At the rear entrance to the nature center, three white blazes mark the start of the White Loop Trail. With Quarry Pond on the left, follow the White Loop Trail on an easy grade uphill to a meadow, where you should bear left. Just ahead, the Purple Trail crosses, but you should continue ahead on the White Loop Trail. In another 250 feet, the Purple Trail ends on the right, just before you reach...
At the rear entrance to the nature center, three white blazes mark the start of the White Loop Trail. With Quarry Pond on the left, follow the White Loop Trail on an easy grade uphill to a meadow, where you should bear left. Just ahead, the Purple Trail crosses, but you should continue ahead on the White Loop Trail. In another 250 feet, the Purple Trail ends on the right, just before you reach an intersection. Turn left at the intersection and follow white and blue blazes along a wide path, with puncheons on the left. Soon, the Purple Trail joins from the left and then leaves to the right.
At the next Y-intersection, bear left onto the White Loop Trail, as the Blue Loop Trail continues straight ahead. Then, at the next junction, turn left onto the Red Loop Trail, and you will immediately arrive at an overlook to the southwest. Although it cannot be seen, I-95 is below you (you may be able to hear the sounds of the traffic). On a clear day, you can see the First Watchung Mountain in the distance.
Now retrace your steps to the junction and continue straight ahead on the joint Red and White Loop Trails. When the White Loop Trail leaves to the left, continue ahead on the Red Loop Trail. At the next intersection, the Blue Loop Trail is to the right, but you should bear left to continue on the Red Loop Trail, which now begins a gentle descent.
After passing through a gate in the fence, the Red Loop Trail bears left, but you should proceed ahead on the Yellow Trail, which continues to descend a little more steeply. The Yellow Trail then curves to the left and levels off. Be alert for a sharp right turn in the Yellow Trail, adjacent to a yellow “B.C.U.A.” sign. Here, the Green Loop Trail joins. Continue ahead on the joint Yellow and Green Loop Trails, which cross Flat Rock Brook on large boulders (the crossing may be somewhat difficult when the water is high). On the other side of the brook, the Yellow Trail turns right, but you should turn left and follow the Green Loop Trail.
Continue along the Green Loop Trail as it parallels the brook, with private residences beyond a fence on the right. Soon the brook widens into MacFadden’s Wetland, named for the physical culturist Bernarr MacFadden (1868-1955), who lived nearby about 1930.
At the end of the wetland, cross a wooden bridge over a concrete dam. This bridge is known as the “Mystery Bridge” because it mysteriously appeared over one weekend. On the opposite side of the bridge, turn right onto the Red Loop Trail. Just below the bridge, you may observe attractive cascades if the water level in the brook is high.
Continue ahead downhil on the Red Loop Trail. At first, the trail has been routed away from the brook, but it soon moves closer to the brook and descends wooden steps. This is the most scenic portion of the hike, with the brook tumbling over rocks to your right. Beyond the steps, the trail levels off and continues to run alongside the brook.
When you reach a junction where the Orange Trail begins, turn left (following the sign for the "Nature Center"), go through the gate in the fence, and continue to follow the Red Loop Trail. After passing a gate on the right at the end of a residential street, the trail begins a steady ascent. At the top of the climb, turn right onto the wide White Loop Trail, and continue ahead to the paved road. With the Nature Center building directly in front of you, turn left to return to the parking area where you began the hike.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 07/25/2002 updated/verified on 04/14/2017
This loop hike runs along a cascading stream and wetland and passes by a broad overlook.
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.