Lord Stirling Park is named for William Alexander, Lord Stirling, a general in the Revolutionary War, whose estate included this area. It is situated on a portion of the former Glacial Lake Passaic, which covered the area about 15,000 years ago. As a result, the entire area of the park is nearly level. Sections of the trails can be very wet, so it is a good idea to wear waterproof hiking boots...
Lord Stirling Park is named for William Alexander, Lord Stirling, a general in the Revolutionary War, whose estate included this area. It is situated on a portion of the former Glacial Lake Passaic, which covered the area about 15,000 years ago. As a result, the entire area of the park is nearly level. Sections of the trails can be very wet, so it is a good idea to wear waterproof hiking boots.
From the parking lot, walk to the right of the Environmental Education Center and bear right, following the sign for “hiking trail.” Continue ahead on a gravel path, with Branta Pond on the left and Esox Pond on the right. When you reach the end of Branta Pond, turn right onto a wide grassy path, the route of the Yellow Trail.
Bear right at the next intersection, soon reaching a short side trail on the right that leads to a floating dock overlooking Esox Pond. Turn right at the following intersection and then immediately bear left, still following the yellow blazes. Just ahead, on the left, is the East Observation Blind, which overlooks a wetland known as Lily Pad Pond.
After passing the pond on the left, continue to follow the Yellow Trail as it turns right onto another path that heads east. The trail soon approaches the Passaic River and turns north, paralleling the river. It approaches the river once more (at an interpretive sign) and crosses the June Beetle Bridge, then curves left, away from the river.
At the next intersection, turn right and then, in 100 feet, bear right again. Soon, you’ll begin to follow along the edge of the Lenape Meadow on the left. A short distance beyond, a short boardwalk on the right leads to the East Observation Tower, which offers a view over the Passaic River.
After enjoying the view, return to the trail and turn right, following the wide grassy path along the edge of the meadow. At the end of the meadow, bear right at a T-intersection onto a green-blazed trail. In another 200 feet, a boardwalk begins on the left, but you should continue straight ahead.
After proceeding for a quarter mile through a wooded area, the trail begins to follow a long stretch of boardwalk. At the next intersection, bear right and continue along the boardwalk as it meanders through the East Marsh, a swampy area with a number of trees. At one point, the boardwalk approaches the Passaic River, with a short spur leading out to a viewpoint over the river. Across the river is the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. After taking in the view, return to the main boardwalk and bear right.
At the next intersection, bear right onto an 0.7-mile-long loop, nicknamed the "Boondocks Boardwalk" after the isolated area that it goes through. This boardwalk was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but it has since been rebuilt. After traversing a winding section of boardwalk, the trail bears right and continues along a newly rebuilt section with railings on both sides. This trail section traverses La Plus Grande – the most interesting wetland in the park. Towards the end of La Plus Grande, a short side trail leads to a open platform with benches and a plaque honoring those who contributed to the reconstruction of the boardwalk
A short distance beyond, the railings end and the boardwalk continues through the woods. After traversing a long section of boardwalk through woodlands, you’ll come to a triangular junction of boardwalk. Bear right, now heading south. Do not turn right at the next junction, but continue straight ahead. When the boardwalk ends, continue ahead on wide gravel path..
In another 100 feet, you’ll reach a T-intersection. Turn left, now following the Red Trail, which will lead you all the way back to the Environmental Education Center. You should bear right at the next two intersections, and then make a left followed by a right. After passing a deer exclosure on the right, you’ll cross the Backswimmer Bridge over a stream. Bear left just beyond, and cross the Aphid Bridge. After going around a bend in the trail, the Environmental Education Center will be visible ahead through the trees, across Branta Pond. Bear right at the next intersection onto the path on which you began the hike, and proceed back to the center and the parking lot.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 07/04/2002 updated/verified on 10/05/2020
This relatively level hike passes through lowland forest, runs alongside a river, and crosses swamplands on boardwalks.
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.