From the kiosk, continue ahead (southwest) for 100 feet on the gravel road, then turn left onto another gravel road and pass between two metal gateposts. You’re now following the route of the orange-blazed Hibernia Brook Trail. In another 100 feet (before reaching a locked gate), follow the orange-blazed trail as it turns right, leaving the gravel road, and enters the woods on a footpath. The...
From the kiosk, continue ahead (southwest) for 100 feet on the gravel road, then turn left onto another gravel road and pass between two metal gateposts. You’re now following the route of the orange-blazed Hibernia Brook Trail. In another 100 feet (before reaching a locked gate), follow the orange-blazed trail as it turns right, leaving the gravel road, and enters the woods on a footpath. The trail proceeds through a deciduous forest with an understory of blueberry bushes. After a level stretch, the trail climbs to reach an exposed bedrock slab with glacial striations, and then descends. On the way down, it passes a rail with a pointed tip embedded in the ground to the left of the trail. This unusual feature once served as a boundary marker.
After passing through a valley, the trail climbs rather steeply, levels off, and crosses a woods road. It continues on a level footpath, then climbs a little to reach a T-intersection with a woods road. Follow the orange-blazed trail as it turns right onto the road. In 125 feet, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Four Birds Trail. You’ll be heading north on this trail, but for now, continue ahead on the orange-blazed trail for 500 feet to the Hawk Watch -– an open rock ledge that provides a panoramic view over the Rockaway Valley below. During the fall and spring migratory seasons, volunteers record the numbers of migratory birds observed here. On a clear day, portions of the New York City skyline can be seen on the horizon to the left.
Even if you’re not a hawk-watcher, you’ll want to spend some time at this beautiful location. When you’re ready to continue, retrace your steps to the white-blazed Four Birds Trail and turn right, now heading north. The trail immediately crosses a gravel road (which, to the right, leads to a television transmission tower) and begins a long, steady descent. In half a mile, at the base of the descent, the trail traverses a rocky area, crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, and begins a steady climb.
In another quarter of a mile, you’ll reach a junction with the red-blazed Beaver Pond Trail, which begins on the left (the triple-blaze marking the start of the trail is about 50 feet from the junction). Turn left and follow the Beaver Pond Trail, which climbs gradually. At the crest of the rise, a short side trail on the left leads to an interesting split rock, with a south-facing view through the trees during leaf-off season. The tower on the ridge ahead is the television transmission tower just north of the Hawk Watch.
The trail now descends slightly to reach the large Beaver Pond (which may be covered with water lilies in the summer). A beaver lodge may be seen directly ahead, with two abandoned telephone poles incongruously sticking out of the water. Here, the trail turns left and follows along the southern shore of the pond. Beyond the pond, the trail widens to a gravel road. After passing an abandoned stone building – a crusher from the Willis Mine that was once active here – the Beaver Pond Trail ends at a locked gate.
Continue ahead along the left side of the large, open gravel area. When you reach the gravel Upper Hibernia Road, you’ll notice a sign on the left marking the continuation of the yellow-blazed Wildcat Ridge Trail. Turn left and follow this trail into the woods. Soon, the trail begins to run along a mining berm that parallels a ditch (the ditch once carried a pipe that supplied compressed air to the mines).
After moving away from the berm, the yellow-blazed trail ends at a gravel road. Turn right onto the gravel road, then right again at the next intersection to return to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 09/25/2003 updated/verified on 11/09/2021
This loop hike in the Farny Highlands climbs to a panoramic viewpoint over the Rockaway Valley from the Hawk Watch and goes by an interesting beaver pond.
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
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- 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.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- 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.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 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.