Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mount Paul, NJ - Southern Section with Eastern Mahlon Dickerson Reservation

State Buying Large Woodlands Tract in Jefferson -
Sale Means Mt. Paul Will Become State Park -
Retreat Amongst the Woodlands - Cougar's Byte
Mahlon Dickerson Reservation - Morris County Parks

GPS Coordinates 41.014504, -74.556651

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Parking at the old Snow Bowl entrance on Weldon Road.

Kittatinny Valley State Park - Mount Paul Area - NYNJ Trail Conference/NJ DEP

Mahlon Dickerson Reservation Trail Map - Morris County Parks
Mount Paul, NJ - Southern Section with Northern Part of Mahlon Dickerson Reservation at EveryTrail

HIKE DISTANCE:  7.8 miles
(About 5 miles if parking on Sparta Mountain Road at a kiosk where the Highlands Trail crosses and only hiking the Mount Paul portion using Sparta Mountain Road to close the loop.  No maps indicate parking at that location but there is room for a couple of cars and no signs saying you can't park there.)

A view from the parking area.
From the parking pull-off, turn left and go a short distance to the unmarked trail on the right.  The trail is obvious but there is no sign.
Heading up...
... to the teal Highlands Trail/white trail.
An unmarked trail leads to Sparta Mountain Road where there are conflicting signs.
A short road walk on Sparta Mountain Road.
Another conflicting sign.  But this is the boundary for the Mount Paul property which used to be private but is now state park land.
After a short road walk, veer right on a wide woods road which is an unmarked trail through the Mount Paul property.
Very quiet and peaceful along the unmarked trail.
On the charcoal trail but hard to see the paint markings.
The yellow trail, another quiet woods road.
There is a blow down every so often but following the path of least resistance, if there is a bypass, Shawnee finds it.
At the T-intersection, left on unpaved Mount Paul Road.
Mount Paul Road follows along Stony Brook...
... but Shawnee is looking for water that isn't there.
At the lake.
A newer blazed orange trail goes completely around the lake.
Off to the left, a bunker?  Or a gnome house.
The orange blazes sometimes have an "L" on them.
Stony Brook Lake from the orange trail.
Looking back at the dam.
Waiting for slowpoke mom to get over the blow downs.
There are quite a few blow downs along a short section towards the end of the lake but the rest is clear.
The other end of Stony Brook Lake.
The old retreat building on the other side of Stony Brook Lake.
Some ducks flew up from the lake.
Some of these downed trees are no problem at all for Shawnee but I get stuck in them.
Looking back at the tangled mess.
This seemed like a good idea at the time.
But I suppose they have those "NO SWIMMING" signs up for a reason.
There are even a couple of nice footbridges along the orange trail.
Apparently constructed by the priests.
It made a nice break spot with a view of the lake behind the pines.
Just a short distance further ...
... the retreat building.  You might notice some signs in the second floor windows on the left.  It took the 35x zoom to read them...
Odd place to put signs where they can't be seen.
Coming up on the dam.
On to the green trail,
which is joined by blue,
then left on the teal Highlands Trail.  The Highlands Trail starts out as a woods road.
But then leaves the woods road as a footpath and becomes the rugged, rocky trail we expect it to be.
Back at Sparta Mountain Road - turn right a short distance to the kiosk, then left to continue on the teal Highlands Trail.
This is not noted on any of the maps but there is room for at least two cars to park here and no signs that say you can't so this could serve as another parking spot for just hiking the Mount Paul trails.
White joins in but this is not the part we hiked earlier.
A red-bellied woodpecker.
The purple trail.
The purple trail follows along a creek, dry today except for one spot and if there is water, she will find it.  Have to wash off the Stony Brook Lake muck anyway.
Bowling Green Mountain through the trees.
The view from the purple trail but it's more of the high school than anything else.
Fresh bear scat.
Back on Weldon Road heading towards the parking area.

[  0.00]  Left on Weldon Road a short distance to unmarked but obvious trail on right
[  0.10]  Keep straight when a trail crossed over (right will be return route)
[  0.20]  Right on combined teal Highlands/white trail
[  0.30]  At intersection with bench continue right on teal/white
[  0.70]  Keep right on teal/white when pink goes left
[  0.80]  Keep straight on teal/white when unmarked goes right; keep straight when purple goes right (return route); cross creek
[  0.90]  Shortly after crossing creek when teal/white goes left, turn right on unmarked
[  1.00]  Turn left on paved Sparta Mountain Road
[  1.10]  Turn right on unmarked but obvious woods road
[  1.60]  Keep straight on woods road when a footpath goes left
[  1.90]  Keep straight on charcoal when white goes right (won't see charcoal paint markings right away)
[  2.30]  Turn right on yellow when yellow also goes left
[  2.50]  Straight on yellow when purple goes left (have to turn around to see blazes)
[  2.60]  Keep right on yellow at fork with blue and yellow arrows (not too many yellow blazes for a while)
[  3.20]  Left on unpaved Mount Paul Road
[  3.40]  Keep left at fork
[  3.50]  Arrive at barn with lake beyond; turn left at lake, keep to the right of the stone structure to orange "L" trail
[  3.60]  Keep right on orange at fork (left is green and will be return route)
[  3.90]  At end of lake orange trail continues around lake but blazes might be hard to see (campsite on left)
[  4.00]  Open stone grotto with bench on left
[  4.10]  Pass retreat building continuing around lake
[  4.20]  Cross dam
[  4.30]  Take orange trail to right of stone structure
[  4.40]  Veer left at fork on green
[  4.70]  Blue joins green from the left
[  4.80]  Rock hop creek then in a few steps turn left on blue when green leaves to the right
[  5.00]  Turn left on teal Highlands Trail
[  5.30]  Keep right on teal at fork when red goes left
[  5.60]  Turn left on footpath when teal leaves the woods road
[  6.00]  Turn right on Sparta Mountain Road then left at kiosk on teal; after a few steps white joins in from the right
[  6.30]  Left on teal/white when red starts to the right
[  6.40]  Keep right at fork on teal/white
[  6.60]  Right on teal/white when unmarked goes left (that was the unmarked to Mount Paul from the beginning of the hike)
[  6.70]  Cross footbridge over creek then turn left on purple
[  7.60]  Turn left on unmarked when purple goes right
[  7.70]  Turn right on unmarked at 4-way intersection; at end of trail left on Weldon Road
[  7.80]  Back at parking


  1. The Mt. Paul area is a pristine, beautiful place I frequent regularly. My work is 7 minutes away, gives me just enough time to go up the paved road up the hill to Stony Brook Lake for a few minutes of meditation. Before we moved our office I used to hit Mahlon Dickerson all the time. The purple trail used to be unmarked and was called the Cascade Trail. I love this place. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone!

    1. How lucky are you! Makes it hard to go back to work, no doubt :) It is a very peaceful place. No traffic noise, nobody else around, just wonderful. I much prefer Mount Paul over Mahlon Dickerson, so much more remote and isolated even though it is right next door. That purple trail is very pretty. Must be really nice when there is actually water for cascades.


    2. Yes, I purposefully went to the purple trail after a heavy rainstorm and sure enough, that trickling brook becomes a raging river. It's amazing. Mount Paul is such a well-kept secret. You don't find much info on the web. I haven't made the full loop around the lake yet, just a little to much time during a lunch hour, but I will play hooky one day and do this full hike you posted. There's a nice hike just down the street from Mount Paul at Ryker Lake too. I think you posted that one before,

  2. Here's a photo I snapped last week on my lunch break at Stony Brook Lake:

    1. I love the "Pano" feature on the iPhones nowadays and they upgraded the editing features on the latest update

  3. Perhaps the gnome house was a spring house?

  4. Very nice area! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you Daniela for sharing your information on these hiking trails. I especially like your step by step instructions from were you started. I'm going to do the same path. I do not like the poorly maintained trails, so I find myself just hiking the same trail, Highlands to Mahlon and vice versa. I do go around Stony Brook Lake, but feel like I am missing out on so much more. Thanks to your blog, I think I will venture further out on some of the trails you mentioned.

    1. Thanks, Karen! It should be easier now that there is a proper map available. I had changed the link to that from the makeshift one I had come up with when there was no map.