of my list and you should add it to your New Jersey hiking “bucket list”.  

Norwottuck Rail Trail

Old Rail Bridge Connecticut River

We’ll leave New Jersey for an interesting hike in western Massachusetts. I like challenging hikes. This isn’t one of them. However, I do highly recommend this stroll along an old rail bed in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. While taking a tour of the small colleges of New England with my wife and my youngest son we found ourselves parked for a couple of days in Amherst, Massachusetts.  After 3 straight days of driving hundreds of miles, mind-numbing information sessions and bad hotel beds we finally spent two nights in the same place. Desperate to get some exercise, we asked the clerk at the front desk for an idea of where we could go for  a hike.  He directed us to the Norwottuck Rail Trail that ran behind the shopping malls just across Route 9 from where we were staying. A hike behind some shopping malls didn’t sound very appealing but hey, we’re from New Jersey. I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised.

A map of the trail is available online at this link and shows all of the access points, including the one behind the “store that shall not be named” in the Mountain Farms Mall in Hadley. This trail follows the route of the former Norwottuck Branch of the Massachusetts Central Railroad. The abandoned right-of-way was converted to a multi-use trail by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation. The trail begins at Warren Wright Road in Belchertown, just southeast of Amherst where the Norwttuck Branch diverged from the still active rail line of the New England Central Railroad.   It runs into the Town of Amherst where the trail turns west to pass through Hadley, across the Connecticut River and into the Town of Northampton, where it ends at the point where it connected to the still active Connecticut River line. The full route is just under 11 miles.

The entire length of the trail has been paved and is marked for two-way traffic to accomodate bikers. There are benches, historical markers and mileage signs along the way. The former railroad infrastructure has been incorporated into the trail as bridges and underpasses have been converted for trail use and there are very few at-grade crossings of roads. The trail skirts the campus of Amherst College, passes through some very lovely farmland and offers some nice views of the peaks of the Seven Sisters off to your south. The trail also features a spectacular crossing of the Connecticut River on the old railroad bridge into Northampton. The route is flat, you can’t get lost and because it is easy walking, you can cover a lot of territory. Your walking pace will probably be just under 4 miles per hour.

Directions

There are a number of parking areas where you can access the rail trail. The walk described here began at the parking lot behind the Mountain Farms Mall on Route 9 in Hadley. There is a trailhead and plenty of parking there. Park behind Wal-Mart and you can then choose which direction you’d prefer to hike-east towards Amherst or west towards Northampton. Either town makes a great destination.   Amherst is home to Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts. Northampton is home to Smith College. Both towns have great downtowns featuring restaurants, brew pubs and shopping. We had a very nice meal and a couple of local beers at the Toasted Owl in Northampton, but there are plenty of other great places to choose from.  I don’t know if the walk back was easier or harder after the pit stop, but we really enjoyed the experience.

See More Pictures From This Hike On The Photographs Page

The Hike

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Hadley across the highway from the regional headquarters of the National Fish & Wildlife Service.  Starting from this location (the parking area behind Mountain Farms Mall) this is an out-and-back walk. I’m going to describe the walk to Northampton. You don’t have to limit yourself. You can comfortably go in either direction from Hadley. If you head west, it’s 4.3 miles one-way to the end of the trail in Northampton (and another mile along a paved hiking/biking trail to the center of town). Headed east, its 3.5 miles to the Fort River parking area outside of Amherst (it’s just under three miles to Amherst College), 4.9 miles to Lawrence Station and 6.4 miles to the end of the trail in Belchertown.  Biking the entire route in both directions could easily be completed in an afternoon-if walking is not your preference. This trail was designed for both uses.

Headed west from Hadley, the trail is never far from busy Route 9, although the hike is quite peaceful.  Looking off to the south, the peaks of Bare Mountain, Mount Norwottuck (where we would hike the next day) and Mount Hitchcock are clearly visible. The trail passes underneath the highway as it crosses from the south side of the road headed towards Northampton. As you get close to the Connecticut River the trail is surrounded by large agricultural fields that take advantage of the prime river valley soils. Finally the trail crosses over  the Connecticut River on an open truss steel bridge. It offers great views up and down the river and the surface has been planked over so it shouldn’t bother even the most acrophobic amongst us.

After crossing the river, the trail passes under Interstate Route 91 and ends at a junction with a bike trail that leads into downtown Northampton. The trail reaches this intersection by passing under the active Amtrak Connecticut River line through a newly constructed pedestrian/bike tunnel under the tracks. You can turn around and head back from this point or add another mile to your walk by turning left on the paved multi-use trail when you come out of the tunnel and head into the center of Northampton. I’d highly recommend going the extra mile. There’s a great downtown with lots of good restaurants. It’s the perfect pit stop to grab a sandwich and a beer and peruse some of the shops before re-tracing your steps back to where you started.   The out-and-back without stopping (except to take in some of the views) would take just over two hours. So, if you’ve got the time, it’s worth extending the trip.

This is a beautiful area of Massachusetts. Amherst, UMass, Smith College, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire College are all within minutes of Hadley. (No, these schools ARE NOT represented by the five characters in the Scooby Doo cartoons!) So if you’re visiting any of these fine academic institutions, ditch the campus tour and head out onto the Norwottuck Trail for some exercise. I had been to Hadley before to visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife headquarters for business and really didn’t get much of a chance to look around, save for a quick sidetrip to Mount Sugarloaf State Park in nearby Deerfield (some amazing views). However, it wasn’t until we were making the rounds of possible college destinations for our youngest son that we had the chance to stay and enjoy what the region had to offer. So, while he was overnighting it at Amherst, Jacki and I took to the outdoors. If the college search brings you to the area, I recommend you do the same. You’re not the one going to school, you’re just paying the bill. Besides, a room at the Holiday Inn Express and some free entertainment are probably the best you will be able to manage for the next four years, you might as well get used to it.

parasol   view

Old Coal Road/Lake Waywayanda

As much as I love the hike up to Terrace Pond, you’ve got to have some variety to keep things interesting. So, here’s a hike that starts from the same place as the Terrace Pond hike but heads in the opposite direction. The day I made this hike the parking area was full and cars lined Clinton Road. That’s about what you would expect on a beautiful mid-July Sunday. However, by heading west from the parking area while everyone else was headed east up to the pond, we didn’t see another person for the entire hike. Well, that’s not quite true. We did see some folks in boats on Lake Waywayanda fishing, but no other hikers. We did also come across several bears but they don’t count.

This hike will take you into some of the most remote parts of Waywayanda State Park far from the day-use area that attracts swimmers and picnickers during the summer. There is a fair amount of elevation gain over the course of the hike but no steep or strenuous climbs. You will follow a combination of old woods roads and traditional hiking trails. The trails are (for the most part) well maintained. A lot of this hike is on old roads and navigation shouldn’t be an issue. Even though you will reach some higher terrain on this hike, there really aren’t the long spectacular views that many other hikes in this region feature. In the summertime, I can almost guarentee that you will see one or more bears along the route.

waywanda-west-1You will be following the red-blazed Old Coal Road, the green-blazed Turkey Ridge Trail, the green blazed Pines Trail, the purple blazed Tombstone Trail, back to the Turkey Ridge Trail, to the Cabin Trail, to the orange blazed Pump House Trail, to the orange blazed South End Trail, to the barely blazed Sitting Bear Trail to the Laurel Pond Trail to the black and white blazed Cherry Ridge Trail, back to Old Coal Road.  You can download a copy of the Waywayanda trail map here. While the trails are easy to follow, they are not consistently blazed. The Tombstone Trail does not appear on some maps (but trust me, it’s there). Some of the trails are not blazed at all. Just keep your keep your bearings and carry a map and you won’t have any issues.

Directions

To get to this hike, you will be headed to the same starting point as the Terrace Pond hike.  On prime hiking days this area will be very crowded and you may need to park along Clinton Road instead of in the designated lot. The trail head is located on Clinton Road in West Milford. Take NJ Route 23 North, through Newfoundland and exit right onto Clinton Road. Go north approximately 6 1/2 miles. Parking will be on the left. A large green sign that says “Wildcat Mountain Wilderness Site-Project U.S.E.” is adjacent to the parking area. Alternatively, you can take NJ County Route 511 North (Greenwood Lake Tpk.) to Greenwood Lake. At the traffic light where 511 turns right onto Lakeside Road continue straight ahead onto Warwick Tpk. Follow Warwick Tpk. approximately 2.5 miles to the intersection with Clinton Road. (Lake Wakover will be on your left) Turn left onto Clinton Road and travel south approximately 1.7 miles. The parking area will be on your right.

See More Pictures From This Hike On The Photographs Page

The Hike

Once you find a place to park, be it in the lot or along Clinton Road, look for the sign on the west side of the road that says “Project U.S.E.” and a metal gate across a gravel road. Head around the gate (watch out for the Poison Ivy) and follow the road as it heads between two ponds. This is the Old Coal Road, and it is intermittently marked with red blazes.  After crossing between the ponds, you will enter the woods and begin climbing slightly. You will pass the Wildcat Mountain Wilderness Center on your right. The trail winds its way deeper into the woods and gradually gains elevation.  After about a mile, you will encounter several mountain bike trails that cross the road you are following.  The Old Coal Road crests a hill at this point and you will come to a junction with the green-blazed Turkey Ridge Trail.

Turn Left on the Turkey Ridge Trail as it heads into a remote area of the park. This is more of a traditional hiking trail than the old woods road you have been following to this point. You will glimpse some views through the trees along this stretch, but nothing that you would consider an overlook or scenic point.  The trail will begin to descend gradually. You will come to an intersection at an angle with the Pines Trail. Markings are scarce here. The Turkey Ridge Trail heads to your right at a sharp angle.  The Pines Trail seems like a continuation of the trail you’ve been on as it heads slightly left. Follow the Pines Trail that is intermittently marked with green blazes.  The path is unremarkable except for its feeling of isolation as you walk through dense woods. The trail will begin to climb before emerging onto a pipeline right of way with some nice views in either direction.

On the other side of the pipeline, the trail is blazed purple. You are now on the Tombstone Trail (it’s the same trail you were on). The Tombstone Trail is also marked intermittently. You will wind your way through the woods before descending to rejoin the Turkey Ridge Trail. Turn left here. In a short distance, the Turkey Ridge Trail will end at an unpaved road.  This road is designated as the Cabin Trail. Turn right and follow this road to an intersection with another unpaved road which is designated as the Cherry Ridge Trail. Eventually you will be on this trail, but not yet.  Straight ahead you’ll see the orange blazes of the Pump House Trail. Follow this trail. In about 1/2 mile you will come to an intersection with the South End Trail-also blazed orange. Turn right onto the South End Trail.  True to its name, it will take you to the south end of Lake Waywayanda.  Along the way you will pass over several outflows from the lake and walk through some dense rhododendon groves. This is a very pretty stretch of trail.

The South End Trail will take you to several points along the lake’s shore before turning right and climbing away from the water. The South End Trail will end at an intersection with the Sitting Bear Trail. Turn right at the intersection with this trail and continue to head modestly uphill.  Again, blazes are intermittent at best. In a short distance this trail will end at an intersection with the Laurel Pond Trail which follows an old woods road. Turn right at this intersection and head downhill. In a very short distance you will come to an intersection with the Cherry Ridge Trail that you passed earlier in the hike.

Turn left and follow the old woods road that is designated as the Cherry Ridge Trail. It is very easy to follow. There are only very intermittent blazes to remind you that you are on the trail. It will descend first to a stream crossing and then begin to climb. You will pass the end of the Two Bridges Trail which will be on your left. The Cherry Ridge Trail will continue to climb and turn to your right before reaching an intersection with another woods road. Straight in front of you is the Old Coal Trail you began the hike on. The Cherry Ridge Trail heads off to the left.   Go straight ahead onto the Old Coal Trail. You will follow this trail nearly three miles back to the parking area where this hike began.  This can be a tough stretch as you will probably be a little tired and there’s not much to see, other than enjoying a walk through some deep woods.

This is an off-the-beaten-path hike that will bring you to some very pretty spots. You will really get a sense of being deep in the woods as well. It’s a long hike-around 7 miles-but there aren’t any really challenging climbs along the way. There’s a lot of up-and-down on these trails so don’t get the impression that you’re going to be on a level hike. The nicest views are of the lake, along the pipeline right-of-way and in the rhododendron groves.  It is a challenge, but primarily due to the length. However, it is well worth the effort.