Pequannock Knob Loop via Blue and Yellow Trails

Overview

This loop hike climbs to a panoramic viewpoint over northern New Jersey and the New York City skyline.

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
2.5 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Morris
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
01/04/2012

Updated/Verified:
06/19/2016
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Northern New Jersey and the New York City Skyline. Photo by Daniel Chazin.

Parking


View Mountainside Park, Pequannock, NJ in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
40.971152, -74.325497
Driving Directions
Take I-287 South to Exit 52 (Riverdale/Wayne/Butler) and bear left at the fork to continue on NJ 23 South. In 0.6 mile, turn right onto County Alt. 511, then immediately turn right again onto West Parkway. In 0.7 mile, turn right onto Mountain Avenue, and continue for 0.9 mile (passing under I-287) to a dead-end at the parking area for Mountainside Park.
Description

From the kiosk at the northern end of the parking area, climb wooden steps, following the joint route of the Blue and Yellow Trails. Almost immediately, the Yellow Trail goes off to the left. This will be your return route, but continue ahead on the Blue Trail, which first parallels the noisy I-287, but soon bears left, away from the highway, and climbs the hillside. After passing a rock outcrop on the right, you’ll reach a T-intersection with the Red Trail.

The footbridge over the stream on the Yellow Trail. Photo by Daniel Chazin.Turn right, now following both blue and red blazes, and descend, soon reaching another T-intersection. Here, the Red Trail turns right, but you should turn left to continue on the Blue Trail, which climbs a little to reach a limited east-facing viewpoint (when there are no leaves on the trees) from a rock outcrop on the right. The trail dips down, climbs to another seasonal viewpoint, then descends steadily.

After crossing a stream on rocks, you’ll come to a junction where the Orange Trail begins on the left. Continue ahead on the Blue Trail, which follows a contour around a hill, once again approaching I-287, but soon swings away from it. Soon, you’ll reach another junction, where the Orange Trail joins from the left. Turn right, following both blue and orange blazes, and cross a wooden footbridge over a stream, then immediately turn left, continuing to follow the Blue Trail, as the Orange Trail proceeds straight ahead.

The Blue Trail climbs steeply, paralleling the edge of a ravine, with cascades in the stream below. It then turns right, passing a shelter on the left, and crosses a gravel road (the route of the Orange Trail) diagonally to the left. A short distance beyond, the Blue Trail bears left and begins a steady, steep climb. A short level section provides a brief respite, but the trail soon resumes its steep climb.

The bench at the summit of Pequannock Knob and the east-facing view from the summit. Photo by Daniel Chazin.

As the trail approaches the top of Pequannock Knob, it turns sharply left. Here, a rock outcrop just off the trail to the right offers an unobstructed panoramic view over northern New Jersey, with the New York City skyline visible on the horizon. After climbing some more, you’ll reach the summit of the knob, where the Blue Trail ends. Benches placed on either side of the summit invite you to rest and enjoy the spectacular views. To the east, you can see the New York City skyline, and Cedar Crest Village (a retirement community) is visible below to the west.

When you’re ready to continue, descend from the summit on the Yellow Trail, which begins by going down rather steeply, then turns left at the point of a switchback and continues to descend more moderately. At the base of the descent, you’ll cross a dirt road (the route of the Orange Trail), but continue ahead on the Yellow Trail. Soon the Orange Trail joins from the right, and you should continue ahead, now following both yellow and orange blazes.

The trail now descends along the edge of a ravine, with a stream below to the right. This tranquil, peaceful setting is far removed from the traffic on I-287! The trail turns right to cross the stream on a wooden footbridge and climbs steadily to the crest of a rise. Here, the Orange Trail leaves to the right, but you should bear left to continue on the Yellow Trail.

The Yellow Trail descends gradually, passing between a rock outcrop on the left and a vernal pond on the right, then crosses the outlet of the pond. Just beyond, the Red Trail joins from the right, and you should continue ahead, following both yellow and red blazes.

After descending some more, the Red Trail turns off to the left. You should bear right to continue along the Yellow Trail, which climbs to skirt a huge rock outcrop and then descends through a valley. After passing a dramatic cliff on the right, the Yellow Trail ends at the trailhead parking area where the hike began.


To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.

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

Won't soon forget this one.

Did this hike April 28, 2013 in the late morning.  No problem with the trail markings.  Some damage from the recent storms, but crews obviously worked on it recently.  All was well.  Yes, the last part of the blue trail is very steep before you reach the summit and the kiosk, but it is moderate overall.  The descent on the yellow trail will be one we remember forever.  It leaves the summit in a southwest direction, then curves back to the northwest before a sharp left switchback to southwest again.  Right after the switchback we encountered what we are entirely certain was a timber rattlesnake, perhaps four or more feet long, on the left side of the trail.  He expressed his displeasure with us, but let us pass without incident.  A few yards further there was a different snake – black and about 18 inches long -- sunning himself on a log, also on the left side.  He darted off into the brush as we went by.   Just a thought, but the conference might want to consider doing a larger-scale inset of this park on the next 125 map.  I think it is potentially popular and the network of trails is complex for the small area of the park, and the current scale shows none of the landmarks.  The Pequannock Township Parks web page has a map that was done as an Eagle Scout project that has most, but not all, of the landmarks and most, but not all, of the trails.  I didn't see the link on this page to the conference's park map dedicated to this park, which is the best of all, but there are still a landmarks that could be added.  Seems like every summer the scouts add something new.

Map change suggestion

Watch out for those snakes!Thanks for the map suggestion regarding inclusion of a larger-scale inset of this park.  We will keep it in mind when we work on a revision to the Jersey Highlands: Central North Region map set!~Jeremy, TC cartographer

Hiked this trail today, very

Hiked this trail today, very poorly maintained.  It is a strenous hike and should be noted as such. Did see a bear though which was pretty cool.

Mountainside Park

Mountainside Park is newly adopted by the NYNJTC, and our team of volunteers has done wonders in reblazing and refurbishing as conditions required. I'm sure that the only trail that you found in need of Maintenance was the section of the Blue Trail as it climbed Pequannock Knob. We have a newly appointed volunteer to care for this section and we're aware that it needs clipping and extensive rebuilding to bring it to "NYNJTC Standards", but it is well marked and easy to follow.  As to your other comment, it's true that this trail system has numerous "up's and down's", as one traverses this glaciated landscape, but most hikers would consider it "Moderate", and I think that difficulty rating is appropriate for a hiker in reasonably good health.     Glad that you enjoyed our Bear.