Hike of the Week
Courtesy of the NY-NJ Trail Conference
WHERE: Norvin Green State Forest
MAP: North Jersey Trails, Map #21. , Published by the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
FEATURES: This hike passes two attractive waterfalls and climbs Carris Hill, with a broad panorama to the east over the Wanaque Reservoir.
LENGTH: 4.5 miles.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to strenuous (may involve difficult stream crossings).
TIME: About three and one-half hours.
STARTING POINT:Take Interstate Route 287 to Exit 53 (Bloomingdale) and turn left onto Hamburg Turnpike. Upon entering Bloomingdale, the name of the road changes to Main Street. In 1.3 miles (from Route 287), you will reach a fork in the road. Bear right (following the sign to West Milford), and in another 0.1 mile, turn right (uphill) onto Glenwild Avenue. Continue ahead for 3.2 miles to a parking area on the right side of the road just past the "Welcome to West Milford" sign.
From the eastern end of parking area, at the sign "Welcome to Bloomingdale," follow the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail, which heads north and descends to Posts Brook at Otter Hole, an attractive cascade and waterfall. Here the trail crosses the brook on large boulders. Be alert, as the trail is not well marked at the brook crossing, and the crossing can be a little tricky, especially when the water is high.
Just beyond the brook, the green-blazed Otter Hole Trail leaves to the left, and the Hewitt-Butler Trail is joined by the Highlands Trail, with teal diamond blazes. Continue ahead, following the blue and teal diamond blazes along a rocky woods road. When you reach the next Y intersection, take the right fork. The trail continues to ascend for a short distance, and then begins a steady descent.
After about half a mile, the trail turns left, leaving the broad woods road that it has been following, and continues to descend. Soon, the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail joins from the right. The two trails run together for only a short distance, and the yellow trail almost immediately departs to the left. You should continue ahead on the blue-blazed trail (also blazed with teal diamonds), which descends more gradually and soon levels off, crossing a wet area.
Just beyond, the trail approaches Posts Brook, crosses a tributary stream, and reaches a junction with the white-blazed Posts Brook Trail. The blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail leave to the left, but you should continue ahead on the white trail, which closely parallels the stream, passing a series of scenic cascades. In about 750 feet, the trail reaches the top of Chikahoki Falls and descends steeply alongside the falls. At the base of the falls, the trail crosses the brook. Although stepping stones have been placed in the brook to facilitate the crossing, these stones may be covered with water when the brook is running high. It may be possible to cross (with care) using a log which spans the brook just downstream of the trail crossing.
When you reach the opposite side of the brook, take a good look at the falls, which are best viewed from this spot. Then follow the white-blazed trail, which bears left and heads east on a rocky woods road. Bear right at a fork in the road, and soon you will come to another brook crossing. In times of high water, this crossing is the most difficult, and you may have to wade through several inches of water. If you're not wearing high, waterproof boots, be prepared to get your feet wet!
A short distance beyond this stream crossing, at a large boulder, you'll come to a junction with the Lower Trail, also blazed white. Turn left here, and follow the Lower Trail along the fence of the Wanaque Reservoir for 0.1 mile to a junction with the yellow-blazed Carris Hill Trail. At this junction, turn left, now following the yellow blazes.
After traversing a level, rocky area, the Carris Hill Trail crosses a stream and begins a rather steep climb. The grade soon moderates, but after a third of a mile, it again climbs steeply over rocks, coming out at a viewpoint to the southeast from a rock outcrop.
It continues to climb to another rock outcrop, with a somewhat broader view. Here, the trail bears right and ascends to the left of a 40-foot-high massive rock face. At the top of the ascent, a short detour to the right leads to a magnificent viewpoint to the east. The Wanaque Reservoir, contained by the Raymond and Green Swamp dams, is in the foreground,
with a long viaduct of Interstate Route 287 clearly visible in the distance. This is a good place to pause and enjoy the spectacular view.
The yellow trail now climbs more gradually, soon reaching another viewpoint, where a ten-foot-high balanced glacial erratic is silhouetted against the sky. The trail curves to the right and reaches a fifth viewpoint, this one to the south, which also features a large glacial erratic. It proceeds through laurel to end, on a rock outcrop with views to the north and west, at a junction with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail.
Turn left here, and follow the joint Hewitt-Butler/Highlands Trail to the southeast. After reaching another large rock outcrop, the trail begins a steady descent through blueberries and mountain laurel, finally leveling off on a woods road. It soon reaches the junction with the white-blazed Posts Brook Trail which you encountered earlier in the hike. Turn right at this
junction, and follow the blue and teal diamond blazes westward, retracing the first part of the hike. After about a mile, the teal diamond blazes leave to the right. Continue ahead on the blue-blazed trail, cross Posts Brook on boulders, and you'll soon reach the parking area on Glenwild Avenue where you started the hike.
Hike of the Week is provided by Daniel Chazin of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC). The trail conference is a volunteer organization that builds and maintains 1,600 miles of hiking trails and publishes a library of hiking maps and books, including a two-map set for North Jersey Trails ($8.95) and the New Jersey Walk Book ($19.95).
The office is at 156 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah. Phone: (201) 512-9348, Website: nynjtc.org.
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