A component of the Morris County Park System, the 380-acre Hedden Park is best known for its developed recreational facilities, including a six-acre lake that offers fishing and boating. But it also features a network of over three miles of hiking trails. This hike follows the attractive Jackson Brook for over a mile, passes the interesting Indian Falls, and traverses remote portions of the...
A component of the Morris County Park System, the 380-acre Hedden Park is best known for its developed recreational facilities, including a six-acre lake that offers fishing and boating. But it also features a network of over three miles of hiking trails. This hike follows the attractive Jackson Brook for over a mile, passes the interesting Indian Falls, and traverses remote portions of the park. Although the hike is not exceptionally difficult, it involves a total elevation gain of over 400 feet, with several rather steep sections.
From the parking area, descend to the brook, where a triple-yellow blaze marks the start of the Jackson Brook Trail. Follow this attractive trail north along the cascading brook, descending very gradually.
In about half a mile, you’ll reach paved Indian Falls Road. Here, the trail turns right along the road and crosses a bridge over the brook. At the end of the guardrail beyond the bridge, follow the yellow blazes as they turn left and re-enter the woods, with the brook now on your left. The trail soon moves away from the brook. It heads slightly uphill, crosses a wooden footbridge over a tributary stream, and ends at a T-intersection with the white-blazed Hedden Circular Trail (marked by a bench).
Turn left and follow the Hedden Circular Trail, which at first runs above the brook, then descends to the brook. You can see private homes on the opposite side of the brook, but this stretch of trail is very pleasant, with the cascading brook to your left. After passing a private footbridge across the brook, you’ll reach a junction with the red-blazed Mountain Trail, which leaves to the right. Continue ahead on the white trail.
In another 400 feet, with a bench on the right, the white trail bears right and begins to climb. Leave the white trail here and proceed straight ahead on the light-green-blazed Indian Falls Trail, which continues to run along the brook. In another 500 feet, you’ll notice a small waterfall on the left. This marks the beginning of Indian Falls – a series of minor waterfalls. The most fascinating section – where the brook divides into two falls, separated by a huge boulder – cannot be seen clearly from the trail, which descends rather steeply to reach the brook just beyond the base of the falls. When you reach the bottom of the steep descent, you might want to walk back along the brook to get a better view of this attractive waterfall.
After exploring this fascinating feature, proceed ahead on the green Indian Falls Trail, which continues to parallel the brook, passing more cascades. You’ll notice a picnic area on the opposite side of the brook. With a bridge over the brook visible ahead on your left, you’ll pass a triple-green blaze on a tree, marking the end of the Indian Falls Trail. Just ahead, turn right onto the paved road, bear right at the next fork, and continue along the paved road, which proceeds uphill.
Just before reaching a bridge over a stream, turn right and follow a blue-blazed trail that leads uphill to a junction with the white-blazed Hedden Circular Trail. Turn left onto the white trail, which heads uphill on a woods road. You’ll be following this trail for the next mile.
Soon, the white blazes turn left, leaving the woods road, and descend through the woods on a footpath. At the base of the descent, a blue-blazed trail proceeds ahead (it leads to another parking area), but you should bear right to continue along the white-blazed Hedden Circular Trail. The white trail now begins a rather steep climb. On the way, you’ll cross the woods road that you previously followed (to the left, this woods road is blazed blue). Before reaching the crest of the ridge, the trail bears right and continues along the shoulder of the ridge, following a rocky treadway that traverses a quiet, secluded area of the park. Soon, the trail begins to descend.
After passing a circle of stones on the right, the trail descends along a stream, then bears left and crosses the stream on a wooden footbridge. Once across the stream, the treadway becomes much smoother. The trail now begins another steady climb. After crossing a gravel road, you’ll pass one end of the green-blazed Indian Falls Trail on the right, but you should continue ahead on the white-blazed Hedden Circular Trail, which climbs more steeply.
Just below the crest of the ridge, with a stone wall visible ahead, the trail turns right. At the end of the stone wall, the trail again turns right, onto a dirt road. Just beyond, the red-blazed Mountain Trail begins on the right, but you should continue along the road, passing picnic tables on the left, with a softball field beyond.
As the road curves to the left, the white trail bears right, leaving the road, and begins to descend. Follow the white blazes, which soon turn right onto a woods road that comes down from the softball field, continuing to descend steadily.
In another 0.2 mile, you’ll reach a fork where the white trail bears right and the yellow-blazed Indian Falls Trail begins on the left. Turn left and follow the yellow trail back to the parking area on Randolph Avenue where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 02/10/2006 updated/verified on 05/17/2022
This “lollipop”-loop hike runs along a cascading stream, passes by Indian Falls, and climbs to a wooded ridge in a less-used area of the park.
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.