Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area, NJ - Beaver Lake Section

Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area Hiking Trails

GPS Coordinates 41.106093, -74.559558

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HUGE parking lot and you'll probably be the only one parked there when it's not hunting season.

North Jersey Trail Map 116 - New York New Jersey Trail Conference
Although this map shows the woods roads used in this hike, it doesn't show them completely and there are many other woods roads crossing over so the map is useless.  I could not have done this hike without Dan Balogh's hike track that I loaded on my GPS - thank you Dan! 
Here is my track which shows waypoints at each woods road junction which I will reference in the summary at the end.
Hamburg Mountain WMA, NJ - Beaver Lake Area at EveryTrail

HIKE DISTANCE:  5.9 miles

The first challenge is finding where the trail starts.  With your right side to Route 23 walk straight ahead and look for a small opening between the corner of the lot on the left and a drive coming in on the right.  The trail starts right where Shawnee is standing.
This hike is all on well-defined woods roads except for a bushwhack at the end.  It starts out uphill.
It's a lovely place.  Once you leave the traffic noise of Route 23 behind it's just plain peaceful.
After keeping left twice when trails leave to the right, turn left at this fork with an orange blaze painted on the tree straight ahead.  The return route will come in on the right side of the fork.
The trail descends after the fork.
It was a sunny day but it gets darker and darker the more the trail descends.
Some light up above.
Crossing Franklin Pond Creek, which is pretty dry.
Keep straight after crossing the creek when a trail goes right then at the T-intersection turn right.  There was a piece of red velvet around the tree at this turn.
The trail is eroded in places but a distinct footpath follows up along the right.
A Hamburg Mountain Resident
Cryptic trail directions?
A little red eft.
Interesting rock formations throughout.
Following along the ridge.
Accidental or intentional?
At the view, which has become overgrown.  Right before arriving at the view I heard voices and looked up to see two mountain bikers ready to round the bend right into us.  I yelled and jumped aside with Shawnee.  They screeched to a halt.  I knew they did not expect to see me there and indeed, they said in the 20 years they have been mountain biking in Hamburg Mountain WMA, they have only run into one other hiker.  So if you want solitude, this is definitely the place!
The view.
Leaving the view on a nice grassy woods road.
She missed her chicken jerky breaks while on hiking furlough for the past 3 weeks.  Shawnee had 3 lumps removed.  One on her thigh was nothing but the one on her chest and the one on her abdomen were mast cell tumors with dirty margins, grade II with a mitotic index of 0.  So what that means is the cancer spread beyond what was removed but it is a slow spreading cancer and her life expectancy is 70 months.  She is already 13 years old.  It is expected she will live out her natural life before the cancer gets her.  So all-in-all, not such bad news.  And the best part is we are back to hiking!
On the woods road that becomes paved and is called Hamburg Pike.
A pretty little pond on the left with a woods road just beyond the pond that we took uphill for a stretch - another hike for another time so it was just a short exploratory out and back.
Once the road becomes paved it becomes reminiscent of "Deliverance" so that is a good turn around point.  There is nothing to see of Hamburg Lake because it is behind the private property.
A spider catching a ride but he skittered off fast when he realized he was on - YIKES - a DOG!
Even though we were on the trail by 7 AM it was getting warm so lots of breaks and lots of drink.  The whole hike was shady and breezy which was very pleasant.
A pretty fancy fire pit with lots of litter and bullet shells.
Fairly fresh cut logs so these woods road do appear to be maintained.  All of the woods roads were clear and passable.
It was at this point where I had to backtrack realizing I had followed the woods road to the left when this is the point where we needed to leave the woods road and bushwhack.  So just before the woods road bends to the left, leave to the right.
Shawnee standing on the woods road giving me her "Please tell me you are joking.  We are not bushwhacking, are we?" look.  She HATES bushwhacking.  But she will do it if I insist.
And look at her, she is darned good at it.  Me, I had to follow Dan's track all the way and I would not have been able to do it without it.
There are lots of blow downs on the bushwhack part but nothing terribly difficult to get through/around.
As we neared this area, crows were squawking like mad back and forth at one another and taking turns circling.  We were entering the forbidden zone.  I believe they had a nest up in these trees since that is where they few away from to make us think there was no nest there.  They did not shut up until we were off of their turf and a safe distance away from that nest.  Loud they were!  And ANGRY!
Now a granddaddy long-leg hanging on.  Way better than ticks, which we did not see any of.  Just lots of annoying gnats and mosquitoes that don't know what Deep Wood OFF is.  But that is going to be the case anywhere this time of year.
The bushwhack eventually meets up with a faint footpath.
Then becomes a woods road.
Then it comes out at that fork from the beginning of the hike and where we retrace back to the car.
During the three weeks Shawnee was out of commission we missed mountain laurel blooming.  A few were on the ground but upon closer inspection ...
... I found one left on the bush for us :)
Back at the car.

NOTE:  Please do not rely on these directions to do this hike.  You should have the track loaded into a GPS to know where to go.  It is VERY easy to get lost on the unmarked maze of woods roads. This is just to give a rough idea of distances between intersections.

[  0.00]  Find the trail at the east side of the parking lot between the corner of the lot and the drive coming in off of Route 23
[  0.20]  WAYPOINT 1  Stay left on woods road when a woods road comes in from the right
[  0.35]  WAYPOINT 2  Stay left on woods road when a woods road comes in from the right
[  0.40]  WAYPOINT 3  Keep left at fork
[  0.55]  WAYPOINT 4  Keep left at fork
[  0.65]  WAYPOINT 5  Rock hop creek then turn right at T-intersection
[  0.90]  WAYPOINT 6  Turn left at intersection - black paint on tree with letters and arrows pointing to woods road just came off of and the woods road to the right
[  1.20]  WAYPOINT 7  At top of rise turn right and follow ridge when faint footpath goes left
[  1.25]  WAYPOINT 8  Keep right on woods road when a less defined trail goes left
[  1.50]  WAYPOINT 9  Keep right on woods road when footpath goes left
[  1.60]  WAYPOINT 10  Turn right on woods road going uphill when woods road goes straight
[  1.80]  WAYPOINT 11  Views; continue on grassy woods road
[  2.00]  WAYPOINT 12  Intersection where many woods road come together (two loops of the hike come together here) take the first woods road on the left
[  2.15]  WAYPOINT 13  Turn right at T-intersection
[  2.70]  WAYPOINT 14  Turn right on wide woods road (Hamburg Pike)
[  2.80]  WAYPOINT 15  Keep straight but the woods road on the right will be the return route
                  *** went to woods road along pond and Hamburg Lake then returned***
[  3.40]  WAYPOINT 15  Turn left on woods road leaving Hamburg Pike
[  3.50]  WAYPOINT 16  Keep right at fork
[  3.60]  WAYPOINT 17  Keep left on woods road when another woods road comes in from the right
[  3.90]  WAYPOINT 12  At T-intersection turn left then take left fork (right fork is the woods road coming down from the view from earlier in the hike)
[  4.20]  WAYPOINT 18  Turn left when a trail also goes right
[  4.60]  Looks like there is a fork but it is not, rejoins a short distance ahead
[  4.90]  WAYPOINT 19  Turn right off of trail to start bushwhack
[  5.55]  WAYPOINT 3  Turn left at intersection from earlier in the hike (with the orange blaze on the tree)
[  5.70]  WAYPOINT 2  Keep left when woods road goes right
[  5.75]  WAYPOINT 1  Keep left when woods road goes right
[  5.90]  Back at parking lot