Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ten Mile Run Greenway, NJ - Bunker Hill Natural Area and Griggstown Preserve

Franklin Township Open Space - New Jersey Audubon

GPS Coordinates 40.426314, -74.572532

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Parking at Bunker Hill Natural Area Trailhead

Bunker Hill Natural Area - Township of Franklin
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve Trail System - Township of Franklin  (Note that the purple trail is actually blazed with blue markers, it is not a lollipop with a loop, maybe a lollipop with several loops? and contrary to what the map says, dogs are not allowed but you don't see that until you are way over on the other side.)

Status of the trails at the time of this hike:
Bunker Hill Natural Area:
   yellow trail - all mowed and clear
   brown trail - all clear to Ten Mile Run
   blue trail - pretty much clear
   red trail - not cleared, not well-defined, overgrown, heavy blowdowns and thorny invasives
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve System
   purple trail - which is actually blue, all clear
   brown trail - in the woods could not get through blowdowns heading out but was able to the other way from the orange trail
   yellow trail - all clear (sometimes also blazed orange instead of yellow)
   red trail - all mowed and clear but very soggy
   blue trail - did not hike much of it but looked to be mowed and cleared
   orange trail - mostly cleared, one section of heavy blowdowns

HIKE DISTANCE:  9.5 miles
To make the hike about half the distance, park at the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve lot (40.435702, -74.609851) and hike those trails without going through the residential section over to Bunker Hill Natural Area. 

The trail starts as a wide, mowed path at the kiosk.
Just in case you might forget, you will see this sign very (VERY) often throughout the hike.
In case you forgot to wear your blaze orange...  or hike on Sunday when there is no hunting.
Starting on the yellow trail.
It was a pea soup foggy morning which actually made the hike more interesting.
The brown trail heads through the woods to...
... a rock hop ...

... to scenic shale cliffs at Ten Mile Run.  Retrace back to yellow from this point.  (The brown trail continues to another parking lot but most likely requires fording to cross Ten Mile Run since no rocks were visible.)
The blue trail in Bunker Hill Natural Area.
The red trail crosses Bunker Hill Road.
The red trail goes through a strip of woods between homes on either side.  The trail is not well-defined, not well-maintained, loaded with thorny invasives and blowdowns.
Then it appears as though the trail takes you into peoples' yards.  Continue between the two houses to...
The intersection straight ahead and follow the Greenway Trail signs along Winding Way.
When Winding Way veers to the left and the greenway signs are suddenly nowhere to be found, turn right on the paved road that turns to gravel after a large open area on the right ...
... and cross the bridge to ...
... this private park sign that you have to walk around to find
another Greenway Trail sign.
Follow the retaining wall of the private park around to this clearing on the right, turn right here and follow the faint path through the clearing (no blazes).
Rock hop over Simonson Brook (?)
After crossing the brook the trail in the clearing becomes the brown trai in Griggstown Preserve.
Looking back at the intersection of the brown and purple trails (but the purple trail is blazed in blue).
The purple trail that is blue.
Two benches at the end of the stick of the lollipop where blue splits - but there are more forks along the way all blazed in blue so it's hard to figure out what is what with no accurate map.
Having a snack before we were aware no dogs are allowed here.  There are no signs in this area. 
I figured out the blue trail was the same as the purple trail when I came across the Bunker Hill Environmental Center.
Then farther along at the kiosk at the building ahead a sign saying no dogs allowed and ...
... turn around to find one in the opposite directions.  So we skedaddled on out of there instead of trying to figure out the loops.
The brown trail merges onto a gravel road before it leaves to the right.  When it becomes a footpath I found it to be impenetrable because of the massive blowdowns - I could not find the continuation of the trail after bushwhacking around the largest so I went back to the gravel road and continued on yelloe.  I was able to stay with the brown trail later coming in the opposite direction.
When brown leaves the gravel road, it continues as yellow and yellow leaves into the woods as a footpath just before this large tank.
The yellow trail is sometimes blazed with yellow markers, sometimes orange.  There is an orange trail but that is a different trail.
The yellow trail comes out into a field as a mowed path before meeting up with the red trail.
Some unfinished breakfast on a trail post.
From the red trail, a view of the Sourland Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap.  But not today.
I saw something huge land in a tree and I know it wasn't a turkey vulture (I think it might have been a bald eagle by the size and the way it landed) but a turkey vulture is what I ended up honing in on although I did not know it until I got home and blew the picture up.
The Griggstown Preserve parking lot across the fields.
I did get a red-tailed hawk!
The orange trail has been cleared mostly - still one section about in the middle that was blocked by blowdowns but passable.
Simonson Brook from the orange trail.
Blowdowns on the brown trail.  I found it easier to follow the white hunting warnings than the brown trail markers.
The brown trail leaves the gravel road into the clearing at the blue (purple on map) trail.
Crossing back over the brook where the brown trail ends and the red Greenway Trail begins through ...
... the residential area in between the two houses into the woods.
I had intended to stay on red all the way back to the parking lot but immediately before joining yellow, just before the lot, an impenetrable blowdown.  Had to backtrack to blue then yellow to get around to the other side.
On the yellow trail at the other side of the trail blockage.
There were tons of birds on the yellow trail that weren't there earlier in the morning.

[  0.00]  Take the yellow trail, a wide, mowed path, from the kiosk in the parking lot; straight on yellow when red goes left
[  0.25]  Straight on yellow when blue goes left
[  0.35]  Keep straight on yellow when yellow also goes left and unmarked goes right; continue on yellow when two more unmarked mowed paths go right
[  0.55]  Right on brown leaving mowed path as a footpath into woods
[  0.60]  Rock hop creek
[  0.65]  Keep right at arrow indicating left turn (a few times through this hike the markers showed a turn in the opposite direction from what it should have been); come up on shale cliffs at Ten Mile Run; retrace on brown
[  0.70]  Rock hop creek
[  0.75]  Turn right on yellow
[  1.10]  At 4-way intersection turn right on yellow when yellow also goes left and unmarked goes straight  (no yellow marker until further up ahead)
[  1.20]  Turn right on blue and keep right following arrow even though there are blue markers to the left (blue makes a loop that isn't shown on the map)
[  1.45]  Blue ends at red, turn right on red and cross Bunker Hill Road
[  1.70]  Rock hop creek
[  1.90]  Exit woods between two houses, proceed straight ahead and follow Winding Way through residential area
[  2.10]  When Winding Way veers left, turn right on road that turns to gravel (no signs), cross bridge
[  2.20]  Turn right behind private park sign where Greenway Trail signs resume; continue to follow retaining wall of park around to the left
[  2.25]  Turn right on faint trail through open area
[  2.30]  Rock hop over creek; brown trail starts at post in clearing
[  2.55]  Turn right on blue (purple on map)
[  2.80]  Double benches at fork - after exploring blue trails return to this area to get back to brown  (no detail regarding blue trails since I did a lot of backtracking and going in circles)
[  4.35]  Turn right on brown which is now a gravel road
[  4.65]  Keep straight on gravel road which becomes the yellow trail when brown leaves the gravel road to the right into the woods
[  4.85]  Yellow leaves gravel road to the left just before large white tank (trail markers are sometimes orange but same trail)
[  5.10]  Yellow turns right when unmarked goes straight
[  5.20]  Yellow turns right on woods road (orange gate to the left)
[  5.40]  Yellow leaves woods road to the right (also continues straight but no markers and it becomes overgrown before meeting up with red)
[  5.45]  Turn left towards a clearing when brown goes right
[  5.50]  Keep left on yellow at field when brown goes right
[  5.55]  Keep straight along field when yellow goes left (this is not on the map but it takes you in a circle back to the woods road)
[  5.65]  Turn left on orange then after a few steps left on red towards bench
[  5.75]  Straight on red when yellow goes left (this is where yellow comes out from the woods road but overgrown)
[  5.85]  Overlook at bench; continue following red around perimeter of field
[  6.30]  Turn right on blue/red, keep left on blue when red goes right
[  6.45]  At gravel road when blue goes left, turn right on red briefly then left on red
[  6.65]  Left on orange at end of field at the top of the hill
[  6.85]  Rock hop creek
[  7.25]  Turn left on brown at field when orange continues straight
[  7.40]  Turn left on brown at end of field when yellow (but looks orange) goes right
[  7.70]  Turn left on brown at gravel road when yellow goes right
[  7.95]  Straight on brown into clearing when blue goes left and gravel road veers right
[  8.20]  Rock hop creek; keep left around private park to bridge, turn right and cross bridge
[  8.35]  Left on Winding Way through residential area
[  8.55]  Continue between two houses into woods
[  8.80]  Rock hop creek
[  9.05]  Cross Bunker Hill Road; when blue goes left turn right on red
[  9.15]  Left on blue when red goes straight (red goes back to yellow just before parking lot but at this time impassable due to blowdowns)
[  9.30]  Turn right on yellow
[  9.45]  Straight on yellow when red comes in from right at bench
[  9.50]  Back at parking lot

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