Saturday, April 30, 2016

Stokes State Forest, NJ - Stony Brook and Sunrise Mountain

Stokes State Forest - NJ Department of Environmental Protection

GPS Coordinates 41.20353, -74.77256
This is the Stony Lake parking lot after the hike.  In the summer this lot will be packed full and there is an entrance fee from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Northern Kittatinny Trails Map 122 - NY/NJ Trail Conference
Stokes State Forest Trail Map North - NY/NJ Trail Conference free map

HIKE DISTANCE:  9.2 miles

On today's hike we were accompanied by my son, his fiancee, their dog Sebastian and Al, the poodle, who was staying with us for the weekend.  The hike turned out longer than planned and we were prepared to carry Al if he got too tired but he hiked the entire 9.2 miles!
From the Stony Lake parking lot, head towards the kiosk...
... then veer left on to ...
... the blue/brown/green/red trail.  For this hike we will be staying with the brown Stony Brook Trail as they others split off.
Veer right at the first fork on brown/green.  We'll be returning from the left.
Al is a novice hiker so he hasn't quite grasped the concept of not going off trail and getting oneself in a bind.  Literally.
At the second fork stay left with brown when green leaves to the right.
After that fork there is on old well a few steps up on the left.  My son went to investigate and found...
... a groundhog or maybe muskrat that had fallen in and was alive.  It was about 10 feet down to where he was.
Shawnee totally knew there was a critter in there.  We had planned on stopping by the park office to report this on our way out but happened across a park ranger a few hours later and told him about it.  He promised he would swing over that way and check it out.
Continuing on.
Al is also not experienced in the fine art of creek crossings.  He did not want to cross at first, then tried to jump across, did not quite make it and landed smack in the water.
He then proceeded to zoom around as if he had just had a bath.
The Stony Brook Trail starts to parallel Stony Brook.
Al was delighted that this crossing had a bridge but if there is an option, Shawnee prefers to ford across.
The Stony Brook Trail crosses ...
... Sunrise Mountain Road where the will be one-way traffic which would be those driving to the Sunrise Mountain pavilion.  We will be hiking there.
Shortly after crossing Sunrise Mountain Road, the brown Stony Brook Trail ends at the white-blazed Appalachian Trail.
Head left towards Maine.
Happy Hikers
Eastern Towhee
Coming up on...
... one of my favorite break spots off of the AT.
Not only does it have gorgeous views...
... but there is also a dog hitching post...
... and chicken jerky for everyone.
We LOVE this spot!
Back on the AT, we ran into thru-hiker "Rock Steady" on his way to Maine.  He had started in Georgia last year and made it through Pennsylvania before an injury forced him off of the trail.  All recovered, he is now three days into continuing his thru-hike.  Not only did he stop to give the dogs scritches, but he had dog cookies for all!
Heading up to...
... the Sunrise Mountain pavilion where ...
... we ran into a blog follower who recognized Shawnee and had belly rubs for Sebastian.
Views of New Jersey from the pavilion.
Continuing north.
Leaving the AT to the left to take the brown/red Cartwright Trail.
We decided to road walk on Sunrise Mountain Road since our mileage was running long and this way would be a little shorter.
This lead us to an overlook that we would otherwise not have seen since we would not be driving this way.
High Point Monument from the overlook.
Didn't take Al long at all to catch on to the chicken jerky break concept.
It was while taking a break at this overlook that I flagged down a park ranger driving by and told him about the critter trapped in the well from earlier in the hike.
It's just a short distance farther on Sunrise Mountain Road before turning right on the yellow Tinsley Trail.
Then left on red/blue (which will eventually be just blue when the red markers are removed later this  year).
We apparently interrupted his lunch.
Just when we thought Al was getting the rock hop down...
... he took a flying leap to the right and yes, landed smack in the water again.
Blueberry Blossoms
Rejoining with green/brown...
... back to the parking lot.
Tired Hikers