Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cushetunk Mountain Nature Preserve, NJ

Cushetunk Mountain Nature Preserve - Hunterdon County, NJ
Cushetunk Mountain Trail - Readington Township, NJ
Part of the trail is closed from January 1 - August 1 each year for eagle nesting.  The best time to do this hike would be September - December but views are very limited when there is foliage on the trees.

GPS Coordinates to parking at Pickell Park:  40.607862, -74.778427

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The southern trail head for the Cushetunk Mountain Trail is located in Pickell Park.
Large parking area at Pickell Park.

Cushetunk Mountain Preserve Trail Map - Hunterdon County, NJ

8.20 miles with 6.30 mile option

Facing the ball field, turn right and walk towards the kiosk which designates the beginning of the Cushetunk Mountain Trail.
Follow the paved path between the ball field and the fence.
Looking across the ballfield...
Cushetunk Mountain Trail blaze (called Readington Connector Trail on the map)
At the far corner of the ball field, the trail exits to the right as a gravel path into the former Vislocky Farm Open Space.
Cushetunk Mountain from one of the Vislocky Farm fields.
Lots of fall wildflowers along the trail this time of year.
A yellow trail detours through more farm fields...
... and crosses a creek at an old dam before meeting back up with the blue trail.
The blue trail crosses through a power cut where a second yellow side trail (not on the map) merges back in.
The blue trail then ascends steeply to a white-blazed trail which leads to...
... seasonal/partial views of Round Valley Reservoir.
From this point you can retrace and continue on the blue trail, or continue along the preserve boundary following a defined but unmarked footpath along the mountain ridge.  The boundary signs will always be on your right.
The unmarked trail meets back up with the white-blazed Ridge Trail which continues along the ridge over a few rugged rock scrambles.
More seasonal/partial views of Round Valley Reservoir along the way.
When the white trail leaves the ridge to the right, a red-blazed trail to the left leads down to...
Round Valley Reservoir

Continuing to the right, a green-blazed trail follows close to the shore...
... with lots of nice reservoir views.
The green trail veers away from the reservoir at a cairn shortly before a chain link fence and becomes overgrown at times as it switchbacks up the mountain.
The green trail ends at an unmarked woods road where you turn right.
A nice open view of the reservoir from the woods road along the ridge.
The woods road fizzles out into a foot path and red blazes begin to appear just before meeting back up with the white Ridge Trail.
The white trail descends steeply to a parking lot in a power cut which leads to...
... the yellow-blazed Scout Trail through a very pretty forest.
The blue trail ascends steeply before heading back to Pickell Park.

[  0.00]   Facing the ball field, turn right and walk towards the kiosk then follow the blue diamond markers along the chain link fence
[  0.15]  At the corner of the paved path, veer right on gravel path into farm field; keep right
[  0.25]  Jog right then left then right on to tree lined woods road between farm fields
[  0.40]  Turn right on yellow then right again at field (no turn marker)
[  0.55]  Exit field downhill into the woods
[  0.60]  Rock hop creek at old dam
[  0.75]  Right on blue when yellow ends
[  0.80]  Rock hop over creek
[  0.90]  Straight on blue into power cut when yellow (not on map) goes right
[  1.05]  Straight on blue when yellow (not on map) comes in from right; blue leaves power cut to the left uphill into woods

[  1.40]  Left on white when blue goes right
[  1.60]  White blazes stop at season view; continue on unmarked foot path along preserve boundary
[  2.10]  Unmarked trail ends at trail closure sign when white comes in from the right; keep left on white around large downed tree trunk and continue along ridge
[  2.70]  At T-intersection turn left on red; keep left at fork a few steps ahead when red also goes right (return route)
            *** for 6.35 mile version, turn right on white and pick up from [ 4.60 ] ***
[  3.00]  Keep right at fork on unmarked when red goes left
[  3.05]  At Round Valley Reservoir, turn right on green
[  3.70]  At large cairn, green trail turns sharply right and starts uphill (overgrown section)
[  3.85]  Turn right on unblazed woods road
[  4.10]  Open view of reservoir from woods road; woods road becomes foot path soon after this point
[  4.50]  Red blazes start to appear
[  4.60]  At T-intersection turn left; after a few steps white comes in from the right, keep straight on white (Parking Lot Trail)
[  5.15]  Turn right into power cut at parking area
[  5.20]  Turn right on yellow trail (Scout Trail); keep straight at fork
[  5.70]  Keep right at fork
[  6.00]  Right on white Readington Connector Trail when yellow ends
[  6.30]  Turn left on blue trail
[  6.90]  Turn left on blue when white goes uphill to the right
[  7.30]  Blue trail goes through power cut
[  7.35]  Turn left on yellow (not on map) when blue continues straight in power cut
[  7.50]  Turn left on blue when yellow ends
[  7.60]  Continue on blue through farm fields and tree lined woods road
[  7.70]  Keep right at fork
[  7.80]  Straight on blue when yellow goes left
[  8.05]  Enter ball field on gravel path
[  8.20]  Back at parking

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