Saturday, March 5, 2016

Stokes State Forest, NJ - Blue Mountain Loop Western Section

Stokes State Forest - NJ Department of Environmental Protection

GPS Coordinates 41.18549, -74.79597
Parking at Stokes State Forest office.

Northern Kittatinny Trails Map 122 - NY/NJ Trail Conference
Stokes State Forest Trail Map North - NY/NJ Trail Conference free map
NEW TRAIL:  Blue Mountain Loop - NY/NJ Trail Conference free map

HIKE DISTANCE:  9.5 miles
I had no intention of making Shawnee hike 9.5 miles at her age (I am shocked at how well she held up) but I apparently guestimated wrong when I planned this hike.  It can be shortened to 7 miles by staying on the Stony Brook Trail and omitting the Silver Mine Trail.

Keep in mind if you are reading this after November 2016, the existing trail signs/markers will be removed and this will all be the blue-blazed Blue Mountain Loop (except where I cut over on the Stony Brook and Silver Mine Trails.  At the time of this hike the trails still ran together.
Walk from the parking lot around to the back of the park office.  The Blue Mountain Loop crosses over Coursen Road at the intersection just behind the park office.  I started to the right where the Blue Mountain Loop currently runs with the Lackner Trail.  At the end of the hike the trail comes out to the left before the bridge.
Starting on the Blue Mountain Loop/Lackner Trail.
On the Blue Mountain Loop/Lackner Trail.
The trail skirts around a small pond.
Continue on past the Lead Mine Trail (this will pretty much take you right back to the park office).
At the Stony Lake Trail on the right, it's worth a short walk in to ...
... a gorgeous view of Stony Lake.
The Normanook Lookout Tower on the Appalachian Trail can be seen on the Kittatinny Ridge.
Continue on the Blue Mountain Loop/Lackner Trail to Coursen Road.
Turn right and cross the bridge on Coursen Road.
Just after the bridge, the Blue Mountain Loop/Swenson Trail goes right but turn left here on the brown Stony Brook Trail.  (There are no signs here so watch for the markers.  The 2012 version of the NY/NJ Trail conference map does now show the Stony Brook Trail here rather farther up ahead through the parking lot so at some point the trail must have been moved.)
The Stony Brook Trail is very scenic...
... all along Stony Brook.
The Stony Brook Trail cuts through a picnic area...
...then resumes on a wider woods road along Stony Brook.
Critter tracks everywhere in the snow.
Here I turned right on the Silver Mine Trail which made the hike 9.5 miles.  Continuing on the Stony Brook Trail until it meets up with the Blue Mountain Loop, should make the hike about 7 miles.
Before turning right on the Silver Mine Trail, a quick peek at Stony Brook Falls.
Silver Mine Trail
A right at a fork leads downhill to Silver Mine.
Retrace and continue on the Silver Mine Trail.
An old wall off the Silver Mine Trail.
At the end of the Silver Mine Trail...
... left on the original Blue Mountain Trail which has the new blue Blue Mountain Loop markers along with the old markers.  From this point it's blue all the way back.
The Blue Mountain Loop leaves the Blue Mountain Trail to the left.
Blue comes out on to a park road and crosses over the bridge along with the brown Stony Brook Trail (this is where you would meet back up with blue having stayed on the Stony Brook Trail).
Stony Brook
When the Stony Brook Trail ends, cross the park road continuing on blue...
... which will run along Big Flat Brook.
I thought she might not be happy with chicken jerky any more after her chicken birthday cake on the last hike but I thought wrong.  Still loves her chicken jerky hiking snack. (And almost my finger.)
There are some very scenic areas along Big Flat Brook.
And some not so scenic parts where the going gets tough on those chunky, wobbly rocks.
There are a few side creek crossings.
Then the trail passes a pond.
Mr. and Mrs. Common Merganser with the pond all to themselves.
Continuing on, it's more of that chunky gravel...
Until the trail leaves the woods road.  This is all new trail.
The trail crosses over Shotwell Road...
... then continues along with the existing Tibbs Trail.
Coming up on a large pond.
The trail continues uphill along the pond.
Ring-necked ducks in the pond.
Blue leaves the Tibbs Trail to the right.
In the winter, Normanook Lookout Tower can be seen to the left.
At a creek, blue turns left and follows the creek a short distance...
... then crosses the creek.  This rock hop, however, was absolutely not doable for Shawnee and the water was way too deep for her to ford over.  We continued on along the creek looking for a better spot to cross...
... and ended up coming out on Coursen Road where we could cross on the bridge.
The blue trail came out just the other side of the bridge so we had been parallel to the trail on the other side of the creek.
Just a short distance on Coursen Road back to the park office and parking lot.


  1. I am so glad to see Shawnee doing so well.
    We had to say goodbye to our beautiful Lacy yesterday at the age of 15.
    We are beyond heartbroken. I wish you many good times with your furbaby.

    1. Oh, Nanette, I feel your pain. I am so very sorry.


  2. Daniela -
    Wait...hold on a sec... is it possible?
    No balloons found on this hike?

    1. Ha ha ha! Yes, sad but true. Thought I saw one and went to get it only to find it was one of those big aluminum catering pans wadded up in a ball. Maybe better luck next time.


  3. God Bless Shawnee that she is doing so well. The Stony Brook trail looked very nice. I especially liked your pictures of the ducks. Thanks for sharing! Joanne

  4. Wish I did as well as Shawnee when an extra couple of miles are unexpectedly tacked onto a hike! She's still young at heart enough to actually enjoy celebrating a month-long birthday. I dread just one day. :( BTW: Your putting up this hike now came as a real help for us for this weekend. Post-snowshoeing we were just too lazy to put together another one on such short notice. Gotta keep moving, ya know?:)


    1. I'm with you on the birthdays. Prefer nobody knows what day it is and kind of just let it pass by quietly. And yes, Shawnee is a testament to the fact that you must keep moving if you want to keep moving! Have fun, it's a very pretty hike.