Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tamarack Park, NJ

Tamarack Park and C.O. Johnson Park - Byram Township Parks

GPS Coordinates 40.96961, -74.71488
Parking at C.O. Johnson Park
I had intended to park at Jones Lane off of Route 206 (40.95952, -74.73762), the other end of the Tamarack Trail, but the entrance was barricaded with concrete barriers and orange barrels.  Even though that parking lot is shown on the map, it is apparently not yet completed according to this article.

Tamarack Park Trail - Byram Township
Byram Township Trail Guide - Byram Township

HIKE DISTANCE:  5.5 miles

First I wanted to explore the old rail bed/tunnel the other side of C.O. Johnson Park.  Heading down the steps from the parking lot, or avoiding them, whichever the case might be.
There is a paved path around the park so I started to the right on that.
Then veered to the right over to a gravel path.
This leads to another parking lot and between two boulders off of that lot, a path!
Looking from the path back into the parking lot.
Some railroad remnants,
Pink Lady's Slipper
I believe this would be the top of the tunnel but hard to see anything with all of the leaves on the trees.
The path continues.
It leads to the rail bed where you turn left.
And that takes you to... (make note of the trail on the right)
The tunnel!  Call me a big chicken but there were all kinds of noises coming out of that tunnel at 6AM and it was pitch black in there so I opted not to try to go through it.
No complaints from her.
Remember that side trail?  It is actually marked with a silver blaze on a log.  Hoping that goes around the tunnel.
It did indeed go around the tunnel and it's a very nice trail.  (Not on maps anywhere that I could find.)
It even skirts a little pond on the right which is hard to see in the picture.
We started this hike at 5:45 AM in an attempt to beat the heat forecast for Memorial Day weekend.  It was already in the upper 60's so somebody was lagging behind.
This might be the other end of the tunnel looking down the rail bed if there were no trees.
A footpath continues...
... back around to that second parking lot in the park.  This turned out to be about a 1.3 mile loop.
Nobody was around so we cut across the field back to the lot where we parked.
Walk out the parking lot drive to Roseville Road, veer to the right then turn left...
... on to the Tamarack Trail.
Looking back at C.O. Johnson Park from the start of the Tamarack Trail.
We took more water breaks on this hike than ever before.  I don't expect her to handle heat so well at her age so I was watching very closely and giving her lots of drinks.
Johnson Lake comes into view.
See that teeny, tiny island way over at the other side of Johnson Lake?  Wonder what I would find there if I zoomed in.
Much more than I ever imagined!  A swan family complete with baby, a black bird and a Great Blue Heron, all hanging out.  (I could see the adult swans and the black bird through the lens but had no idea about the rest until I uploaded the picture!)
The trail will fork, keep left.  (Right goes to where I wanted to park but could not and also connects to Allamuchy Mountain State Park.)  Then watch for a short out-and-back side trail on the left that leads out into lake on a strip of land.
The trail ends at flat rock.
Mountain Laurel ready to bloom.
Back on the main Tamarack Trail, continue left then at the paved road, again left.
It's only a short distance on paved road to...
... Tamarack Road where you turn left a short distance, then right at Indian Springs Road...
... with the Cranberry Overlook Trail entrance right at the intersection.
Looking back at the intersection from the Cranberry Overlook Trail.
This trail is a little more rugged and steeper than the Tamarack Trail.
Coming up on Cranberry Overlook.
Cranberry Lake Overlook
Cranberry Lake
A bunch of birds flew by and landed in the only tree that still had buds and no leaves so I got a ton of pictures of themn.
Cedar Waxwings!  They never disappoint always posing so pretty.
Down below in Cranberry Lake, zoom in to another swan family with twins or triplets.
Canada geese flying over the Delaware Water Gap, barely visible through the haze on the horizon.
Heading back.
He only gave me one nanosecond to shoot and I got him - Pileated Woodpecker.
A short distance ahead, same one or another?  Whichever, I was also allotted one nanosecond for taking his picture.
The end of the Cranberry Overlook Trail, turning left back to the Tamarack Trail.
This is actually a connector trail back to the Tamarack Trail.
I did not like the looks of this water but I wanted her to get wet and cool down so I just had to make sure she did not go in too far.
Johnson Lake on the way back.
At the end of the Tamarack Trail, back at C.O. Johnson Park.
She made it in the heat!
Thank goodness we left early and finished early because any hotter and that would not have been good for Shawnee at all.