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Iron Mines at Mount Hope
This loop hike, through pleasant second-growth woods, follows old woods roads past numerous mine openings of the abandoned Mount Hope Mines.
Allowed on leash
Views, Historic feature
Take I-80 to Exit 35 (eastbound) or Exit 35B (westbound) and proceed north on Mount Hope Avenue. In 0.5 mile, turn left onto Richard Mine Road. Continue for 0.7 mile and turn right onto Coburn Road (which becomes Teabo Road). The park entrance is 0.7 mile ahead on the left.
Known locally as the Richard Mine, Mount Hope Historical Park was once a booming iron mining and processing site. It forms a part of the original Mount Hope Tract, first developed by John Jacob Faesch in 1772. Over the course of the years, three separate veins of ore – each of which runs in a southwesterly-to-northeasterly direction – were mined on the property. The property was divided into three ownerships, which operated the Teabo, Allen, and Richard mines, respectively. During World War II, the eastern end of the site was developed as the New Leonard Mining Complex – a state-of-the-art mining and ore-processing complex that produced 5,600,000 tons of ore by 1950. Mining operations in the area ended in 1958 (they were briefly revived in October 1977, but were abandoned just four months later), and the park was opened in 1997. Second-growth woodlands have reforested the areas that once were cleared for mining operations.
From the trailhead at the east end of the parking area (at a kiosk and a sign for the “Richard Mine), follow an unmarked trail up a switchback to a trail junction under power lines. Turn left onto the Red Loop Trail, which passes many open mine pits and piles of mine tailings. After crossing a seasonal stream, the pits of the Teabo #2 Mine – opened in the 1850s and abandoned by 1883 – may be seen to the left in about a quarter mile.
About 400 feet beyond the last mine pit, turn sharply right at a double blaze, leaving the mine road, and follow the Red Loop Trail in a counter-clockwise direction through second-growth woodlands, with an understory of blueberry bushes. This section of the trail departs from the main ore vein, so no mine pits are visible until a T-intersection is reached in another half a mile. Turn right here onto the Orange Loop Trail, which passes several small mine pits. In a quarter of a mile, follow the Orange Loop Trail as it turns right onto a narrower woods road and soon begins to descend. Then, in 650 feet – with a stream directly ahead – the trail turns left and continues to descend.
About 1.5 miles from the start of the hike, the trail reaches a T-intersection and turns left. Just beyond, the trail passes the remnants of the Richard #6 Mine, opened in 1897. Several mine pits and stone foundations may be seen to the left of the trail. In another 500 feet, a rail across the trail marks the site of the Richard #2 Mine – one of New Jersey’s most productive mines in the 1880s.
After crossing under power lines, follow the Orange Loop Trail as it bears left, leaving the wide woods road it has been following. The trail soon widens to a woods road and passes the stone foundations of several homes. Just beyond, the trail turns right under the power lines, then immediately turns left onto a rocky woods road. After a short climb, the trail passes six shafts of the Allen Mine, first opened in the 1830s (the mine openings are atop a low ridge about 75 feet to the left of the trail).
Just beyond, you’ll reach a junction where the Orange Loop Trail ends. Continue ahead, now following the Red Loop Trail, which passes several more trenches and mine pits of the Allen Mine to the left. Note the protruding iron bars, which were used to anchor machinery needed to operate the mines. One of the pits, known as the Smoke Stack Shaft, was excavated in the 1850s to provide ventilation for the Allen Tunnel, which extended south to Teabo Road. (The tunnel itself is no longer visible.) As the trail swings to the left, a huge pit of the Allen Mine may be seen to the right of the trail.
Just beyond, you’ll reach the start of the loop of the Red Loop Trail. Continue ahead, following the Red Loop Trail back to the trail junction under the power lines, then turn right and continue to the parking area where the hike began.