ABOUT THE PARK:
Farny State Park - NY/NJ Trail Conference Description
Splitrock Reservoir - Wikipedia
From the Rockaway Township Web Site:
Splitrock Reservoir – The reservoir and surrounding land is owned by the City of Jersey City and the public may access the water body for fishing and kayaking only from the public access parking area located near the dam. Only Car top watercraft is permitted providing it is launched from the access located at the parking area. Gas powered motors are not permitted. Shoreline fishing is not permitted. Hiking is allowed only on the specific marked trails – other access will be considered trespass and violators will be subject to fine.TRAIL MAP:
NY/NJ Trail Conference Online Map (north, south and middle sections of the Four Birds Trail)
South and middle maps merged to fit this hike on one page:
I-287 to exit 43 to north on Fanny Road to Powerville Road, left on Valley Road, eight on Rockaway Valley Road, left on Split Rock Road which turns to gravel, parking lot on right at Reservoir.
The parking lot holds about 25 cars and I got the last spot at 7:15 am on a Saturday so get there early, mostly people there for fishing and kayaking. Do not park along the road. At the end of the hike every single car I passed that was parked along Split Rock Road had been ticketed and the area was being actively patrolled.
HIKE DISTANCE: 10.5 miles if you can manage to follow the trail - my hike ended up being 9 hours and 14 miles due to backtracking because of poorly marked trails.
From the parking lot, turn left and walk along Split Rock Road for about .3 miles. At the second power cut, start looking for the blue blaze on a tree to the left going into the woods. The trail is somewhat obstructed by weeds so you will probably miss it if you aren't looking for the blaze on the tree.
For the first couple of miles the blazing is pretty good. Then it gets spotty. You will find clearly marked blazes in two different shades of blue:
Faded out blazes which are very hard to see:
Blazes which have fallen to the ground or no blazes at all:
Another problem was a blaze indicating a turn but no discernible trail to turn on to. After the 4th time of backtracking, going in circles and not being able to find the continuation of the trail, in sheer frustration I cut through the woods towards the reservoir and continued north on Charlottsburg Road which is a dirt road closed to traffic, mostly running along the reservoir.
Along this stretch there were some nice views of the reservoir but you had to overlook the broken glass and empty beer cans all along the shore.
I tried to pick up the blue-blazed trail again when it met up with Charlottsburg Road where the McMansions start appearing to the right only to end up in somebody's back yard so I went back and stayed on Charlottsburg Road. There were some faint white blazes and although it was not the right place to run into the white-blazed Four Birds Trail, I followed them only to find the trail terminated at the reservoir.
Continued north along Charlottsburg Road where it becomes a dumping ground for tires, car seats, floor tiles and other assorted garbage until I started noticing orange diamond blazes to the left. I have not seen this trail on maps but really not wanting to hook back up with the blue-blazed trail, I followed to find this trail to be very well-blazed.
The orange-blazed trail terminates right at the white-blazed Four Birds Trail where you turn left.
The white-blazed trail is much better marked than the blue trail. There are a few questionable spots but not near as bad. Others I ran into who hike/run there frequently say they avoid the blue-blazed trail on the east side of the reservoir because it is so difficult to follow. This trail follows along the reservoir for 1 1/2 miles.
Follow the white-blazed trail until it goes downhill steeply to Split Rock Road.
Turn left on Split Rock Road.
Cross the bridge at the dam back to the parking lot on the left just beyond the dam.
To do this hike my recommendation would be to start on the blue-blazed trail but as soon as you start having problems, head on over towards the reservoir to Charlottsburg Road. Don't keep trying and get frustrated like I did - that takes all of the fun out of hiking.