Old Mill/Kakiat/Mountain Trails Loop
Directions to trailhead
From Suffern, proceed north on U.S. Route 202. The entrance to Kakiat County Park is on the left (west) side of the road, just opposite the entrance to the Viola School.
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.