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Point Mountain Loop from Penwell Road
This loop hike follows mowed paths along cultivated fields, parallels the scenic Musconetcong River, and climbs to the summit of Point Mountain, with views of small towns, fertile farmland, and the Musconetcong River valley.
Allowed on leash
Take I-80 to Exit 26 (Budd Lake/Hackettstown) and proceed west on US 46 for 7.4 miles to Hackettstown. Turn left onto NJ 182 and follow it for 1.0 mile, then turn right onto NJ 57. Follow NJ 57 for 6.2 miles and turn left onto Penwell Road (at a sign for "Penwell"). Proceed for 0.4 mile to a bridge over the Musconetcong River. About 0.1 mile beyond the bridge, turn right onto a gravel driveway just before a stone house (the small park sign at this location is difficult to see) and continue uphill for about 0.2 mile to the parking area.
From the parking area, proceed south on the orange-blazed Ridge Trail, which follows a wide mowed path to the left of cultivated fields, with views of Point Mountain ahead in the distance. In about a third of a mile, where the orange-blazed trail turns left, continue ahead on the blue-blazed Riverwalk Trail. The blue-blazed trail turns right at the end of the field, follows along its southern end, then turns left and descends on a footpath to the Musconetcong River. After crossing a tributary stream, the trail widens to a woods road. When you reach a fork, bear right to continue along the blue-blazed trail.
In a third of a mile, the Riverwalk Trail reaches another fork. The trail ahead is also marked blue, but you should turn right, leaving the woods road, follow a footpath for 50 feet to the river, then turn left and proceed along the river, still following blue blazes. For the next half mile, the trail follows a footpath that closely parallels the scenic river, which features attractive cascades.
After passing a huge sycamore tree, the trail crosses Point Mountain Road and soon heads slightly inland, following a footpath through wild rose thickets. This trail section is often somewhat overgrown, although it is well blazed and relatively easy to follow. After approaching the river once more, the trail bears left, away from the river, and begins to run through a deciduous forest. Soon, the trail bears sharply left and begins to head northeast, paralleling Musconetcong River Road, visible through the trees to the right.
About two miles from the start, the Riverwalk Trail recrosses Point Mountain Road and enters a parking area on the east side of the road. Here, the trail turns right and begins to climb on a rocky footpath, reaching a trail junction in 250 feet. Continue ahead, uphill, now following the orange-blazed Ridge Trail. After the trail makes a sharp right turn, the climb steepens, and the trail continues to ascend on a rocky, rugged treadway, with rock and wood steps provided for part of the climb.
After bearing left in sight of a private home below to the right, the grade moderates, and the trail soon reaches a panoramic viewpoint over the Musconetcong River valley from a rock outcrop to the left of the trail. The tranquil view includes farms and small towns. This is a good place to take a break and rest from the climb – the one steep ascent on the hike.
The Ridge Trail now briefly descends to a junction with the yellow-blazed Overlook Trail. Here, it bears left and climbs to regain the ridge. Follow the orange-blazed trail as it continues along the ridge, with views through the trees on the left. Along the way, you’ll pass an interesting pointed rock on the left. After about half a mile of ridgetop walking, the trail bears right and descends slightly to parallel an old stone wall. Here, the White Trail begins on the right, but you should continue to follow the orange-blazed Ridge Trail, which turns left and climbs back to the ridge.
Soon, the trail begins a steady descent from the ridge. After crossing a stream, it turns left and follows a woods road downhill. Near the base of the descent, the White Trail goes off to the right. Continue ahead on the orange-blazed trail, which emerges onto a field and follows a mowed path along its left side. At the end of the field, it bears left and reaches a junction with the blue-blazed Riverwalk Trail, which begins on the left. Turn right and follow the orange-blazed trail along the right side of fields, retracing your steps to the Penwell Road parking area, where the hike began.