Sunday, February 26, 2012

Musconetcong Gorge Preserve and Sweet Hollow Preserve, NJ

Musconetcong Gorge Preserve - Hunterdon County Department of Parks and Recreation
Sweet Hollow Preserve - New Jersey Natural Lands Trust
Highlands Trail Section 9 - New York/New Jersey Trail Conference

GPS Coordinates 40.627328, -75.135697

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Musconetcong Gorge Preserve - Hunterdon County Department of Parks and Recreation
A few of things to note about the map:
- The teal/yellow trail on the map is blazed teal diamond/yellow diamond/white rectangle
- White rectangle trail along Pine Run to old rail bed not shown on map

- The red trail on the map is blazed orange

- The orange trail on the map is blazed blue

- The dark blue trail on the map is blazed orange

- The light blue trail on the map (the Nature Trail) is blazed dark blue/orange

- The white diamond trail and white rectangle trail are 2 different trails plus there are some old white blazes along the rail bed

Highlands Trail Section 9 - New York/New Jersey Trail Conference  (includes Sweet Hollow portion)
Nature Trail at end of hike - Click here for interpretive brochure.

Musconetcong Gorge Preserve and Sweet Hollow Preserve - 10 miles
Musconetcong Gorge Preserve to white rectangle trail at Pine Run - 5.30 miles
Musconetcong Gorge Preserve to white square trail - 3.65 miles

The first part of the hike follows the combined teal Highlands Trail, yellow park trail, and white rectangle trail along a ridge for almost 2 miles.
Seasonal views all along the ridge trail.
The Highlands Trail follows Staats Road briefly...
... before turning on to Schaaf Road, a quite residential/farm road.
The Highlands Trail leaves Schaaf Road to follow the perimeter of a cornfield.
Looking back at the cornfield before entering the woods.
The first sign of spring - skunk cabbage.
A creek through Sweet Hollow Preserve
Another creek in Sweet Hollow Preserve
A .6 mile road walk on quiet Sweet Hollow Road to the second section of Sweet Hollow Preserve.
At the top of the hill in the second section of Sweet Hollow Perserve.
Woods road through second section of Sweet Hollow Preserve.
Farm with a view from Schaaf Road
Highlands Trail leaves Staats Road to the left behind a row of 4 mailboxes.
The white rectangle trail descends the rocky gorge next to Pine Run.
Old rail bed parallels the Musconetcong River.
Musconetcong River
Dam on the Musconetcong River.
Scout Run Waterfalls
Bridge over Scout Run
Fibermark Paper Mill seen from the Nature Trail.
If you like REAL cage-free eggs (most in the grocery store that claim to be cage-free really aren't - click here to check) watch for farmers selling eggs on your drive out.  Bring some empty cartons along - farmers will gladly reuse them.

[  0.00]  Start on the trail to the far right of the parking lot - teal/yellow/white rectangle
[  0.55]  Rock hop over creek; continue uphill to the right as blue goes left on a woods road
[  1.25]  Keep right on teal/yellow/white rectangle as white diamond goes left
              *** turn left here for 3.65 mile hike, turn left on white/orange at bottom and continue from 8.3 mile point below
[  1.90]  Keep right and rock hop over creek on yellow/teal as white rectangle leaves downhill to the left; rock hop over smaller creek
             *** turn left here for 5.3 mile hike and continue from 7.6 mile point below
[  2.50]  Right on Staats Road on teal Highlands Trail (sparse blazing along road)
[  2.60]  Left on Schaaf Road on teal Highlands Trail (sparse blazing along road)
[  3.10]  When road veers to the left, turn right on Highlands Trail towards cornfield then follow perimeter of cornfield to the right
[  3.30]  Teal Highlands Trail continues straight into woods from far end of cornfield
[  3.50]  Cross power cut; after few steps trail follows along top of stone wall to right
[  3.60]  Teal trail leaves stone wall to the left, keep straight through clearing back into woods
[  3.80]  Dilapidated building in bamboo grove to the left
[  3.85]  Rock hop over creek; at paved Sweet Hollow Road turn left and walk along road (sparse blazing along road)
[  4.45]  Almost at the top of a gradual incline, teal Highlands Trail leaves paved road to the left on woods road
[  4.70]  Old stone fireplace at top of hill
[  4.85]  Keep left on teal as it leaves woods road to the left at fork
[  5.00]  Rock hop over creek then a few steps later another creek
[  5.15]  Cross power cut
[  5.35]  Turn left on Route 579 when Highlands Trail goes right
[  5.70]  Turn left on paved Schaaf Road
[  6.40]  Meet back up with teal Highlands Trail coming in from right from cornfield
[  6.90]  Turn right on Myler (turns into Staats Road)
[  7.00]  Turn left into woods behind 4 mailboxes as Staats Road bends to the right
[  7.60]  Rock hop over smaller creek, then wider creek; turn right on white rectangle trail
[  7.70]  At bottom of descent, turn left on old rail bed
[  8.20]  Unmarked side trail to right goes down to river and dam; trail continues to meet back up with rail bed
[  8.30]  Continue to the right on old rail bed a few steps then turn left on white diamond trail; after a few steps when white diamond goes left, turn right on white diamond/orange trail
[  8.95]  At intersection with gate on the right, blue goes left on woods road uphill; take the orange trail to the right of the blue trail; when the orange trail splits at the top of a short steep section, take the right fork.
[  9.15]  Orange trail ends at waterfalls; retrace back to intersection
[  9.35]  At intersection with metal gate, turn right on blue/orange trail
[  9.40]  Cross wooden footbridge (this is #10 on the Nature Trail map)
[  9.45]  Rock hop over creek, few more steps rock hop over another creek
[  9.70]  At fork go either way
[  9.85]  Blue trail that previously forked meets back together; continue uphill
[10.00]  Back at parking lot


  1. With some luck and a whole lot of persistence, the 32 foot high dam above the old Fibremark plant will be removed. An active partnership is working with the owner to secure funding to demolish the dam. Half of the dam is owned by NJDEP and they want it gone, too. The Musconetcong Gorge is about to be beautiful once again. Contact for details.

    1. Thank you so much for that information! You site provides a great education on dams. ( As pretty as they can be, I always knew they weren't good. You do a great job of explaining exactly why.


  2. The best thing is if you go to the old dam on a really clear day and you can see the reflection of the sky and the trees on the water.