Sunday, May 30, 2010

Black River County Park (Morris County, NJ)

The Black River County Park consists of trails (mainly the Patriot's Path) connecting 4 cultural sites and Chubb Park:
Please note that while dogs are not allowed at any of the cultural sites, leashed dogs are allowed on the hiking trails so our hike bypassed all of the cultural sites except Cooper Gristmill where we parked but the sign in the parking lot does say leashed dogs are allowed, I would assume for getting to the trailhead. The printed park map does say leashed pets are allowed.

Morris County Parks Black River Trail Map
I stopped by and picked up my map from the parking lot kiosk at Cooper Gristmill over the winter when I was in the area doing another hike. Today there were no maps so be sure to print one out.

Morris County NJ Park Commission Web Site Directions
Looking at the map, you will see many other parking options. When I arrived at Cooper Gristmill the parking lot entrance was still chained but there is paved roadside parking along Route 513 in front of the parking lot, which is where I parked.

I hiked 12 miles total out and back but you are able to hike any distance you would like.
6.4 mile NY/NJ Trail Conference version
14.8 mile NJ Hiking version

My hike was blue-blazed Black River Trail to red-blazed Conifer Pass Trail to blue-blazed Bamboo Brook trail to just beyond where the trail stops following the brook, then turned around and headed back. On the way back we explored an unmarked trail and the green-blazed trail. Returning to Cooper Mill we went through the tunnel to head north on the blue-blazed Black River Trail to Chubb Park and back.

Descend the stairs from behind the stone gristmill to head south on the blue-blazed Black River Trail.

Kay's Pond:

Red-Blazed Conifer Pass Trail (beautiful hike down into the river gorge): (The NY/NJ Trail Conference mentions obtaining a pass at Kay Environmental Center to hike this trail. I could not do that since I could not take my dog there to get a pass, I did not see any signs saying a pass was needed and this is not mentioned on the park website or on the map so the pass requirement information might be outdated.)

Blue-Blazed Bamboo Brook Trail:

Unmarked trail at north end of red-blazed Conifer Pass Trail:

Green-blazed Trail:

Blue-Blazed Black River Trail north of Cooper Mill to Chubb Park:

Other than a piece of ribbon and part of a candy wrapper, picked up nicotine gum somebody must have dropped accidentally. Very clean trails!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Harriman State Park, NY via Kakiak County Park, NY

Harriman State Park
Kakiak County Park

TRAIL MAP: NY/NJ Trail Conference Harriman Bear Mountain Trail Map #118

PARKING DIRECTIONS: US 202 north of Suffern, NY

DISTANCE: 13 miles (many shorter options possible)

As you pull into Kakiak County park you will notice a gate blocking off the road to the left. This is the road you will walk after parking to access the trail heads.

Walk over the bridge and straight ahead to the orange-blazed Mountain trail:

At .6 miles take a short unmarked trail to the right to a scenic overlook:

Backtrack and continue on the orange-blazed trail.

At 1.5 miles turn left on the white-blazed trail.

At 3.2 miles turn left on the black dot on white-blazed trail.

At 4 miles turn left on the orange-blazed trail. I went to the first overlook, which was disappointing as the scenery is marred by huge buildings and power facilities (I am guessing that is what all of that is...)

Backtrack and turn left on the the black dot on white-blazed trail at 4.7 miles.
View from the black dot trail: (It was a hazy morning so the pictures are not the best.)

At 5.4 miles turn right on the blue-blazed trail. There is a very steep and long rock scramble section on this trail that my dog had some difficulty with but I managed to get her up. After that point, great panoramic views.

At 6.8 miles the orange-blazed trail joins the blue-blazed trail briefly but I only saw orange blazes, which was confusing. Do stay straight anyway and the orange trail will veer off shortly and you will still be on the blue trail.

At 7.4 miles turn right on the white trail.

At 7.7 miles turn left on the black trail.

At 8.2 miles turn left on the yellow trail.

At 8.3 miles turn right on an unmarked woods road.

You will be able to see Pine Meadow Lake

At 8.6 miles keep to the left at the fork in the woods road.

You will start to notice old concrete foundations to the right. Shortly past that there will be a stone wall with a cairn on the top close to the woods road. Turn right on that unmarked trail at 8.8 miles. Initially, the trail will be quite ugly and you have to walk along rusty old pipes:

Eventually you do leave those awful pipes behind and the trail becomes quite pretty with views of the lake.

At 9.4 miles turn right on the white-blazed trail.

At 9.9 miles turn right on the yellow-blazed trail.

Along the yellow-blazed trail you will be able to see the New York City skyline:

At 11.2 miles turn left on the white-blazed trail.

This will take you back through Kakiak County park to the parking lot at 13 miles.

LITTER REPORT: Not too bad except for tons of white tissues scattered all along the trails which I simply will not pick up. (YUK!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ramapo Mountain State Forest, NJ

ABOUT THE PARK: NJ Division of Parks and Forestry / Van Slyke Castle

NY/NJ Trail Conference North Jersey Trails Map 115 / no maps at park
Online brochure from the NY/NY Trail Conference

PARKING DIRECTIONS: I-287 to exit 57; north on Skyline Drive briefly; turn left into parking lot.

DISTANCE: 7.5, 10 or 12 miles

I started to hike here several years ago and it was so crowded I left and went elsewhere. Thought I'd give it another shot. I arrived at 7 am and there were already 10 cars in the lot that holds about 30 cars. (When I finished at 1:30, the lot was full and cars were hovering waiting for spots to open up.) The blue trail leads from the parking lot to Ramapo Lake and it was already Grand Central Station at 7 am. But rest assured, once you reach the lake and head out on hiking trails, you do leave all of that behind. Only ran into a handful of mountain bikers on the trails. The busiest part of the park is the lake and the blue trail from the parking lot to the lake.

Trails are well-marked, intersections are not so watch carefully for turns.
Follow the blue-blazed trail from the parking lot.
This trail eventually joins with the yellow-blazed trail.
Stay on the blue/yellow-blazed trail.
At .6 miles turn left on the yellow-blazed trail crossing the dam.

At .8 mile turn left on the yellow/red blazed trail.

At 2.2 miles continue left on the yellow-blazed trail.
Views of Ramapo Lake from the yellow-blazed trail.

At 2.5 miles, turn right on the red-blazed Cannonball trail (white C on red circle)
At 2.75 miles, turn left on the red-blazed Indian Rock trail (white square with red triangle)
At 3 miles keep right at the fork (not marked) stepping over a log, turn right on the orange-blazed Wanaque Ridge trail a short distance ahead.
Along the Wanaque Ridge trail, views of the Wanaque Reservoir.

At 6 miles, turn right on the blue-blazed trail.
At 6.25 miles turn left on the blue-blazed/red-blazed Cannonball trail.
At 6.5 miles: For a 7.5 mile hike, stay on the blue-blazed trail for about a mile back to the parking lot, for 10 or 12 mile hikes, turn left on the red-blazed Cannonball trail briefly then left on the white-blazed Castle Point trail.

Great views of the New York City skyline, Ramapo Lake and Wanaque Reservoir just before Van Slyke Castle.

The castle ruins are very interesting and there are little side trails for wandering around and exploring but if you have a dog with you be careful - lots of broken glass on the ground.

At 7.7 miles turn right on the paved access road which is the red-blazed Cannonball trail.
The red-blazed trail leaves and rejoins the access road a few times along the way before turning right off of the road for the last time and continuing on switchbacks.
At 8.75 miles keep straight on the gravel road (not marked).
At 9 miles: For the 10 mile hike turn left on blue to arrive at parking lot in 1 mile or to continue for the 12 mile hike, turn right on the red-blazed Cannonball trail (white C on red circle) to Ramapo Lake staying on the trail (gravel road) around the lake.

At 10 miles leave the red-blazed trail turning left on an unmarked woods road. Follow this road to continue around the other side of the lake back to the dam.
At 11.2 miles, after crossing the dam, turn right on the blue/yellow blazed trail, staying on the blue-blazed trail back to the parking lot.

In addition to the random can here, water bottle there, a large amount of litter was on the grounds of the Van Slyke castle. I had a large bag with me and even though I did not want to ruin the rest of my hike lugging that much garbage around, I could not in all good conscience leave it there so it was packed out.


The total haul before being divvied up between trash and recycling: