Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mount Paul, NJ - Northern Section

State Buying Large Woodlands Tract in Jefferson -
Sale Means Mt. Paul Will Become State Park -
Retreat Amongst the Woodlands - Cougar's Byte

GPS Coordinates 41.047221, -74.544628

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Room for about 5 cars between Ridge Road and the power cut on Mount Paul Road.

Kittatinny Valley State Park - Mount Paul Area - NYNJ Trail Conference/NJ DEP
Approximate trail distances:
Mount Paul Road (paved) - .8
Orange (including unmarked part from mowed clearing) - 1.1
Mount Paul Road (unpaved from orange to white) - .5
White (from unpaved Mount Paul Road to charcoal) - 1.2
Charcoal - .5
Yellow (from charcoal to blue) - .2
Blue (from yellow to teal Highlands Trail) - .5
Teal Highlands Trail (from blue to power cut) - 1.5

Mount Paul, NJ - Northern Section at EveryTrail

Mount Paul -

HIKE DISTANCE:    6.4 miles

From the parking area, proceed along paved Mount Paul Road beyond the gate.
Looking back towards the gate and parking area.
Peaceful paved road through the woods.
One third of a mile in I realized I left my map printouts in the car.  Couldn't go on without them.  Not wanting Shawnee to log mileage she didn't need to, we returned to the top of the hill, I tied her to my backpack and ran the rest of the way to my car and back up the hill.  She used to practice out-of-sight stays in obedience class where she would need to stay while I was out of sight for 5 minutes.  Even though she did not like this, it wasn't anything she didn't know how to do.  She could have dragged my backpack down the hill and she didn't, my good girl :).
This woods road blazed green (far right tree) should go through to the Highlands Trail but on my way back I could not find the other end from the Highlands Trail.
The woods road on the right goes to the cemetery where 70 priests were buried before they were moved after the land was bought by the state.  Ahead on the left is a mowed clearing. The trail to the summit of Mount Paul is reached through that clearing.
Retreat building now leased by Kean University.
Crossing the dam at Stony Brook Lake.
Stony Brook Lake
An old bridge on the unpaved part of Mount Paul Road.
We looped around back to the cemetery because at the time I was looking for the trail to the summit of Mount Paul but had not yet found it.
Former cemetery.
Turning on to that mowed clearing....
... beyond this forest fire box ...
... to a portal into another world - that is what it feels like.  You have to look for the opening in the trees.
Climbing up Mount Paul.
After a false summit, the trail is blazed orange.
At the summit of Mount Paul, just a short bushwhack off trail.
Continuing on from the summit becomes tricky since the trail is less well-defined and the paint blazes are harder to see.
We managed to stay on track and things open up again right before ...
... unpaved Mount Paul Road.
A Bluejay
Crossing over Stony Brook
Taking a dip in Stony Brook.
Shortly after crossing over Stony Brook, watch for an old electric pole on the left with a white blaze above a white box - this is the access to the white trail.
On the white trail.  Most blazes are very faded and hard to see but the trail is mostly well-defined through this area.
In a jumble of blow downs, what appears to be a newer red trail goes to the right but it doesn't seem to be a trail at all, just a bunch a blazes through the woods so we continued on around the blow downs and continued on the white trail.
The trail clears out again.  None of the blow downs were so bad that we could not get through or around them.
The Charcoal Trail - now if that isn't an easy color to see!
The charcoal trail ends at the yellow trail.
Yellow Trail to the left, Blue Trail to the right.
It is actually blue and green combined until green leaves to the right.  We continued left on blue to...
The Highlands Trail
Here is where you can truly appreciate the difference between unmaintained and maintained trails.
An onlooker.
Taking a break on the Highlands Trail.
A busy hornet's nest up high in a tree.
The Highlands Trail crosses the power cut and you can see Mount Paul Road just a few yards away.
There is a faint trail through the power cut that connects back over and parking is immediately on the left.