From the parking area, proceed south on the orange-blazed Ridge Trail, which follows a wide mowed path to the left of cultivated fields, with views of Point Mountain ahead in the distance. In about a third of a mile, where the orange-blazed trail turns left, continue ahead on the blue-blazed Riverwalk Trail. Near the end of the fields, where the orange-blazed trail turns left, continue ahead on the blue-blazed Riverwalk Trail, which curves to the right, follows along the southern end of the field, then turns left and descends on a footpath to the Musconetcong River. When you reach a fork, bear right to continue along the blue-blazed trail.
In a third of a mile, the Riverwalk Trail reaches another fork. The trail ahead is also marked blue, but you should turn right, leaving the woods road, follow a footpath for 50 feet to the river, then turn left and proceed along the river, still following blue blazes. For the next half mile, the trail follows a footpath that closely parallels the scenic river, which features attractive cascades.
After passing a huge sycamore tree, the trail crosses Point Mountain Road diagonally to the right and soon heads slightly inland, following a footpath through wild rose thickets. This trail section is often somewhat overgrown, although it is well blazed and relatively easy to follow. After approaching the river once more, the trail bears left, away from the river, and begins to run through a deciduous forest. Soon, the trail bears sharply left and begins to head northeast, paralleling Musconetcong River Road, visible through the trees to the right.
About two miles from the start, the Riverwalk Trail recrosses Point Mountain Road and enters a parking area on the east side of the road. Here, the trail turns right and begins to climb on a rocky footpath, reaching a trail junction in 250 feet. Continue ahead, uphill, now following the orange-blazed Ridge Trail. After the trail makes a sharp right turn, the grade steepens. It briefly moderates, but after bearing left, with a home below on the right, the trail continues to ascend on a rocky, rugged treadway, with rock and wood steps provided for part of the way.
After the trail bears sharply left in sight of another private home below on the right, the grade moderates, and the trail soon reaches a panoramic viewpoint over the Musconetcong River valley from a rock outcrop to the left of the trail. The tranquil view includes farms and small towns. This is a good place to take a break and rest from the climb – the one steep ascent on the hike.
The Ridge Trail now briefly descends to a junction with the yellow-blazed Overlook Trail. Here, it bears left and climbs to regain the ridge. Follow the orange-blazed trail as it continues along the ridge, with views through the trees on the left. Along the way, you’ll pass an interesting pointed rock on the left. After about half a mile of ridgetop walking, the trail bears right and descends slightly to parallel an old stone wall. Here, the White Trail begins on the right, but you should continue to follow the orange-blazed Ridge Trail, which turns left and climbs back to the ridge.
Soon, the trail begins a steady descent from the ridge. After crossing a stream, it turns left and follows a woods road downhill. Near the base of the descent, the White Trail goes off to the right. Continue ahead on the orange-blazed trail, which emerges onto a field and follows a mowed path along its left side. At the end of the field, it bears left and reaches a junction with the blue-blazed Riverwalk Trail, which begins on the left. Turn right and follow the orange-blazed trail along the right side of fields, retracing your steps to the Penwell Road parking area, where the hike began.
Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazinon 10/09/2003updated/verified on 03/26/2019
This loop hike follows mowed paths along cultivated fields, parallels the scenic Musconetcong River, and climbs to the summit of Point Mountain, with views of small towns, fertile farmland, and the Musconetcong River valley.
From the parking area, proceed south on the orange-blazed Ridge Trail, which follows a wide mowed path...
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.
Take I-80 to Exit 26 (Budd Lake/Hackettstown) and proceed west on US 46 for 7.4 miles to Hackettstown. Turn left onto NJ 182 and follow it for 1.0 mile, then turn right onto NJ 57. Follow NJ 57 for 6.2 miles and turn left onto Penwell Road (at a sign for "Penwell"). Proceed for 0.4 mile to a bridge over the Musconetcong River. About 0.1 mile beyond the bridge, turn right onto a gravel driveway just before a stone house and a wooden shed (the small park sign at this location is difficult to see) and continue uphill for about 0.2 mile to the parking area.
This is a great hike that was well worth the trip. The views from the peak are excellent, and the part of the hike that goes along the river is very scenic. Be advised that there is a point on the blue trail that has several downed trees impeding the trail. You will have to climb through and over trees at this point in the hike.
October 26, 2017
Lack of Blue trail maintenance
Not much has changed since efecher's review in 2012. The blue trail after crossing Point Mountain Road is still not maintained and very full of painful thorns. Next time, we will walk up Point Mt. Road and rejoin the blue at the other road crossing.
We parked as instructed in the description and did not find any trail blazes until after the fields; very confusing at first and we wished we had tick spray. Musconetcong is a beautiful river and makes the Blue trail worth it.