From the kiosk at the entrance to the parking area, proceed ahead on the co-aligned Blue Mountain Loop (blue), Stony Brook Trail (brown) and Tower Trail (green), which follow a woods road. In 300 feet, turn left at a double blue blaze and continue on the Blue Mountain Loop, which climbs gradually on a rocky woods road through an attractive mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. Upon reaching...
From the kiosk at the entrance to the parking area, proceed ahead on the co-aligned Blue Mountain Loop (blue), Stony Brook Trail (brown) and Tower Trail (green), which follow a woods road. In 300 feet, turn left at a double blue blaze and continue on the Blue Mountain Loop, which climbs gradually on a rocky woods road through an attractive mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. Upon reaching the top of a rise, it descends slightly and levels off, now passing through a largely deciduous forest, with an understory of mountain laurel and blueberry.
About a mile from the start, the trail crosses a stream on rocks, climbs parallel to the stream, and again levels off. Then, in another mile, you'll reach a T-intersection. Here, the yellow-blazed Tinsley Trail comes in from the right. You should turn left here, following both yellow and blue blazes along a woods road that descends rather steeply. Watch carefully for a turn in only about 500 feet, where the blue blazes leave to the right. Turn right here, and follow the Blue Mountain Loop as it descends on a very rocky footpath.
Soon, you'll reach a clearing with a cabin on the left. This is a good place to take a break (there is a picnic table alongside the cabin). When you're ready to continue, bear right and proceed ahead on the Blue Mountain Loop. The trail now once again follows a relatively level woods road - a welcome respite from the rocky footpath. In about half a mile, it crosses several branches of a stream on rocks.
Just beyond the last branch of the stream, the Blue Mountain Loop turns right, leaving the woods road, and climbs on a footpath, paralleling a stream on the left. After crossing the stream on rocks, the trail levels off. Soon, it crosses another stream and continues through a dense understory of ferns. It then climbs a little more to cross the paved Sunrise Mountain Road. The climb steepens on the other side of the road, and, in a short distance, the trail reaches a panoramic west-facing viewpoint from an open rock ledge, with several pine trees. This is a good spot to take a break.
After climbing a little more, you’ll come to a junction with a side trail with black/blue blazes. Turn right and follow this trail uphill. After a brief level section, this black/blue side trail ends at a junction with the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
Turn right and follow the white-blazed A.T., which heads uphill on a wide, clearly defined path. Soon, you'll notice a parking area on the right side of the trail. A short distance beyond, a path on the right leads to the southern end of the parking area, and the A.T. climbs stone steps. At the top of the steps, a side trail leads left to a panoramic east-facing viewpoint over the Kittatinny Valley from a rock ledge. A bench has been placed here, making it a good spot to take a break.
A short distance ahead, the A.T. reaches a pavilion with stone columns, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. Here, there are views both east and west, but the viewpoint you just passed offers a more pristine setting. The A.T. continues from the southeast corner of the pavilion and begins to descend. After a short level stretch, the trail climbs over a rise and descends to an area with low vegetation, with scrub oak and mountain laurel predominating.
Soon, the A.T. reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Tinsley Trail, which begins on the right. You should turn left and continue ahead on the A.T., which climbs steadily for the next 0.1 mile. At the top of the climb, amid a cluster of pines, a short side trail on the right leads to a viewpoint from a rock ledge over the Pocono Mountains to the west.
For the next mile or so, the A.T. follows a rather level footpath along the west side of the ridge, traversing a deciduous forest with an understory of mountain laurel and blueberry. After passing wetlands and a vernal pond on the left, the trail proceeds through mountain laurel thickets. It then crosses wet areas on stepping stones and puncheons and reaches a junction with the brown-blazed Stony Brook Trail, whicht leads down to the Gren Anderson Shelter. Continue ahead on the A.T., which crosses Stony Brook on rocks in another 500 feet. After another level stretch, the trail begins to climb, and about a mile from Stony Brook, it reaches a junction with the dark-green-blazed Tower Trail at a west-facing viewpoint studded with pitch pines.
The Tower Trail will be your return route, but you may wish to proceed ahead a short distance on the A.T. to the Culver Fire Tower. There are panoramic views from the top of the tower, but excellent west-facing views can also be obtained from its base, where there is a large picnic table. After enjoying the views, return to the Tower Trail and follow it down the mountain, back to the parking area where you started the hike. The first part of the descent is very steep, but the grade soon moderates. On the way, you'll cross Sunrise Mountain Road. In 1.2 miles, the trail crosses Stony Brook on a wooden footbridge and turns left onto a level woods road. Make sure to follow the main woods road and the dark green blazes where the road makes a sharp turn to the right after 0.2 mile.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 08/28/2003 updated/verified on 11/29/2020
This loop hike follows a woods road through an attractive forest, climbs to the Kittatinny Ridge, and proceeds south on the Appalachian Trail along the ridge, with many fine views.
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.