Blue Mountain Loop Trail - Southern Section


This hike loops around the northern section of Stokes State Forest, following woods roads and footpaths, and parallels a cascading stream.

6 hours
Easy to Moderate
10.5 miles
Route Type:
Allowed on leash
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First Published:

Daniel Chazin


Hiker on the Blue Mountain Loop Trail - Photo by Daniel Chazin


Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.185445 -74.796048
Driving Directions
Take I-80 to Exit 34B and continue north on NJ 15 for about 17 miles. When NJ 15 ends, continue ahead on US 206 North for 6.5 miles, turn right at a sign for Stokes State Forest, and park in the parking area just ahead.

This hike follows the southern section of the new Blue Mountain Loop Trail, blazed with a blue dot on white. This trail, constructed by the park in the summer of 2015, incorporates a number of pre-existing trails, and as of this writing, the old blazes remain.

From the parking area, proceed ahead on the paved Coursen Road that leads into the park, passing the toll booth. Just before a bridge over Tuttle Creek, you’ll see a sign on the right for the Blue Mountain Loop Trail (also the route of the black-on-white blazed Lackner Trail). Turn right onto the Blue Mountain Loop Trail, which follows a woods road parallel to the creek. In a third of a mile, follow the trail as it turns left, leaving the woods road, and crosses the creek on a wooden footbridge.

The trail now begins a gradual climb. At the crest of the rise, a clearing on the right features pitch pines growing out of cracks in a large expanse of open rocks. The trail begins to descend, soon passing on the left the trailhead of the Lead Mine Trail.

After passing an abandoned mine pit on the right, the trail approaches Stony Lake, which is visible through the trees on the right, and it passes on the right the trailhead of the Stony Lake Trail. A short distance beyond, the trail turns right onto paved Coursen Road and follows the road bridge over Stony Brook. Just beyond the bridge, it turns right and reenters the woods.

The trail crosses a parking area, passes a sign for the Stony Lake Day Use Area, and continues ahead. It soon reaches a fork, where it bears left, following the red-on-white-blazed Swenson Trail, which climbs gradually on a rocky woods road through an attractive mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. Upon reaching the top of a rise, it descends slightly and levels off, now passing through a largely deciduous forest, with an understory of mountain laurel and blueberry. 

About a mile from the parking area at Stony Lake, the trail crosses a stream on rocks, climbs briefly, and again levels off. Then, in another mile, you'll reach a T-intersection. Here, the yellow-blazed Tinsley Trail comes in from the right. You should turn left here, following yellow, blue-on-white, and red-on-white blazes along a woods road that descends rather steeply. In 500 feet, the blue-on-white and red-on-white blazes leave to the right, but you should continue ahead on the woods road, now following only the yellow blazes of the Tinsley Trail.  

In about half a mile, the Tinsley Trail joins a gravel road that comes in from the right (to the right, this road leads to the Spring Cabin). After a rather steep descent, you’ll pass the trailhead (on the right) of the Black Bear Trail, maintained by the New Jersey State School of Conservation. Continue ahead along the gravel road, marked for some distance with the blazes of the Purple Finch Trail (and also with the yellow blazes of the Tinsley Trail).

When you reach the paved Skellenger Road, turn left and follow the road. Just before reaching a fork in the road, turn left onto the blue-on-white-blazed Blue Mountain Loop Trail (the trail is also blazed with brown/green-on-white blazes). The trail follows a footpath past a tangled group of fallen trees and soon bears left onto a woods road. In about half a mile, the orange-blazed Silver Mine Trail begins on the left.

In 0.7 mile, the green-on-white blazes continue ahead, while the blue-on-white blazes turn left. Follow the blue-on-white blazes, which parallel a wide stone wall and continue on a footpath. Soon, the trail reaches Stony Brook, where it turns right and crosses the brook on a wooden footbridge.

For the next mile and a half, the Blue Mountain Loop Trail closely parallels the brook. This is the most beautiful section of the hike, with many cascades along the brook, especially when the water is high. A short distance ahead, the trail crosses Kittle Road, and about 500 feet beyond, Stony Brook merges with the Big Flat Brook. 

The trail follows the Big Flat Brook for over a mile until it reaches a wide wooden bridge on the right. Here, the trail turns left (away from the brook), follows a dirt road through fields, and passes the dam of a pond on the left. The trail now climbs gradually on a gravel road for a third of a mile. You’re less than half a mile away from Route 206, and you can hear the sound of the traffic on the road below.

At a fork at the crest of the rise, bear left onto an intersecting road, then almost immediately turn right and follow the blue-on-white blazes into the woods. The trail continues on a footpath along the shoulder of the ridge for about a mile.

After crossing two branches of a road that leads into the Shotwell Camping Area, the Blue Mountain Loop Trail continues along the Tibbs Trail, marked with blue/green-on-white blazes. It crosses stepping stones over the outlet of a large unnamed pond on the left, continues parallel to the shore of the pond, then climbs rather steeply on a woods road.

At the crest of the rise, the Blue Mountain Loop Trail turns right and continues to climb more gradually on a woods road, which soon narrows to a footpath. After a level section, the trail descends to Tuttle Creek. It turns left and continues along the creek to Coursen Road. Turn right, cross the road bridge over the creek, and continue along Coursen Road to the parking lot. where the hike began.

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

hike variant

I did a variant of this hike today (9/2/16). First of all, a couple of corrections to the original writeup. At the very beginning, the normally infallible Mr. Chazin makes a mistake - The last sentence of the 2nd paragraph of the description should read "In a third of a mile, follow the trail as it turns left [not right], leaving the woods road, and crosses the creek on a wooden footbridge." In the last paragraph of the description, Mr. Chazin indicates that the Blue Mountain Loop officially crosses the creek, and he adds that, if the water is high, you should continue ahead along the north bank of the creek to Coursen Road and use the road bridge for the creek-crossing. Evidently, enough people had a problem with this creek-crossing that the trail was officially moved so that it now follows the north bank until it meets the road.   OK, with that out of the way, let me enthuse about the hike that I did. My route (a total of about 10.5 miles, done in about 4.25 hours) was to follow the Blue Mountain Loop until Stony Lake, and then veer off to circle the pond itself, after which I went to visit the Silver Mine, rejoining the Blue Mountain Loop at the northeastern terminus of the Silver Mine Trail to continue with the end of the loop described by Mr. Chazin. I confess to being something of a nut about old mines, so I was interested in the remains of the mine (presumably lead) along the Lachner Trail - the moderately sized pit to the right of the trail (about a third of the way between the intersection with the Lead Mine Trail and the northeastern end of the Lachner Trail), and what looked to me like a smaller such pit on the right at about the two-thirds mark of this stretch of the trail. Once I figured out that the brown-blazed trail Stony Brook Trail leading north from Stony Lake had been re-routed since the 2012 version of the NY/NJ Trail Conference map 122 came out, I followed it to Stony Brook Falls (a very pleasant walk along the brook, culminating in a beautiful falls), after which I turned right onto the Silver Mine Trail.  For those not familiar with this, the actual silver mine entrance is on a very short spur (still blazed as the Silver Mine Trail) that leads downhill from the main trail to the grated-over shaft entrance, although there is clear evidence of other mining activity in the area. Once you return to the main part of the trail, the other item of note is part of a concrete wall and some large trenches to the left of the trail about three-quarters of a mile past the start of the spur trail to the mine. I initially guessed that this might also be associated with mining activity, but a little on-line research yielded the information that, though the same person (John Snook) who ran the silver mine also built this other feature, it turns out that it was the first part of a dam for a projected lakeshore resort, which ran afoul of the Great Depression. At the end of the Silver Mine Trail, I returned to the "official" hike. Certainly the most picturesque part of this was the rather lengthy walk along Stony Brook and Big Flat Brook. I will say the I can imagine that the western end of this could be a bit tricky in high-water times, given the multitudinous crossing of brook tributaries. Overall, a really great hike!

Hike description has been updated

Thanks again for your comments!  Yes, my description did contain an error (near the start, the trail turns left, not right, to cross the footbridge over the stream).  I have corrected the error.  Also, you are correct that, largely due to the efforts of represenatives of the Trail Conference, the end of the loop has been rerouted to stay on the same side of the creek, thus permitting you to use the road bridge to cross the creek.  So I have updated this, too.  Finally, the old blazes of the former trails remain along the Blue Mountain Loop Trail, and they can be expected to stay there indefinitely. I have deleted a statement that they would be taken down this past summer.