Sunday, May 15, 2011

Allamuchy Mountain State Park North, NJ - Cranberry Lake/Highlands Trail Loop

ABOUT THE PARK:  Allamuchy Mountain State Park - Village of Allamuchy

GPS coordinates 40.955553, -74.736748

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Heading north on Route 206 makes for a very awkward left turn into the parking lot.  A better approach might be to continue just past the parking lot, turn left on North Shore Road, use the gravel pull-out on the right to make a U-turn, turn right on Route 206, then use the right exit lane to smoothly enter the Cranberry Lake park and ride area. 
Park & Ride Lot between Route 206 and Cranberry Lake

Jersey Highlands Trails, Trail Map 126 - NY/NJ Trail Conference
Allamuchy Mountain State Park - North - JORBA

HIKE DISTANCE:  9.8 miles

Although it does not look like it, the Sussex Branch Trail (a rail trail) goes right through the parking lot between Route 206 and Cranberry lake.  Facing the lake, turn left and walk beyond the barrier at the end of the parking lot.
Continue through the gravel lot of the Cranberry Lake Community Club passing the foot bridge on the right.
At the far end of this parking lot, the trail will become more defined and follow along Cranberry Lake.
The trail crosses a dam, turns left, crosses a paved road then the gravel overflow boat trailer parking lot before "officially" entering Allamuchy Mountain State Park as the Sussex Branch Trail .6 mile into the hike.  (The overflow boat trailer parking lot can also be used for this hike.)
Follow the rail trail about another half mile, then turn right on the blue-blazed Iron Mine Trail just after crossing a bridge.

A short, 1/10ths of a mile unmarked trail connects over to the red-blazed trail.
The red-blazed trail joins up with the more rugged and strenuous teal-blazed Highlands Trail which leads to a rock outcrop overlook with views 4 miles into the hike.

The loop completes by following yellow to white to green then a short section of the Sussex Branch Trail back to the parking lot.

The green trail, named the Waving Willie Trail after a man who waved at commuters on Route 206 for 40 years, terminates behind his house at the Sussex Branch Trail.  Click here for the Weird NJ story of Waving Willie.
Waving Willie sat in front of the white house in the background waving at traffic on Route 206.
Turn right on the Sussex Branch Trail which will run parallel to Route 206 a short distance back to the parking lot.

[  0.00]  Facing Cranberry Lake, turn left and proceed through parking lot, wooden barrier, gravel Cranberry Lake Club parking lot, continue along Cranberry Lake
[  0.35]  Cross dam
[  0.40]  Trail turns left as mowed grass trail
[  0.45]  Cross paved road at Overflow Boat Trailer Parking sign staying on gravel road
[  0.60]  Cross barrier at far end of the overflow boat trailer parking lot; keep straight on Sussex Branch Railtrail
[  1.05]  Immediately after crossing bridge, turn right on the blue-blazed Iron Mine Trail
[  1.35]  At rusty wood chipper, keep straight when unmarked comes in from right (unmarked trail not on map)
[  1.40]  Blue trail turns sharply to left when unmarked comes in from right (unmarked trail not on map)
[  1.50]  Blue trail turns right when unmarked goes straight
[  1.80]  After switchbacks blue trail turns left when unmarked comes in from right, trail straightens out
[  1.90]  Turn right on blue trail when unmarked goes left
[  2.05]  After trail snakes briefly, turn right on unmarked trail at T intersection when blue goes right (shown on map but not as a T intersection)
[  2.10]  Turn left on red-blazed trail when unmarked ends at the red trail
[  2.50]  Teal-blazed Highlands Trail merges in from the left, after 10 steps, turn right on the teal-blazed trail leaving red trail
[  3.10]  Teal trail turns left merging with other side of red loop trail
[  3.20]  Turn right on teal trail leaving the red trail
[  3.25]  Straight on teal as it crosses over yellow/white trail
[  3.90]  Straight on teal as it crosses over yellow trail
[  4.10]  Straight on teal to overlook as unmarked comes in from right; after overlook retrace and turn left on unmarked when teal goes right
[  4.30]  Unmarked trail ends at bend of yellow trail; keep straight/left on yellow trail
[  5.00]  Right on yellow when unmarked comes in from the left
[  5.30]  Left on white when yellow/white goes right
[  5.40]  Left on white when unmarked goes right, shortly thereafter unmarked comes in from left
[  5.50]  Keep right on white when unmarked goes left
[  5.65]  Keep straight on white when unmarked goes left
[  5.85]  Keep left on white at fork when unmarked goes right
[  5.90]  Cross wooden bridge
[  5.95]  Left at fork on white when unmarked goes right
[  6.45]  Left on what as unmarked comes in from right
[  6.60]  Shortly after crossing smooth rock section, right on white when unmarked (with old white circle blaze on tree) comes in from left
[  6.70]  Keep right on white when unmarked trail goes left marked with "Ice Cream Trail" sign
[  6.85]  Keep straight on right when unmarked comes in from right
[  7.00]  At intersection where many trails come together, green goes right but head straight towards tree with white blazes turning left AND green blazes turning right, follow these green blazes to the right
[  7.20]  At the next multi-trail intersection, keep straight turning right on the second to last trail on the right (green marker hard to see from intersection but it is a short distance ahead on tree on left)
[  7.70]  Keep left on green when unmarked goes right; at top of hill keep right on green when unmarked comes in from left
[  7.85]  Keep straight on green when crossing unmarked trail
[  8.60]  Keep left on green when unmarked comes in from right (unmarked trail not on map)
[  8.80]  Keep right on green when umarked comes in from left (trail not well defined at intersection)
[  8.95]  Keep straight on green trail over smooth rock section; at unmarked fork keep left (not on map); at next fork either right over rocks or left around rocks
[  9.10]  Trails merge back together and green markers continue
[  9.55]  Green trail ends as Sussex Branch railtrail; turn right on Sussex Branch trail
[  9.75]  Cross North Shore Road
[  9.80]  Arrive at parking lot


  1. I saw this blog and I decided that my boyfriend and pooch would try this, even though it is over a year old. I am always trying to find new areas to explore and have recently been walking the Sussex Branch by Cranberry Lake. When I saw this I knew it would be a great opportunity to get off the Sussex Branch and get out on the other trails. The directions were extremely easy to follow! My only suggestion is to be extra aware of the second intersection (( 7.20))... We missed it, but it could have been exhaustion. :P There is a downed tree to your left with the Green blaze. That is where you turn, and you will see the hard to see marker that was mentioned.

    Thanks for an extremely enjoyable hike! And great directions!!