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Patriots' Path (Bernardsville to Morristown)
Directions to trailhead
Take the New Jersey Turnpike to Exit 14, and continue on I-78 West. Get off at Exit 48, and continue on NJ 24 West to the first exit (Millburn/Springfield/Summit). Keep right at the fork in the ramp, and merge onto Broad Street. After 0.4 mile, turn right onto Springfield Avenue. Continue for 0.8 mile, and turn left onto Summit Avenue. Proceed for two blocks, then turn right onto Union Place. The station is to your left. Metered parking (free on Sundays) is available in front of the station; parking (free on weekends) is also available in the municipal parking garage at the corner of Summit Avenue and Broad Street.
Take an NJ Transit Gladstone Line train to the Bernardsville station. From New York City, you can take a Midtown Direct Morristown Line train from Penn Station and change at Newark or Summit to a Gladstone Line train. From Bergen County, you can take a train on the Main, Bergen County or Pascack Valley Lines to Secaucus Junction or Hoboken and change there for a Gladstone Line or Morristown Line train. For more information, contact NJ Transit, (973) 762-5100, www.njtransit.com.
From Summit, take an NJ Transit Gladstone Line train to Bernardsville. On weekends, trains run hourly, departing at 14 minutes after the hour. (Be sure to buy your ticket from a machine at the station; otherwise, you may be charged a penalty by the conductor.) For more information, contact NJ Transit, (973) 762-5100, www.njtransit.com.
From the Bernardsville station, proceed north (uphill) on Claremont Road. At the intersection with Mine Mount Road, bear right onto Seney Drive, and continue ahead to its end at Chestnut Avenue, where you should turn right. Both Claremont Road and Seney Drive have sidewalks; although Chestnut Avenue lacks sidewalks, it is a very lightly traveled road, lined with large homes, which passes through a pleasant wooded area. After crossing a stream, Chestnut Avenue ends at Hardscrabble Road. Turn left on Hardscrabble Road for about 650 feet, then turn right at a gate on the right.
You are now following a spur of the Patriots’ Path, marked by a distinctive tree-and-path logo (the Patriots’ Path will be your route for the next ten miles of the hike). Just ahead, bear left at signpost #63, which indicates that you are now following the route of the New Jersey Brigade Trail. You now begin a steady climb. Soon, you’ll come to another intersection, where double blazes indicate that the Patriots’ Path goes both left and right. Bear left here and continue to climb, more steeply in places. A short distance beyond, a white-blazed trail that begins on the right leads to the Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuaries of the New Jersey Audubon Society, but you should continue ahead on the Patriots’ Path/New Jersey Brigade Trail.
At a T-intersection at the crest of the rise, turn right, following the sign for the New Jersey Brigade Trail (the side trail on the left leads to the Public Gardens of the Cross Estate). After passing another side trail to the Cross Estate, the Patriots’ Path/New Jersey Brigade Trail descends steadily. It bears left at signpost #60 and, just ahead, crosses the Passaic River (which, at this point, is a rocky brook) on a wooden footbridge.
The Patriots’ Path/New Jersey Brigade Trail climbs out of the river valley, levels off, and then descends to reach an intersection with the white-blazed Grand Loop Trail, where it turns right. The trails cross a wide wooden bridge over a stream (signpost #57) and climb to cross paved Tempe Wick Road, about two miles from the start of the trail (four miles from the Bernardsville station) (signpost #56).
After climbing a little more, the joint Patriots Path/Grand Loop Trail crosses an old woods road, known as the Mendham Road Trail, at signpost #55. Just ahead, the trails pass an interpretive sign with the story of the Connecticut Line, bear right and begin a gradual descent. As the trails level off, Mt. Kemble is visible through the trees on the right. The trails now begin to climb.
After leveling off, the joint Patriots' Path/Grand Loop Trail crosses the red-blazed Primrose Brook Trail at signpost #31. Next, the trails cross a feeder brook and Primrose Brook on wide wooden bridges, then recross the Primrose Brook Trail at signpost #30.
After a short climb, the Patriots' Path and Grand Loop Trail turn left at signpost #20 onto the Old Camp Road Trail, the route of the Blue Trail. The trails cross a wooden bridge over a stream and soon arrive at the next intersection (signpost #21). Here, the Grand Loop Trail leaves to the right, but you should continue straight ahead, following the Patriots' Path and the Blue Trail along the Old Camp Road Trail.
The trails cross the paved Jockey Hollow Road just north of the Trail Center parking area (signpost #27). Just ahead, at signpost #26, the Blue Trail leaves to the right. You should continue along the Patriots' Path, which continues ahead, crossing a wooden footbridge over a stream. It then bears left, passes to the right of the parking area, and turns right at signpost #36 onto the route of the green-blazed Aqueduct Loop Trail. It twice crosses Primrose Brook on wooden footbridges, with the Orange Trail joining just before the second footbridge. At signpost #37, the Aqueduct Trail leaves to the left, but you should bear right, continuing to follow the orange and Patriots’ Path blazes along the route of the Soldier Hut Trail.
A short distance ahead, you'll come out on an open field at the intersection of Grand Parade, Cemetery, and Sugarloaf roads (signpost #38), with the Soldiers' Huts visible on a hill to the right. Follow the Patriots' Path ahead as it crosses a grassy expanse and the paved road and climbs to a T-intersection with the Grand Loop Trail (signpost #4). Here, the Patriots' Path turns right, briefly rejoining the Grand Loop Trail. At the next intersection (signpost #5), turn left, leaving the Grand Loop Trail. Just ahead, the Patriots' Path leaves Morristown National Historical Park and enters Lewis Morris County Park.
Continue ahead on the Patriots' Path, now following the route of the Blue Trail in Lewis Morris County Park. The Patriots' Path/Blue Trail descends to a Y-intersection, where it bears right. After briefly joining a dirt road, it bears left, joining the Yellow Trail. For the rest of the way through Lewis Morris County Park, you'll be following blue and yellow blazes, as well as the path-and-tree logo blazes of the Patriots' Path.
The trails now descend on an eroded woods road and soon begin to parallel a stream on the right. After a while, the trails turn right and cross a stream on a wooden bridge. They then bear left, pass to the right of a small water impoundment and reach a covered pavilion with picnic tables. You’ve now hiked over seven miles from the Bernardsville station, and this is a good place to stop for a break.
When you’re ready to continue, bear left and follow the trails as they begin to parallel Sunrise Lake. The trails turn right at a Y- intersection and soon reach a gate at Mendham Road (County 510). Cross the highway at a crosswalk with a pedestrian-activated flashing signal, proceed through a parking area on the opposite side, and continue ahead, crossing a wooden bridge over the Whippany River to join the main part of the Patriots' Path, on which bicycles are permitted.
On the opposite side of the river, follow the Patriots’ Path as it turns right onto a gravel road. For the rest of the route, the Patriots’ Path is marked with white blazes, as well as the tree-and-path logo blazes. The Patriots’ Path soon bears right at a Y-intersection and briefly runs high above the river. After curving away from the river, the trail begins to ascend. It continues to climb on a gravel road, passing through an area overgrown with wild rose and honeysuckle thickets. Upon reaching a T-intersection near the crest of the hill, the trail turns right onto a winding dirt road, which soon continues a more gradual ascent. After a level stretch, the trail turns right onto a footpath and descends steadily.
After leveling off on a gravel road and passing a wet area on the left, the Patriots’ Path reaches paved Whitehead Road at a small gravel parking area. It turns left, crosses the highway bridge over a stream, then turns right and reenters the woods. It soon joins the right-of-way of the former Rockaway Valley Railroad. Built in 1888 and abandoned in 1913, it was dubbed the “Rock-a-Bye Baby” because of its rough railbed. The trail follows the level, gravel-surfaced railbed through wooded wetlands, which are often flooded after heavy rains.
At the next road intersection, Washington Valley Road, an interpretive sign gives the history of the Rockaway Valley Railroad. Here, a blue-blazed branch of the Patriots’ Path leaves to the right, but you should continue straight ahead, following the white blazes along the abandoned railroad right-of-way. East of Sussex Avenue, the next intersection, the trail is paved. Beyond the following intersection, Inamere Road, the railbed proceeds along slightly higher ground.
After crossing Lake Valley Road, the Patriots’ Path detours to the right to bypass a water treatment plant (the Watnong station, the eastern terminus of the railroad, was located here). The trail parallels the Rockaway River, then bears left to run along Watnong Brook. Along the way, it crosses a berm (a remnant of a proposed extension of the railroad that was never completed) and passes another historical marker. Upon reaching Lake Road, the trail turns right, crosses a bridge over Watnong Brook, then bears right and follows a gravel path parallel to the road. After turning right and crossing the Whippany River on a highway bridge, it bears left onto a paved path which soon begins to follow the south shore of Speedwell Lake, ending at a gravel parking area just west of Speedwell Avenue in Morristown. You’ve now hiked about 10.6 miles on the Patriots’ Path (in addition to the two miles from the Bernardsville railroad station to the trailhead).
To reach the Morristown railroad station, turn right onto Speedwell Avenue and follow it to Spring Street. Turn left onto Spring Street, then left again on Morris Street, which leads to the station. Take an eastbound Morristown Line train back to the Summit station, where you began the hike. (On weekends, trains depart at 37 minutes after the hour.)