|Distinct summits attained||7|
I generally followed Daniela's route (but without the continuation). Parked in the Gordon Rd parking lot at (40.9099, -74.6170). A few yards up the trail is a crossroads at which I went left. It's a woods road, steadily uphill, rough but not difficult. About 0.34 mile further at (40.9131, -74.6221), there is a Y at which I went right. I continued following the road uphill until it began to pass the summit. Then I left the road at (40.9188, -74.6253) and bushwhacked 0.22 mile up to the summit. Nothing to see at the summit. I returned the same way. Total distance was 2.42 miles and elapsed time was 1:22.
This was super easy. Parked on a wooded stretch of Durham Rd. beyond the last houses but before Camp Marcella (40.990388, -74.457210). From this point, it was 0.36 mi to the summit. Didn't see any trails or woods roads until the last few yards but bushwhacking was easy because it is gently uphill and there is just about no understory because of the deer. There are a ton of old stone walls up there indicating this was once farm land. It took 27 min. r.t.
I parked on October Hill Rd and took a gravel road starting at (41.030728, -74.468543) This follows a powerline and is uphill and rocky. After about 290 yd, you reach a crossroads at (41.028680, -74.466970) with a woods road that goes along the top of the ridge. I turned right (south) and followed it about 0.85 mi to the Green Pond Mountain summit. Very easy walking. The autumn leaves were in full color and the weather was perfect so it was a really nice outing. After reaching the summit, I continued on 0.47 mi to a rock outcropping that overlooks Green Pond Lake (41.016455, -74.486452). What a beautiful view! There was a campfire ring there so other people have used it too. After hanging around a while, I returned the same way I came.
The gravel woods road continues on beyond the crossroads. It goes over the ridge and down the other side. About 165 yd beyond the crossroads at (41.027343, -74.467308), the white-blazed Four Birds trail comes in from the north. It follows the gravel road for 140 yd and then at (41.026341, -74.468018) it departs and goes downhill where it crosses Green Pond Rd. So if you want to take the Four Birds trail to Green Pond Mountain, take it to the gravel road under the powerline, go up over the ridge to the crossroads, and then turn left (south).
Took the white-blazed Four Birds trail from Greenpond Rd. Although it's shorter coming down from Bigelow Rd, it was a nice day and I had never been on this section of Four Birds. Parked at the little pulloff along the road (41.030127, -74.453980). The trail is easy, beautifully maintained, and well marked. Thank you NYNJTC. It's about 2.3 mi to Mt. Newfoundland. There are some lovely views to the east along the way. As the trail passes near the summit, there is an ATV track that branches off to the left (41.042545, -743457469) and goes within 100 feet of the summit. Not much to see at the summit.
I had planned to continue on to Greenpond Mountain but ran out of time and so just returned the way I had come. Along the way an NSA surveillance drone disguised as a turkey vulture flew very close overhead checking me out. Very realistic.
Mt. Kanouse is at the south end of a long ridge running N-S. There is a nice trail along the top of the ridge. The issue for hikers is how to get up to the top of the ridge. There are several ways, one from the east starting at the Newark Watershed Office parking lot which requires a bushwhack, and a trail from the west starting at the end of Kanouse Rd. I chose the latter because it looked a little shorter on the map and goes through a swamp which I judged would be more interesting.
Left my car there and started out. The trail was wide and easy and went through marsh habitat loaded with frogs, snapping turtles, and water fowl. Then it went through deciduous hardwood forest. The rocky trail was continuously gently uphill. At a trail junction (41.05792, -74.420354) you turn right to go uphill. A little while later, although the trail was clearly marked on my official NY/NJ Trails Conference map as going all the way to the top of the ridge, it petered out. I had to bushwhack the last 160 yards up the side of the ridge.
Once at the top of the ridge, it was pretty much a piece of cake. It was about 1 mile gently upwards along the ridge trail to the views at the top. Although there were amateurish red blazes, they were too far apart to navigate by. It didn't matter. You couldn't get lost.
There were horseshoe tracks and manure all along the way, probably from the Echo Lake Stables down below to the east which advertises trail riding among its services. A wild turkey voiced its objections to my transit.
There are good views toward the SE including the NYC skyline from a subpeak (41.044032, -74.418257) before you get to the summit.
Slightly beyond the summit someone erected a large 5-pointed star on the edge of the cliff visible from Rt. 23. I went all the way to the star (41.039791, -74.424183).
It was a beautiful sunny day and the visibility was superb. Mt. Kanouse is 464 ft above the reservoir, i.e. REALLY high. From the star, you could see the entire reservoir as if you were looking down on it from Google satellite view. Smoke Rise was to the southeast. The NYC skyline was sharp in the distance. Rt 23 far below had little toy cars whizzing along it. It was amazing.
At one point, I saw with my binoculars a huge hawk in the distance flying over the reservoir which might have been an immature bald eagle from the nest near there (immys don't get their white head feathers until their 4th year.) Later a black vulture swooped and soared in the distance coming ever closer until finally it curled around and flew not 10 feet over my head causing me to duck. Then, losing interest, it soared away.
After lingering a long while at the star -- the views were so awesome I didn't want to leave -- I returned uneventfully. The entire trip was 5.02 miles.
Buck Mountain Trip Report
I had been wanting to go to Buck Mountain for some time. Charlettesberg Reservoir is a beautiful spot and I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bald Eagles that nest in the area.
So off I went on Jan 6, a cold winter day. I was carrying plenty of water and about 20 lb of camera equipment (in case of eagles). There was some patchy snow on the ground but the higher elevations were mostly clear. Before starting, I went up to the Newark Watershed Conservation And Development Corporation (NWCDC) office several miles up Echo Lake Rd from Rt. 23. There I bought a hiking permit for the area. They say it's patrolled although I have hiked around there often and never come upon a patrol. Still for $6 (senior rate) for the entire year, it's good insurance.
I parked in the parking area on the south side of Rt. 23 at Echo Lake Rd. [Location: 41.033839, -74.422136] and walked south about 0.17 mi to Old Rt 23. Then I turned left and walked about 0.13 mi SE to an old historic-looking house on the left that desperately needed a coat of paint. The yellow gate [41.029886, -74.421709] across the street is the top of Timberbrook/Winnebago Rd. The gate is plastered with No Trespassing signs. Armed with my hiking permit, I passed the gate and started down the road.
The road is gravel and the walking was easy although there were a few slippery icy patches. Soon I came to a wide bridge [41.02820, -74.42228] over the Pequannock River.
Now you have a choice. I went one way going, the other way coming back. If you continue on down Winnebago Rd the views of the reservoir on your right are fantastic. However, there is a high ridge on your left that eventually you will have to climb and there are no trails of any kind nor any footprints of humans. It's high and steep and was a challenge carrying a 25 lb pack. When I was there, the leaves were wet and there were icy patches making it treacherous. It wasn't an easy bushwhack and you don't want to try it if you're not fit. I only went as far as even with the summit, so I can't guarantee there isn't a way up further down.
On the way I came upon a family of four black bears. My friends in Smoke Rise warned me the area is loaded with them and they were right. I pulled out my buck knife and muttered "Come on, punk, make my day" and they loped off.
The other way is to cut off to the left about 230 yds south of the bridge. Although there were no human footprints, it's obviously a well-used deer trail. From there, bushwhack ESE about 1/4 mile and you'll pick up an old dirt road/ATV track [41.024554, -74.418356]. If you take a right, the road goes south behind the ridge you would have had to climb. I didn't go left but it appeared to go towards the end of Green Hill Rd in Smoke Rise.
Follow that road about 1/2 mile and you'll be even with the Buck Mountain summit 100 feet above you [41.020749, -74.409529]. Now you do have to climb and there are no trails. I was disappointed that even with no leaves on the trees there were no particularly good views from the summit [41.02050, -74.4178]. There are however some nice views toward the north and east from atop a rock [41.021649, -74.418372] just north of the summit.
After hanging around a while, it was getting late and I didn't want to be out after dark with all the ice and snow on the decent so I returned by the easy way. The entire trip was 3.09 miles and took 2:05. I need to emphasize there are no trails other than Winnebago Rd and the one ATV track. I was bushwhacking most of the way. There are deer tracks and deer scat everywhere and bear tracks also. I saw one track in the snow I thought was a bobcat too.
Bowling Green Mountain
My hiking buddy, Jerry, and I headed up to the top of Bowling Green Mountain on July 15, 2010. A nice warm sunny afternoon.
We parked at the Jefferson Township Middle School on Weldon Rd [Location: 41.015640,-74.554821, Altitude: 960'] and walked about 0.1 mile down to the entrance of the old Snow Bowl ski area, now abandoned (http://www.skiernet.com/snow-bowl.html ). It's still nice looking and it's fun to imagine the fun and bustle it must have had in its heyday.
Looking up, you can see a radio tower on the top of the hill. That is very close to our destination and it's waa...y up there.
We walked up to the rear of the open ski area and found a ski trail that goes uphill. Following the trail, after about 1/2 mile of aerobic walking, we came to the top of the ski lift [Location: 41.008858, -74.553598]. The concrete foundations and cable weights are still there but there is no trace of the rest of the lift.
After a brief rest and exploration we continued on uphill to the radio tower [Location: 41.007572, -74.551626]. From there a short trail on the left goes to the Bowling Green summit [Location: 41.00770, -74.5498, Altitude: 1180']. There is a small clearing but otherwise it's uninteresting. There are no views.
From there, we continued on the trail to the east about 0.5 mile to the Milton Firetower [Location: 41.008670, -74.540560]. Now THAT is interesting. A 60-foot steel tower that stretches far above the trees. You can climb up to the cramped 7'x7' cab at the top. The climb is a little scary since it's very high, the steps are steep, and everything is open so you can see how high you are. It's worth it though. From the top the views are incredible in all directions. They say you can see a fire tower in New York state from there.
The total hike was about 4 miles round-trip and we thought it was well worth it. Make sure you go on a clear day and bring your binoculars.