From the parking area, walk back towards the entrance and turn right onto a paved/gravel road, crossing a bridge over the Mahwah River. On the other side of the river, you’ll notice signs for the orange-blazed Mountain Trail and the blue-blazed Old Mill Trail. The Mountain Trail will be your return route, but you should begin the hike by turning right onto the blue-blazed Old Mill Trail....
From the parking area, walk back towards the entrance and turn right onto a paved/gravel road, crossing a bridge over the Mahwah River. On the other side of the river, you’ll notice signs for the orange-blazed Mountain Trail and the blue-blazed Old Mill Trail. The Mountain Trail will be your return route, but you should begin the hike by turning right onto the blue-blazed Old Mill Trail.
The Old Mill Trail heads northeast on a level woods road. After bearing right at a fork and passing through a pine grove, the trail bears left and begins to parallel the Mahwah River. Soon, you’ll pass the ruins of an old mill and dam along the river. Here, the trail curves to the left and loops around (don’t follow the footpaths that lead to the right).
After crossing a tributary stream on a wooden bridge, the Old Mill Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. Turn right onto the Kakiat Trail, which ascends gradually. Soon, the trail reaches a buried gas line. It jogs to the right, then turns left, crosses the gas line, and resumes its climb. The grade now steepens. To the right, you may hear a cascading stream.
After crossing a small stream on rocks, you’ll pass a sign warning you not to proceed beyond this point if you are not familiar with the trails in the area. If you are following this description, you should be considered to have sufficient familiarity with the trails to enable you to proceed. The trail now crosses a cleared strip of land – the route of another buried gas line. Just beyond, it turns right onto a rocky woods road, paralleling a cascading stream on the right.
After climbing some more on the woods road, the trail crosses under power lines. Beyond the power lines, the trail curves to the left and soon reaches a T-intersection with the power line service road. Turn left onto the power line service road. In 100 feet, the Kakiat Trail turns right, leaving the road, but you should continue ahead on the power line service road. You’re now following the orange-blazed Mountain Trail, which begins here (you may be able to see a faded triple-orange blaze on a rock in the middle of the road).
A short distance ahead, you’ll cross a buried gas line, with views to the left. Continue ahead on the power line service road, marked with the orange blazes of the Mountain Trail. Soon, the trail begins another rather steep climb. At the top of the climb, you’ll again cross under the power lines. As you pass under the wires, you notice a faded arrow on the rock indicating that the trail turns left. Turn left, then immediately bear right and follow a wide path into the woods (do not descend along the power lines).
A short distance beyond (after passing a sign that indicates that you have reentered Kakiat County Park), you’ll reach a panoramic viewpoint that faces east and south. The best views are from a rock ledge to the left of the trail. On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline in the distance to the far right. This is a good place to take a break while admiring the views.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the trail, turn left and continue along the orange-blazed Mountain Trail, which now begins a steady, rather steep descent. Use caution, as the loose gravel may be slippery. Soon, you’ll reach a spot where you’ll need your hands to guide your descent over a steep rock outcrop. Just beyond, the trail curves to the left and begins to climb a little. When the trail turns right and resumes its descent, bear left and head uphill on a short unmarked path that leads to open rock ledges with south-facing views. From here, the New York City skyline may be seen on the horizon directly ahead.
Return to the trail, turn left, and resume your steady, rather steep descent. After crossing a gas line, the descent moderates. Soon, the Kakiat Trail begins on the left and, just ahead, the Mountain Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Old Mill Trail. Continue straight ahead, crossing the bridge over the Mahwah River, then turn left to reach the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 05/28/2020
This loop hike passes the ruins of an old mill and climbs to several viewpoints from which the New York City skyline can be seen.
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.