Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wildcat Ridge WMA, NJ - Hibernia Brook Trail and Beach Glen Trail Loop


ABOUT THE PARK:
Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch - New Jersey Division of Environmental Protection
Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch

DIRECTIONS:
GPS Coordinates 40.944798, -74.492975

View Larger Map
When we arrived at 6:30 AM the lot was empty and we had the trails to ourselves.  End of the hike at 10:50 AM and the lot was full!

TRAIL MAP:
Jersey Highlands Trail Map #125 - NY-NJ Trail Conference
Wildcat Ridge WMA Trails - Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association
Wildcat Ridge WMA - Hibernia Brook Trail and Beach Glen Trail Loop at EveryTrail


HIKE DISTANCE:  6.2 miles

THE HIKE:
The orange and white (Four Birds) trails start and the blue trail ends to the right of the kiosk.
On the white-blazed Four Birds Trail.
Just a short distance in, keep straight when white turns left to get to ...
The Hibernia Mine Bat Cave where there are, unfortunately, not many bats left due to white nose syndrome.
Back on the Four Birds Trail.
Then taking the orange Hibernia Brook Trail.
Dogwood blooming everywhere.
Although orange shows as a continuous trail on the JORBA map, the blazes stop as the trail follows a woods road then after a right turn at a gate the orange blazes start again.
You can either take the gravel road (boring) or the orange trail to the right (very pretty) to Hawkwatch.
Orange crosses over the white-blazed Four Birds Trail shortly before ...
... coming up on ...
Hawkwatch
You can even see the moon from Hawkwatch!
Far away in the distance.
Great break spot.
The last time I was here it was humid and hazy but cool and crystal clear today!
The annoying gnats were out of control.
On the Four Birds Trail...
... heading to Graffiti Cliffs on a somewhat defined, old yellow-blazed trail.  No trail maintenance here so there are a few downed trees across the trail.
Coming up on Graffiti Cliffs.
The town of Hibernia down below.
Another nice break spot.
Heading back on a woods road.
Then a sharp right on another woods road with some partial views before descending steeply.
The woods road becomes badly eroded on the steepest sections so it's a bit slippery on the rocks.
The blue-blazed Beach Glen Trail.
Out of the many, many, many birds seen and heard during this hike, this little Eastern Bluebird was the only one who would sit still 2 seconds to have a picture taken.
Hibernia Brook before the end of the Beach Glen Trail at the parking lot.

HIKE SUMMARY:
[  0.00]  Begin from the parking lot on orange/white
[  0.10]  Keep straight on white when orange leaves to the left
[  0.15]  Keep straight towards bat caves when white leaves to the left
[  0.20]  Bat caves; retrace
[  0.25]  Turn right on white
[  0.45]  Turn right on orange when white continues straight almost at top of climb
[  0.50]  Looks like orange ends (triple blaze on tree) but according to map it should continue; keep straight and there will eventually be orange blazes again
[  0.95]  White crosses over, continue on orange (although not blazed on the woods road)
[  1.40]  Continue beyond gate, turn right towards next gate then right on orange
[  1.90]  Cross woods road at yellow marker WR0050
[  2.15]  Cross over white continuing on orange
[  2.25]  Hawkwatch overlook; retrace
[  2.35]  Turn left on white
[  2.50]  Rock hop over creek
[  2.95]  Cross woods road at cairn and keep straight
[  3.00]  Turn left on unmarked at yellow marker FB0012 where white veers right (there will be some faded yellow blazes on this trail but it is not maintained and there are blowdowns to navigate around)
[  3.30]  Navigate around blowdown and turn right at cairn, trail becomes grassy woods road
[  3.75]  Graffiti Cliffs; retrace
[  4.35]  Make hard right turn on to unmarked woods road
[  4.50]  Partial view to left - trail to left can be taken as it connects back to the woods road
[  4.70]  Keep right at fork
[  4.85]  Turn right on blue
[  5.10]  Keep right at fork
[  5.35]  Trail continues on far side of huge pit - not clearly blazed in this area
[  5.80]  Rock hop creek
[  5.90]  Keep straight when woods road goes to the right
[  6.20]  Back at parking

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