Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pequannock Watershed, NJ: Four Birds Trail and Wharton and Northern Railroad

The hike includes this newer trail (2009) which does not appear to be heavily used.

ABOUT THE PARK:
Pequannock Watershed - Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation

DIRECTIONS:
GPS Coordinates 40.997962, -74.457232

View Larger Map
Parking for 4-5 cars to the left just outside the entrance to Camp Winnebago.

IMPORTANT:
A permit is required to hike in the Pequannock Watershed.  Permits must be purchased in person at the Newark Watershed office. Click here for information on obtaining permits

TRAIL MAP:
Jersey Highlands Trail Map 125 - NY/NJ Trail Conference

HIKE DISTANCE:
Timberbrook to Four Birds to Marty Donofrio Trail to Four Birds and back - 5.35 miles
Returning via unmarked trail instead of abandoned rail bed - 9 miles
Returning via abandoned rail bed - 9.45 miles

THE HIKE:
Take the yellow-blazed Timberbrook Trail from the parking lot.
The Timberbrook Trail skirts a swamp before meeting up with the white-blazed Four Birds Trail.
The white-blazed Four Birds Trail skirts Timberbrook Pond.
Things get confusing at the end of Timberbrook Pond where the trail diverts around a creek feeding into the pond as it merges with woods roads and an abandoned rail bed and blazes seem to be missing.  This picture is looking back after crossing the washed out area.  As the trail comes into a clearing at the end of the pond, turn left and proceed on the earthen dam to the point where it is washed out.  Turn right and walk along the bank of the creek until you can find a spot to rock hop over.  Turn blazes are up ahead indicating to cross over but I found crossing to be easier before the turn blazes.  Then turn left and continue back to the earthen dam and turn right continuing along the end of the pond.
Shortly after navigating the washed out section, blazes indicate both left and right turns.  Turn left here as right is the high water walk around.  The high water walk around is not marked at the other end so you miss it heading out in this direction - you actually see where to turn for the other end of the bypass on the return route. Makes it pretty useless if the trail is flooded out - you would not know there is a bypass until you don't need it any more.
There are some white painted blazes in addition to white rectangle markers to confuse things even more but you want to head to the abandoned rail bed and in a few steps the white-blazed trail leaves to the right (where my dog is) as a foot path.
Careful on this foot bridge - it is old, rotten and wobbly.  It doesn't look like this part of the Four Birds Trail gets much use.
The red-blazed Marty Donofrio trail enters Land Conservancy of NJ property.  It is very well-blazed but also appears not to get much use.
After a steep climb up, some seasonal views at the top of the Marty Donofrio Trail.
The Marty Donofrio Trail ends at a woods road that runs along the ridge of Copperas Mountain and connects back to the Four Birds Trail.
As soon as the Four Birds Trail merges in on the woods road from the right, turn right briefly to a view of Charlotteburg Reservoir before returning to continue on.  Or continue to the right on the Four Birds Trail to head back for a 5.35 hike.
Four birds on the Four Birds Trail.
View of Charlotteburg Reservoir from the Four Birds Trail.
Charlotteburg Reservoir
A woods road connects the Four Birds Trail to the Wharton and Northern Railroad abandoned rail bed.
The Wharton and Norther Railroad abandoned rail bed along Charlotteburg Reservoir.  Walking on the large gravel is not very pleasant.
There are several no trespassing signs indicating not to leave the rail bed to get closer to the reservoir.  The reservoir is completely off limits.  Litter, however, is abundant so many seem to ignore the signs.
A long section of flooded out rail bed that was not easy to get around. 
Badly eroded rail bed.
Conflicting signs - the rail bed meets up with the high water walk around from earlier in the hike.  You have no choice but to ignore the no trespassing sign.
Spring flowers along the creek.
A burl that looks like a bear climbing a tree.
Ring-necked Ducks in Timberbrook Pond
Turtles sunbathing on a log in the pond.

HIKE SUMMARY:
[  0.00]  Take the yellow-blazed Timberbrook Trail from the parking lot
[  0.45]  Cross over woods road
[  0.75]  Yellow trail ends at the white-blazed Four Birds Trail, turn left and follow white
[  1.20]  Woods road comes in from the right; trail turns left on earthen dam at end of pond; at creek turn right, turn left and rock hop creek as soon as you can; turn left back to earthen dam; turn right to continue along end of pond; at intersection follow left turn markers to abandoned rail bed
[  1.40]  White trail leaves rail bed to the right as foot path into woods; keep left at fork when woods road goes right
[  1.45]  Cross over woods road
[  1.65]  Cross creek on old wooden log foot bridge
[  1.80]  Cross woods road; trail veers left; turn left on red diamond blazed trail
[  1.85]  Cross woods road
[  1.90]  Enter Land Conservancy of NJ property at sign
[  2.00]  Rock hop over creek
[  2.30]  Red diamond trail ends at top of incline at woods road; turn right on unmarked woods road
[  2.50]  Keep left at fork
[  2.55]  Keep right at fork
[  2.85]  White-blazed Four Birds Trail merges in from right; turn right briefly to view then retrace or turn right here and continue back on Four Birds Trail for 5.35 mile hike
[  3.00]  Woods road comes in from the left
[  3.50]  Woods road goes left; view on right; continue on white-blazed trail after view
[  3.60]  View on right; continue on white trail as it turns left and leaves woods road as a foot path; wider unmarked trail continues straight (red dashed line trail on map)
[  3.70]  Unmarked trail comes in from left
[  4.15]  At intersection turn right on unmarked woods road
[  4.95]  When woods road becomes eroded and fizzles out; keep right on a more defined woods road
[  5.00]  Turn right on abandoned rail bed running along creek (bridge and live railroad on other side of creek)
[  5.10]  Unmarked trail on right (shown as red-dashed unmaintained trail on map, trail will ascend very steeply but it can be used to get back to the Four Birds Trail at the views to avoid the abandoned rail bed that is not easy to walk on because of large gravel, flooding and erosion and is plagued with unsightly litter - would be about a 9 mile hike total)
[  6.50]  Flooded out section of rail bed
[  6.80]  Left at intersection then follow woods road as it veer right (can also turn right at intersection to stay on rail bed)
[  7.10]  Turn right on rail bed (flooded section) when left goes to reservoir and woods road continues straight
[  7.30]  Pond on right but more like swamp
[  7.55]  Keep left when rail bed merges in from right
[  7.75]  Keep straight when old stone walls appear on left and woods road goes right
[  7.85]  Keep straight on white-blazed high water walk around when it comes in from the left (alternatively, turn left and follow the high water walk around back to the Four Birds Trail)
[  8.10]  Turn left on one of the unmarked trails up and over short hill back to Four Birds Trail and earthen dam creek crossing in reverse of earlier in the hike
[  8.20]  High water walk around trail goes left (this is what is not blazed coming in the opposite direction and is easily missed on the way out)
[  8.25]  Keep right at fork with woods road
[  8.75]  Right on yellow-blazed Timberbrook Trail
[  9.00]  Cross woods road
[  9.45]  Back at parking lot

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I'd like to talk with you about using a photo that's on one of your posts from 2010 in the pages of Backpacker Magazine. In case you haven't seen that comment, I'm leaving one on this most recent post as well. Your blog posts are really great descriptions of your trips.
    Genny Fullerton
    gfullerton@backpacker.com
    303-625-1613

    ReplyDelete