Cushetunk Mountain Preserve
Directions to trailhead
I-78 West to Exit 24 for County Road 523/Oldwick toward County Road 517/Whitehouse. Turn left on County Road 523/Oldwick Road and proceed for 2.1 miles. Turn left on US-22 East and immediately get into the right lane to turn right on County Road 523/Main Street in .2 mile. Continue for 1.1 miles, turn right on Mountain Road then left into Pickell Park. Proceed to the right in the parking lot towards the kiosk at the far end of the ball field.
Please note that due to trail closures for eagle nesting on Cushetunk Mountain, part of the route of this hike is closed from January 1 to August 1. There are only partial views of Round Valley Reservoir from the ridge of Cushetunk Mountain when there is foliage on the trees so the best time to hike for views and to avoid trail closures would be November/December.
From the parking lot at Pickell Park, face the ball field then head to the right towards a kiosk, which denotes the beginning of the blue-blazed Readington Connector Trail. Proceed on the paved path between the ball field and the chain link fence. Be sure to look to your left in case hot air balloons are taking off from Readington! At the corner of the ball field, turn right on a gravel path, which becomes a mowed grass path following the perimeters of old Vislocky Farm fields.
In another tenth of a mile follow the markers to the right, then left, then right again on a pretty tree-lined woods road separating farm fields on either side. At a yellow marker, turn right then right again to another field. This last right turn is not marked but you will see yellow markers up ahead. Follow the mowed path around the perimeter of the field, exit the field downhill into the woods and rock hop a creek at the ruins of an old dam.
When yellow ends at blue, turn right on blue, rock hop a creek then enter a power cut. Another yellow trail leaves to the right and will join back in with the blue power cut trail in .15 mile. This trail is not on the map but can be used as an alternate route. Follow the blue trail through the power cut as it veers left into the woods and begins a steady uphill climb that will become steeper as you ascend Cushetunk Mountain.
In .35 mile, when almost at the top, turn left on a white-blazed trail when blue continues to the right. This white-blazed trail is not shown on the map. The white blazes end at a seasonal view of Round Valley Reservoir but the trail continues along the ridge. This trail is also not shown on the map. Keep following this unmarked, yet well-defined trail, which follows along with the signs marking the preserve boundary on the right. There will be additional seasonal views of Round Valley Reservoir along this ridge as well as a few rock scrambles.
In half of a mile, meet up with the white-blazed Ridge Trail at a trail closure sign and turn left. This white-blazed trail will continue to follow the rugged ridge of Cushetunk Mountain. In .6 mile at a T-intersection turn right on white. The white-blazed trail is now called Parking Lot Trail and descends to a parking lot in a power cut in a little over half of a mile.
At the parking lot, turn right at the chain barrier and proceed into the power cut. Watch for the yellow-blazed Scout Trail a short distance ahead and turn right on this trail. The yellow trail ascends, steeply at times, on steps built into the mountainside through very pretty forests. When yellow ends in .8 mile, turn right on white for .3 mile then left on blue. In .6 mile, turn left on blue as it descends where the white trail taken at the beginning of the hike leaves to the right. From this point, retrace your steps back to the Pickell Park parking lot.
[ 0.00] Facing the ball field, turn right and walk towards the kiosk then follow the blue diamond markers along the chain link fence
[ 0.15] At the corner of the paved path, veer right on gravel path into farm field; keep right
[ 0.25] Jog right then left then right on tree lined woods road between farm fields
[ 0.40] Turn right on yellow then right again at field (no turn marker)
[ 0.55] Exit field downhill into the woods
[ 0.60] Rock hop creek at old dam
[ 0.75] Right on blue when yellow ends
[ 0.80] Rock hop over creek
[ 0.90] Straight on blue into power cut when yellow (not on map) goes right
[ 1.05] Straight on blue when yellow (not on map) comes in from right; blue leaves power cut to the left uphill into woods
[ 1.40] Left on white when blue goes right
[ 1.60] White blazes stop at seasonal view; continue on unmarked foot path along preserve boundary
[ 2.10] Unmarked trail ends at trail closure sign when white comes in from the right; keep left on white around large downed tree trunk and continue along ridge
[ 2.70] At T-intersection turn right on white (Parking Lot Trail)
[ 3.25] Turn right into power cut at parking area
[ 3.30] Turn right on yellow trail (Scout Trail); keep straight at fork
[ 3.80] Keep right at fork
[ 4.10] Right on white Readington Connector Trail when yellow ends
[ 4.40] Turn left on blue trail
[ 5.00] Turn left on blue when white goes uphill to the right
[ 5.40] Blue trail goes through power cut
[ 5.45] Turn left on yellow (not on map) when blue continues straight in power cut
[ 5.60] Turn left on blue when yellow ends
[ 5.70] Continue on blue through farm fields and tree lined woods road
[ 5.80] Keep right at fork
[ 5.90] Straight on blue when yellow goes left
[ 6.15] Enter ball field on gravel path
[ 6.30] Back at Pickell Park parking