Turkey Mountain Shorter Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 North to Exit 44 (Main Street, Boonton), and bear right onto Lathrop Avenue. Turn right at the stop sign onto Main Street, which is County Route 511 North. Proceed along Main Street for 0.3 mile, then turn right onto Boonton Avenue. Continue on Boonton Avenue, still designated Route 511, for 3.3 miles to the parking area for the Pyramid Mountain Visitors Center, on the left side of the road (the Visitors Center is opposite Mars Park, about 0.7 mile north of the intersection of Route 511 and Taylortown Road). Stop at the Visitors Center to obtain a free trail map (if the Visitors Center is closed, maps are available from the kiosk in the parking area)
Walk back to the entrance to the parking area and cross Boonton Avenue at a crosswalk just north of Mars Court. At a sign for “Turkey Mt. 100 Steps Trail,” the Yellow Trail begins. Follow this trail, which parallels the road at first, then crosses beneath overhead power lines. It bears right and follows a footpath through the woods, with the power lines on the right. After climbing gradually, the Yellow Trail again emerges onto the power line corridor and ascends a series of rock steps, known as the “100 Steps,” with a west-facing view near the top of the climb.
Continue along the Yellow Trail as it follows the ridge of the mountain for a short distance, then reaches a junction with the Orange Dot Trail. Turn right onto the Orange Dot Trail, which descends through the woods. Be alert for a junction with the Green Dot Trail, which begins on the left. Turn left onto the Green Dot Trail, which soon bears right and reaches a panoramic viewpoint over Lake Valhalla to the south. From the viewpoint, the trail turns sharply left and soon arrives at another junction, marked by a cairn. You'll notice the remains of a small stone cabin alongside the trail. One of several cabins built atop Turkey Mountain, this cabin was never completed, the owner having abandoned it due to the construction of the adjacent power line.
The Green Dot Trail turns right at this junction and begins a steady descent. At the base of the descent, the Green Dot Trail ends at a junction with the Yellow Trail. Turn left onto the Yellow Trail, which goes under the power lines and cross a stream. Continue along the Yellow Trail, which proceeds through a rocky area, makes a short but rather steep descent, then turns left and levels off.
In another quarter mile, the Purple Dot Trail begins on the right. Continue ahead on the Yellow Trail until you reach North Valhalla Brook, with an attractive waterfall on the opposite side of the brook. This is a good place to take a short break.
After enjoying the scenic view, retrace your steps on the Yellow Trail, but when you reach the junction with the Purple Dot Trail, bear left onto the Purple Dot Trail, which passes a large quarry pit on the left and crosses under power lines.
After skirting more quarry pits and passing Botts Pond (below on the left), the Purple Dot Trail descends to cross footbridges over two streams and reaches a junction with an unmarked woods road. Turn right and follow the road for a short distance, then turn right, leaving the road, and climb on an unmarked footpath to a junction with the Yellow Trail at the top of a hill.
Turn left onto the Yellow Trail, which follows the rim of a long, narrow ravine, descending gradually. This ravine is a remnant of a quarry that operated in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, with the crushed rock being used to remove impurities from iron that was smelted in nearby Boonton. Although commonly referred to as "limestone," the rock extracted in this area is more correctly known as dolomitic marble.
Towards the end of the ravine, the Yellow Trail bears right, crosses the ravine, and soon turns left onto a woods road. After crossing a footbridge over a stream, the trail continues along the road for a short distance, then bears right at a double blaze, leaving the woods road, and begins to climb along the hillside. Soon, at a large cairn, the White Trail begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the Yellow Trail, which continues to climb.
In another third of a mile, the Orange Dot Trail crosses. Continue ahead on the Yellow Trail, which is now level and surfaced with gravel. You'll pass two more trail junctions on the left -- first, with the White Trail, then with the Red Dot Trail –- and in half a mile you'll reach Boonton Avenue. Directly across the road are the visitors center and the parking area where the hike began.