Sunday, September 25, 2011

South Mountain Reservation, NJ: Locust Grove to Mayapple Hill

South Mountain Reservation - Essex County Parks
South Mountain Conservancy
The Lenape Trail
Click for Millburn, New Jersey Forecast

GPS Coordinates 40.727503, -74.304261

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This parking lot is right behind Millburn trail station so this hike can be done by taking the train.

South Mountain Reservation Trail Map - Essex County Parks
Purchase a laminated color map from the South Mountain Conservancy

Locust Grove to Mayapple Hill Loop:  11.3 miles
Locust Grove to Oakdale Loop: 10.3 miles
Locust Grove to Hemlock Falls Loop:  5 miles (click here for NY/NJ Trail Conference version)

Mayapple Hill -

The hike begins on the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail.  Follow this trail for 6 miles all the way to Mayapple Hill.
The yellow-blazed Lenape Trail climbs up to paved Crest Drive and continues to the left of the kiosk ahead.
Revolutionary memorial to the right of the kiosk.
Overlook at Washington Rock - view obstructed by foliage
View of Watchung Reservation from Washington Rock
The Lenape Trail continues down the steps from the viewing deck.
The Lenape Trail now enters the woods for a long stretch.
Remnants of a 1908 picnic shelter at Ball's Bluff.
Hemlock Falls
Footbridge over South Orange Avenue
Yellow and orange trails merge briefly through an attractive pine forest.
You will pass through a picnic area after which the yellow blazes of the Lenape Trail are confusing and often missing.  Here is how to stay on the trail:
Walk straight through the picnic area towards a grove of trees with a field on either side.  Stay to the right of the grove of trees.  The trail will go inside the grove and come out at the other end.  There are some blazes but they pretty much stop in the open field.
After coming out of the grove of trees, veer left towards the traffic intersection.  There is no defined path through the field.  Cross Cherry Lane almost at the intersection, just to the left of the trees, and continue across a field.  There are no blazes at all in this area.
Stay to the left of the guardrail which is the end of Valley View Drive (no traffic).
Around the other side of the guardrail the yellow blazes start again and the trail turns right just behind the Oakdale sign.  This can be hard to see if it is overgrown.
The trail will go through a neat tunnel where foliage has formed a canopy overhead.
"The Crag" with limited views.
A footbridge over Northfield Avenue.
The Lenape Trail ends at Mayapple Hill - it should pick up again but I do not know where unless that connector section is not complete yet.  Across the field is a picnic area, convenient or taking a break before heading back.
Retrace on the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, cross the footbridge, then turn left on an unmarked trail where you will start seeing red blazes.  Follow the red blazes to the right into the woods after the Oakdale sign post which you will approach from behind.
Oakdale sign post of the red blazed trail looking back the way you came.  The red-blazed Oakdale Trail will meet back up wtih the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. 
The white-blazed Rahway Trail.
Rock hop over the Rahway River.
Some fall color on the Rahway Trail.
Cross back over the Rahway River on a bridge.
Rahway River

[  0.00]  Take the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail at the far right corner of the parking lot
[  0.30]  Trail levels out at concrete tank before ascending again
[  0.50]  Left on paved Crest Drive then keep left at fork
[  0.65]  Leave Crest Drive to left just before kiosk; revolutionary memorial to right of kiosk
[  0.70]  Washington Rock overlook on left; yellow trail continues down steps
[  1.40]  Left at fork when unmarked goes straight
[  3.15]  Yellow makes sharp right turn then forks, keep left at fork when red/white goes right
[  3.25]  Hemlock Falls; cross bridge then trail turns left when stairs go straight; at T intersection turn left
[  3.55]  Yellow goes right at Rahway Trail
             *** take white-blazed Rahway Trail for 5 mile hike; continue from 9.05 below ***
[  3.60]  At fork keep left when straight goes to parking lot
[  3.70]  Cross footbridge over South Orange Avenue; trail now orange/yellow although yellow seems to leave randomly - stay on orange when this happens as they come back together
[  3.95]  Keep straight on yellow when orange leaves to the right; cross through parking lot then cross creek on bridge; veer left after bridge, go through picnic area on gravel road then stay to right of tree grove - blazes start to become confusing and/or are missing
[  4.35]  Come out at other end of grove of trees into field and veer left towards traffic intersection, cross Cherry Lane almost at intersection, enter field to left of row of trees, keep to the left of the guardrail ahead
[  4.50]  Turn right behind Oakdale sign post on yellow trail; keep straight on yellow when red comes in from right (return route)
[  5.50]  Yellow trail goes through tree tunnel; "The Crag" shelter on the right
[  5.70]  Watch for trail going to the right just before footbridge - this will be return route; cross footbridge
             *** turn right on unmarked for 10.3 mile hike; continue from 6.65 below ***
[  6.00]  Yellow-blazed Lenape Trail ends at traffic island; continue straight through field to picnic area on Mayapple Hill; retrace
[  6.20]  Back on yellow-blazed Lenape Trail after traffic island
[  6.65]  Cross footbridge over Northfield Avenue then turn left on unmarked
[  6.80]  Turn right on red-blazed trail at Oakdale sign post
[  7.00]  Watch for trail to veer to the right away from the road - unmarked, blaze on back of tree
[  8.00]  Red ends at yellow, left on yellow-blazed Lenape Trail; come out on field, veer left through field
[  8.15]  Cross over Cherry Lane to the right of line of trees almost at intersection; veer left across field to grove of trees between two fields where trail enters grove
[  8.35]  Exit grove and cross field towards picnic area
[  8.60]  Proceed through picnic area; cross bridge; continue through parking lot then pine grove with orange and yellow blazes
[  8.75]  Cross footbridge over South Orange Avenue
[  8.95]  When yellow goes left, turn right on white-blazed Rahway Trail
[  9.05]  Rock hop across Rahway River, turn left on trail through overgrown section
[  9.55]  Left on gravel road
[  9.65]  Cross stone bridge, turn right immediately after bridge at double white blazes before reaching the woods road
[10.95]  At an unmarked fork, keep left
[11.30]  Back at parking lot

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hudson Highlands State Park, NY: Wilkinson Trail to Sugarloaf Mountain, South Beacon, Sunset Point

Hudson Highlands State Park - New York State Parks
Click for Beacon, New York Forecast

GPS Coordinates 41.448049, -73.980461

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A few pullout spots at the Wilkinson trailhead on the right side heading north on Route 9D; also a few on the opposite side.
Later in the day expect cars to be lined up all along Route 9D because of the very popular Breakneck Ridge hike.
North Hudson Highlands State Park - New York State Parks
East Hudson Trail Map #102 - NY/NJ Trail Conference

Sugarloaf Mountain - South Beacon Mountain - Sunset Point: 8.75 miles
Sugarloaf Mountain - Sunset Point: 7.15 miles
Sugarloaf Mountain Loop: 6 miles (click here for NY/NJ Trail Conference description)

Sugarloaf Mountain -
South Beacon Mountain -

Yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail arrives at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in 1 mile.
The gnarly dead tree on top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Breakneck Ridge from Sugarloaf Mountain
Storm King Mountain from Sugarloaf Mountain
Bannerman Castle from Suglarloaf Mountain
Bannerman Castle
View of Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, Shawangunks and the Catskills
South Beacon Mountain
Taking a break.
The blue-blazed Notch Trail joins the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail.
At the 3.95 mile point you have a choice of either staying on the yellow-blazed trail, or turning left on the white-blazed trail.  Either way, you will end up back in the same place after looping over South Beacon Mountain.  The difference is the white trail involves a steep rock scramble where the yellow trail does not.  I prefer to go up steep sections so this hike goes up the white trail.
The fire tower on top of South Beacon Mountain.
View of New York City skyline to the south from South Beacon Mountain
Overlook deck at Sunset Point.
View from Sunset Point
Watch for red arrows painted on rocks for turn to descend Breakneck Ridge.
Sugarloaf Mountain from the red-blazed Breakneck Bypass Trail.
Some early fall leaves and flowers along the way:

[  0.00] Take the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail at the trailhead on the east side of Route 9D
[  0.60]  Left on yellow when red goes right (red will be return route)
[  1.00]  Views at gnarly dead tree on top of Sugarloaf Mountain
[  1.40]  Veer left staying on yellow when unmarked trail crossed over diagonally
[  1.95]  Cross brook to left
[  2.60]  Scenic overlook
[  2.80]  At intersection with cairn, turn left on yellow/blue when blue goes right
                   *** turn right on blue here for 6 mile hike ***
[  3.45]  Cross stream then turn right on yellow when blue leaves to the left
[  3.85]  Keep left on white/yellow when white joins in from the left and unmarked goes straight
                  *** turn right on white here for 7.15 mile hike ***
[  3.95]  Left on white when yellow goes straight
[  4.25]  South Beacon Fire Tower
[  4.55]  White ends at intersection, turn right on red-blazed trail
[  4.60]  Turn right on unmarked woods road which will lead into yellow trail
[  5.20]  Keep straight on yellow when white goes right
[  5.30]  Turn left on white when yellow turns right
[  5.55]  Cross woods road
[  5.70]  Overlook deck at Sunset Point
[  5.95]  Cross small creek then turn right at intersection on white/blue
[  7.00]  Keep straight on white when blue goes left
[  7.35]  Turn right on red at red arrows painted on rocks when white goes straight
[  8.15]  Turn left on yellow when red ends
[  8.75]  Back at car