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Flat Rock Brook Loop Hike #1
This loop hike runs along a cascading stream and wetland and passes by a broad overlook.
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Take N.J. Route 4 to the Jones Road exit in Englewood. Turn right at the top of the ramp, and continue to the first stop sign, which is Van Nostrand Avenue. Turn right onto Van Nostrand Avenue and continue past the "dead end" sign to the nature center at the top of the hill.
At the rear entrance to the nature center, opposite the sign for the “Children’s Garden,” three white blazes mark the start of the White Loop Trail. Follow the White Loop Trail on an easy grade uphill to a meadow, where the Purple Trail crosses, and continue ahead on the White Loop Trail. The Purple Trail ends on the right just before you reach a T-intersection. Turn left at the T-intersection and follow white and blue blazes along a wide path. Soon, the Purple Trail joins from the left and then leaves to the right.
At the next Y-intersection, bear left onto the White Loop Trail, as the Blue Loop Trail continues straight ahead. Then, at the next junction, turn left onto the Red Loop Trail, and you will immediately arrive at an overlook to the southwest. Although it cannot be seen, I-95 is below you (you can hear the sounds of the traffic). On a clear day, you can see the First Watchung Mountain in the distance.
Now retrace your steps to the junction and continue straight ahead on the joint Red and White Loop Trails. When the White Loop Trail leaves to the left, continue ahead on the Red Loop Trail. At the next intersection, the Blue Loop Trail is to the right, but you should follow the sign to the “bridge” and continue ahead on the Red Loop Trail, which now begins a gentle descent.
When you reach the next Y-intersection, bear right onto the Yellow Trail, which continues to descend a little more steeply, then levels off. Be alert for a sharp right turn in the Yellow Trail, adjacent to a yellow “B.C.U.A.” sign. Here, the Green Loop Trail joins. Continue ahead on the joint Yellow and Green Loop Trails, which cross Flat Rock Brook on large boulders. On the other side of the brook, the Yellow Trail turns right, but you should turn left and follow the Green Loop Trail.
Continue along the Green Loop Trail as it parallels the brook, with private residences beyond a fence on the right. Soon the brook widens into MacFadden’s Wetland, named for the physical culturist Bernarr MacFadden (1868-1955), who lived nearby about 1930.
At the end of the wetland, cross a wooden bridge over a concrete dam. This bridge is known as the “Mystery Bridge” because it mysteriously appeared over one weekend. On the opposite side of the bridge, turn right onto the Red Loop Trail. Just below the bridge, you may observe attractive cascades if the water level in the brook is high.
Continue ahead downhil on the Red Loop Trail. At first, the trail has been routed away from the brook, but it soon moves closer to the brook and descends wooden steps. This is the most scenic portion of the hike, with the brook tumbling over rocks to your right. Beyond the steps, the trail levels off and continues to run alongside the brook.
When you reach a junction where the Orange Trail begins, turn left and continue to follow the Red Loop Trail, which soon begins a steady ascent. At the top of the climb, turn right onto the wide White Loop Trail, and continue ahead to the paved road. With the Nature Center building directly in front of you, turn left to return to the parking area where you began the hike.