Mills Reservation with New York City View
Directions to trailhead
Take the Garden State Parkway south to Exit 154 (Clifton). Bear left after the toll booths, following the sign to Route 46, and continue west on Route 46. In 0.9 mile, take the Valley Road exit. At the bottom of the ramp, bear right onto Valley Road north, but immediately turn left, following the sign for "Montclair," then bear left again at the sign "U-Turn, Montclair." Proceed south along Valley Road for 1.0 mile and turn right onto Normal Avenue. Cross the railroad tracks, continue uphill for another 0.3 mile, and turn left into the parking area for Mills Reservation at the top of the hill, just past the intersection with Granite Drive.
NJ Transit bus #191/195 provides only limited weekday service but does stop at the trailhead. Find schedules at www.njtransit.com.
The trailhead can also be reached by public transportation. The park is 0.3 mile (uphill along Normal Avenue) from the Montclair Heights station on the Montclair-Boonton rail line of NJ Transit (service provided only on weekdays). Find schedules at www.njtransit.com.
The 157-acre Mills Reservation, an Essex County park, is a wooded oasis surrounded by suburbia. Situated atop the Watchung mountain range, the park is maintained in its natural state, with a network of woods roads and footpaths. This hike circles the park on footpaths, following, for the most part, the red-blazed Reservoir Trail and the blue-blazed Eastview Trail.
From the southwest corner of the parking area, head uphill on a gravel road. Just ahead on the left, you’ll notice a kiosk with a trail map. Opposite the kiosk, leave the road and turn right onto the red-blazed Reservoir Trail – your route for the first part of the hike. Soon, a purple-blazed trail begins on the left, but continue ahead on the red trail. A short distance beyond, the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail joins from the right. The yellow and red blazes run jointly for about 500 feet, but when the Lenape Trail branches off to the left, continue ahead, following the red blazes.
The trail soon begins to parallel Reservoir Drive, which can be seen and heard to the right (if there are no leaves on the trees, you can also see the Cedar Grove Reservoir behind a fence). In about a third of a mile, as Reservoir Drive curves to the right, the trail bears left, crosses a wooden footbridge, and heads deeper into the woods. Soon, the trail again begins to run close to the park boundary, with the backyards of homes visible to the right of the trail.
Near the southern end of the reservation, the red trail ends at a woods road, with a kiosk on the left. On the right, you’ll notice a triple-blue blaze, which marks the start of the Eastview Trail. This will be your route for most of the rest of the hike. Turn right onto the blue-blazed trail, which is briefly joined by the black-on-yellow-blazed Lenape Link Trail. Follow the blue blazes as they bear left and climb gradually along a rock outcrop, with a steep drop below to the right. After again curving to the left, the blue trail reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. Turn right, now following both blue and yellow blazes.
In 250 feet, you’ll emerge onto an open area, with an abandoned circular concrete slab. You are at Quarry Point, named for the abandoned quarry that once operated directly below. Here, a large outcrop of the igneous basalt rock that forms the Watchung mountain range affords south-facing views. The skyline of the City of Newark is visible from another rock outcrop just to the south.
This is a good place to take a break – not only to take in the view, but also to examine the interesting volcanic igneous rock that forms the Watchung mountain range. This rock, known as basalt, was formed when molten lava extruded out onto the earth’s surface and cooled rapidly. It is completely different from the metamorphic rock found in the nearby Highlands (and also distinguishable from the igneous rock of the Palisades, known as diabase, which cooled more slowly underground).
When you're ready to continue, follow the blue trail as it continues north on a woods road, jointly with the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. When the blue trail leaves to the left, continue ahead on the yellow trail. Just ahead, the yellow trail approaches the edge of the cliffs on the right. Bear right here, head towards the cliff line, and turn left onto an unmarked trail that runs along the top of the cliffs. A short distance ahead, you’ll reach a panoramic viewpoint over the New York City skyline. Take care as you follow this footpath, as it runs close to the edge of the cliffs.
Continue to follow the unmarked footpath along the cliffs until it bears left and reaches a complex intersection of woods roads and trails, with a kiosk. The yellow-blazed Lenape Trail immediately heads off to the right, but you should turn right onto the blue trail, which bears left at a fork of woods roads, then almost immediately diverges to the left and continues on a footpath.
For the rest of the way, the blue trail meanders through the woods, crossing two gravel roads along the way. Beyond the second gravel road, you may catch a glimpse of the New York City skyline through the trees. As the trail bends to head westward, it begins to descend, and it approaches Normal Avenue and begins to parallel it. After passing a driveway with stone walls that leads down to Normal Avenue, the blue trail ends at the parking area where the hike began.