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Short Loop Hike to the Top of the Tourne
This hike climbs to the top of the Tourne, with panoramic views.
Allowed on leash
Take Interstate Route 80 to Exit 43 (Mahwah/Morristown/I-287), then take Exit 43B onto Interstate Route 287 North. Take the first exit, Exit 43 (Intervale Road), and turn left at the top of the ramp. Cross over Route 287 and turn right at the traffic light onto Fanny Road. At a stop sign, reached in 0.9 mile, continue ahead, following the sign to “West Main Street,” then bear left at the next fork, following the sign for County Route 618. In 0.2 mile, turn left onto McCaffrey Lane and proceed for 0.3 mile to a large parking area for Tourne County Park on the right side of the road.
The 547-acre Tourne County Park is the only remaining undeveloped fragment of the Great Boonton Tract, purchased by David Ogden, Colonial Attorney-General of New Jersey, in 1739. The highlight of the park is the 897-foot-high Tourne, which is reached by the DeCamp Trail, a wide gravel road built over a century ago by Clarence Addington DeCamp, who owned much of the land now preserved as a park. Although the hike gains 300 feet in elevation in 0.6 mile, the grades are moderate (about 10% on average), and there are no steep climbs. It's a great destination for a short hike with the entire family.
You can pick up a trail map from the kiosk at the end of the parking area. Continue downhill along the paved McCaffrey Lane for about 500 feet. Just beyond a bridge over a stream, you'll notice a four-space parking area on the right side of the road. (You could actually drive to this point, but the very small parking area is often full). Turn right onto the Red Trail (marked by a triple-red blaze on a tree). You may wish to obtain a green self-guided trail booklet from a kiosk to the left.
The trail immediately passes through a gate in a chain-link fence (erected to protect the wildflowers from deer) and enters the Wildflower Trail area, maintained by volunteers from the Rockaway Valley Garden Club. Just beyond the gate, leave the Red Trail and turn right onto the Brookside Trail, which crosses Tourne Brook on a wooden bridge, parallels it for a short distance, then recrosses it on another bridge. Numbers on posts along the trail refer to descriptions in the self-guided trail booklet, and small signs identify many of the wildflowers and other plants and trees.
At a Y-intersection with the Fern Walk, bear right onto the Swamp Trail. Soon, you'll pass Denture Rock (marked as #7) - a rock with "teeth" formed of large quartz crystals - to the left. At the next intersection, turn right onto the Trillium Trail, bear right again at the junction with the Hepatica Loop, and climb to a junction with the Overlook Trail - a wide gravel road which is also the route of the Red Trail.
Turn right onto the gravel road, soon exiting the Wildflower Trail area via a gate in the fence. Just beyond, you'll reach a four-way junction. The road to the right will be your return route but, for now, continue ahead, still following the red blazes along the gravel road, which begins a moderate climb. Soon, a path leads downhill to the left, but you should continue ahead on the gravel road, passing interesting boulders on the hillside to the right.
At the next intersection, the Red Trail continues ahead, but you should bear right, following a sign to "Top of the Tourne." You're now on the unmarked DeCamp Trail, which continues to climb on a moderate grade, with many rock outcrops to the right.
Near the top of the climb, there is a view to the west over the Rockaway Valley, with Green Pond Mountain beyond. A bench has been placed here so you can rest from the climb and enjoy the view. The trail continues ahead and soon levels off.
A grassy clearing with picnic tables to the right (with a huge, nearly flat rock outcrop beyond) marks the high point of the Tourne. Continue ahead on the gravel road, which descends slightly to reach a panoramic viewpoint to the east, with the New York City skyline visible in the distance on a clear day. To the left, you'll notice a memorial to the tragic 9/11/01 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which was visible from this point.
After taking in the view, continue ahead on the wide gravel road, which now begins a steady descent. Follow the road downhill for about half a mile to a four-way junction at the base of the descent, where you should turn left onto the Red Trail (following the sign for the Wildflower Trail). You are now briefly retracing your steps. Go through the gate in the fence and enter the Wildflower Trail area, but when you reach junctions with the Trillium Trail and Hepatica Loop, which begin to the left, continue ahead on the wide Overlook Trail. After exiting the Wildflower Trail area, you'll come to the four-space parking area with the kiosk. If you've parked in the main parking area on the top of the hill, turn left and follow the paved road back to your car.