Turkey Mountain Loop #2

Overview

This loop hike follows woods roads and footpaths up Turkey Mountain, passing remains of old quarries and reaching a panoramic viewpoint.

Details
Time:
3 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
5.2 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Morris
State:
NJ
Maps/Books
Buy Trail Map:

Map:

Morris County Park Commission map (available from kiosk at trailhead)


Buy Book:
Publication
First Published:
08/25/2006

Updated/Verified:
03/07/2012
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin
Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
40.946535,-74.388556
Driving Directions

Take Interstate Route 287 South to Exit 47 (Montville, Lincoln Park), and turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto Main Road (U.S. Route 202). Continue on Main Road as the road makes two sharp turns – first to the left, then to the right. In 0.6 mile, just before reaching a fire station, turn right onto Taylortown Road. Continue on Taylortown Road for 1.8 miles until it ends at Boonton Avenue (County Route 511). Turn right onto Boonton Avenue and continue for 0.7 mile to the entrance to the Pyramid Mountain County Park Natural Historic Area, on the left side of the road, opposite the Mars Park Corporate Center.

Description

Although best known for Pyramid Mountain and Tripod Rock, on the west side of Boonton Avenue, the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area also includes Turkey Mountain, on the east side of the road. This hike explores the lesser-used Turkey Mountain area.

At the southern end of the parking area, you’ll notice a triple yellow blaze, which marks the start of the Yellow Trail. Follow this trail south, parallel to Boonton Avenue, for a short distance, then turn left and cross the road at a designated crosswalk. The trail continues along a level, graveled-surfaced road, passing the Mars Park to the left. Soon, the Yellow Trail reaches a junction with the Red Dot Trail, which leaves to the right., but continue ahead on the Yellow Trail.

In another third a mile, the blue-blazed Butler-Montville Trail crosses. Continue to follow the Yellow Trail, which now becomes rougher and narrower and begins to descend. In about half a mile, the Yellow Trail turns right onto a footpath and passes the start of the white-blazed Valhalla Overlook Trail. Soon, you'll reach the base of the descent, where the Yellow Trail joins another woods road. About 400 feet after crossing a footbridge over a stream, the trail turns right, leaving the woods road, and continues on a footpath.

The trail now climbs to the rim of a deep ravine. This depression was created by a quarry that operated here in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The quarried rock was transported to the nearby Lake Valhalla (where it was crushed) via the Horse Shoe Trail, which is followed in part by today’s Yellow Trail. The crushed rock was then taken to Boonton, where it was used to remove impurities from the iron ore that was smelted there. Although commonly referred to as “limestone,” the rock found in this area is more correctly known as dolomitic marble.

At the end of the quarry, the Red Trail leaves to the left. Just beyond, the Yellow Trail turns sharply right and descends to a woods road (the northern end of the Horseshoe Trail). It turns left onto the woods road, but soon turns right, leaving the road, and crosses a stream in a wet area. Follow the Yellow Trail as it now begins to climb, passing some more quarry pits and ravines along the way. Soon, the trail emerges onto a clearing and crosses under a power line.

About 1.8 miles from the start of the hike, you’ll come to another T-intersection. Here, the Yellow Trail turns right and crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, but you should turn left, now following the Green Trail. To your right, there is an attractive waterfall in wet seasons (the waterfall is dry during periods of sparse precipitation).

Continue ahead (north) on the Green Trail, which climbs briefly, descends to cross a small stream, then resumes a steady ascent. After reaching the crest of the rise, it descends gently on an old woods road.

The Green Trail ends at a junction with the Yellow Trail, marked with a cairn. Turn left onto the Yellow Trail, which climbs Turkey Mountain on an old woods road, passing through gaps in several stone walls on the way.

Continue along the Yellow Trail until it ends in a stand of cedar trees on the summit ridge of Turkey Mountain. A large rock outcrop to the left of the trail offers east-facing views when there are no leaves on the trees, but even when the view is obstructed by foliage, the rock outcrop provides a nice place to take a break (be careful not to touch the poison ivy that grows along a portion of the outcrop!).

When you’re ready to continue, turn right onto the Red Trail and continue along the flat summit ridge of the mountain. Soon, you’ll reach the true summit (892 feet) at a stone wall. Here, the trail turns left and begins to descend.

After a brief level section, the Red Trail climbs slightly to a secondary summit of Turkey Mountain, where it ends. Turn right, and in 50 feet, you'll reach a junction with the blue-blazed Butler-Montville Trail. Turn left onto this trail, which descends through the woods to a T-intersection. Here, the blue trail turns right, but you should turn left onto the green-blazed Waterfall Trail. The green trail soon bears right and reaches a panoramic south-facing viewpoint over Lake Valhalla. You’ll want to pause here to rest and enjoy the outstanding view.

After taking in the view, return to the junction with the blue-blazed Butler-Montville Trail. Turn left and follow the blue-blazed trail, which descends steadily on a footpath and soon joins a woods road. After leveling off, the trail follows a wooden boardwalk over a wet area, then reaches  a junction with the Yellow Trail. 

Turn right onto the Yellow Trail, retracing your steps on a level, gravel-surfaced woods road for half a mile back to Boonton Avenue. Cross the road and continue to the Visitors Center and the parking area where the hike began.

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

Hike Description Needs Update (White Trailhead)

Did this hike a couple of days ago. The start of the white trail was moved significantly on the yellow trail. It now starts well before you cross the blue blazed Butler-Montville trail. New white trailhead is on the right and is well marked with large rock cairn and triple white blazes. This reroute is quite nice, and at one point passes a wooden sign for blue trail, allowing for loop hike back to yellow. Stay on white when you see this sign if you wish to see the Valhalla Overlook (better when leaves are down). My other concern is that it is now nearly Fall 2014 and some trails in this park are still closed despite PSEG having completed their massive powerlines quite awhile ago. When will the rest of the trails be opened? Thanks.

Yellow Trail Description Needs Updating

I hiked the yellow trail described in this hike today and it has had a significant reroute. This hike description needs to be updated. The reroute is quite nice- kudos to those TC volunteers who designed it and worked to make it happen!

Hike description has been updated

Thanks for bringing the reroute to our attention.  I have updated the hike description.

Direction Clarifications

Coming from I-287 N, you need to turn right at the bottom of the exit ramp. If you have a GPS and you want to enter an address, the main parking area is right across the street from  "1 Mars Court, Boonton, NJ."   To get to the start of the yellow trail, go to the end of the parking area where the Visitors Center is and cross the street.  

I heard coyotes howl during a hike here in Dec. 2009!

This area of Pyramid Mountain is less-traveled than its neighbor across the street, although it doesn't boast of the views or interesting rock formations. On a snowy winter's morning here in December, 2009, I heard the cry of coyotes as I was heading towards Boonton Ave near the intersection of the yellow & red dot trail. It was creepy yet exciting at the same time!