Established in 1924 by a gift of local residents Adolphe and Sarah Borie, Hacklebarney State Park now includes 978 acres along the Black River. The park is heavily used on summer weekends, with many picnic tables along the trails, but at other times, there are few visitors. Trails run along three scenic streams – Rhinehart Brook, the Black River and Trout Brook - and this hike parallels all...
Established in 1924 by a gift of local residents Adolphe and Sarah Borie, Hacklebarney State Park now includes 978 acres along the Black River. The park is heavily used on summer weekends, with many picnic tables along the trails, but at other times, there are few visitors. Trails run along three scenic streams – Rhinehart Brook, the Black River and Trout Brook - and this hike parallels all three streams.
From the main parking area, backtrack along the park entrance road to a gated road that heads uphill at a "Smokey the Bear" sign. Turn sharply left onto this road (its paved surface is now covered with moss and grass), marked with green blazes as the Playground Trail. In 350 feet, the Playground Trail bears left at a fork; the right fork is the route of the Upland Trail (pink), which begins here. The other end of the Upland Trail is on the right, 350 feet further along the Playground Trail, at a sign for an “overlook” (the view from the overlook has grown in). The Playground Trail now descends to a clearing, with playground equipment on the right and abandoned picnic tables on the left.
At the end of the clearing, you’ll notice a triple-yellow blaze, which marks the start of the Windy Ridge Trail. Turn right, passing in front of a park bench, and continue on a dirt path. The trail climbs gently, then descends gradually along the side of a hill. Towards the base of the descent, it goes down stone steps, curving sharply to the left, and soon begins to parallel Rhinehart Brook.
The yellow blazes end where the trail intersects a gravel road, with an abandoned stone water fountain on the left. Straight ahead, the gravel road is the route of the white-blazed Main Trail, but you should turn right onto the red-blazed Riverside Trail and cross a wooden bridge over the brook. On the other side of the bridge, bear left and follow the red-blazed trail uphill, with the brook on the left. After descending slightly, you'll reach another intersection, where you should bear left, continuing to follow the red blazes (the trail straight ahead leads in a short distance to the park boundary, marked by two stone pillars).
The trail now descends to the Black River. After crossing a wooden bridge over a small tributary and a longer footbridge over Rhinehart Brook, the graded trail ends. For the next half mile, you'll be following a narrow, rocky footpath along the river.
This section is the highlight of the hike, as the Black River is one of the wildest and most scenic rivers in the State of New Jersey. It is particularly spectacular after a heavy rain, but the rushing river, with its rapids, cascades and boulders, is beautiful any time of the year. You'll want to take some time to cover this stretch of the trail so that you can fully appreciate the magnificent scenery.
After passing a huge boulder in the river, the trail briefly joins a gravel road which comes in from the left. The road offers a welcome respite from the rock-hopping. Soon, a side trail on the right leads to a bench that overlooks beautiful cascades upstream in the river. A short distance beyond, the gravel road ends, and the Riverside Trail continues along the river on a rocky footpath.
The trail eventually emerges in a clearing, with a group of picnic tables and an abandoned restroom building on the left. At the end of the clearing, the trail joins a gravel road which curves left, soon reaching a footbridge over Trout Brook. The Riverside Trail turns right and crosses this bridge, but you should continue ahead on the gravel road, now following the blue-blazed Haki Trail.
You will follow this trail for only about 200 feet. Watch carefully on the right for a triple-orange blaze, which marks the start of the Wintershine Trail. Turn sharply here, leaving the gravel road, and continue on a footpath that passes a picnic table and crosses the brook on another footbridge.
On the other side of the bridge, the Wintergreen Trail bears right and crosses a rocky area. The trail soon becomes wider and smoother, proceeding through an area with both hemlocks and deciduous trees, high above the Black River (visible through the trees below on the right). The wooly adelgid has killed many of the older hemlocks, but younger hemlocks are replacing them.
In a third of a mile, the Wintegreen Trail swings left and ends at a junction with a paved road, the route of the red-blazed Riverside Trail. You should turn left and follow this trail along the road, which is nearly level. After descending slightly, the road begins to parallel Trout Brook, below on the left.
Soon, you'll notice stone steps to the left that lead down to the brook. It is worthwhile to take the short side trip down to the brook, as there is an attractive waterfall a short distance upstream that is best viewed from the brook level.
A short distance beyond, you'll come to a bridge over Trout Brook. Turn left, cross the bridge, then turn right and head uphill on the purple-blazed Waterfall Trail, which follows a paved road. At the next intersection, turn right and continue along the white-blazed Main Trail, which follows a paved road back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 08/17/2007 updated/verified on 09/09/2019
This loop hike follows several picturesque streams, including the wild and scenic Black River
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.