India Brook Park and Buttermilk Falls Natural Area (Mendham, NJ)
Directions to trailhead
Take I-80 West to Exit 43 and head south on I-287 (towards Morristown). Take Exit 39B of I-287 (NJ 10) and head west on Route 10 for 8.6 miles. At a sign for Dover-Chester Road, turn right, then turn left onto Dover-Chester Road and cross Route 10. Proceed south on Dover-Chester Road for 3.0 miles and bear left onto South Road. Continue along South Road for 1.8 miles and turn left onto Ironia Road (do not turn right onto Ironia Road in Randolph, which you will pass along the way). In 0.2 mile, turn left at a sign for India Brook Park, and continue a short distance to a large parking area on the right.
From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, proceed downhill along the left edge of a grassy field. At the end of the field, enter the woods and head downhill on a wide path, following the sign “To Falls.” At the base of the descent, turn right (following the sign "To Falls") and head downstream along India Brook to an old stone fireplace. Just beyond is Buttermilk Falls, an attractive cascade.
Retrace your steps to the junction and continue ahead along the brook on a footpath. You’ll soon begin to climb the hillside, passing under several fallen trees and through a narrow passage between rocks. A short distance ahead, you’ll pass the site of the Lewis Forge, marked by a sign.
Soon, you’ll come to a footbridge over the brook. Turn right and cross the bridge, then turn right and proceed south along the brook. When you reach a berm (a remnant of the dam built for the Lewis Forge), turn left and head uphill to a trail marked with yellow and white blazes. Turn right onto this trail, which heads south along the brook, soon reaching Buttermilk Falls (now viewed from the opposite side of the brook).
Bear left and continue ahead on the white trail, which gradually climbs the hillside, bears left, then descends a little to a junction with the red trail, which joins from the right. A short distance beyond, the white trail turns right. Continue ahead on the red trail, following the sign to “Wood Duck Pond.” After descending a little more, the trail turns left and climbs to the pond – actually, a phragmites-filled wetland. At the end of the pond, turn left and climb to a wide, grassy road (shown on the hikemendham.org maps as the “Buttermilk Falls Walkway” or the “Woodchip Trail”).
Turn left onto this unmarked road, following the sign to “Frog Pond.” The road climbs to the top of a rise and descends to the pond, also filled with phragmites. [NOTE: During wet periods, this unmarked grassy road may be flooded and impassable in places.] Here, you’ll reach another junction. Continue ahead on the grassy road, following the sign to “Combs Hollow Road.”
In another 0.6 mile, you reach a trail junction. Continue ahead on the grassy road. Just beyond, at an abandoned building, the blue trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead towards Combs Hollow Road, following the wide, grassy road. Just before reaching the parking area, a sign on the right marks the start of the blue trail (the sign faces the opposite direction, so if you come to the parking area, turn around, head south for a short distance, and you will see the sign on the left). Turn right and follow the blue trail, which begins as a footpath through the woods, then bears right and joins a woods road. Soon, you’ll pass two small ponds (once part of the water supply for the Borough of Mendham) and reach the end of the blue trail at the abandoned building. Turn left onto the grassy road, but almost immediately, at the next junction, turn right onto a yellow-blazed trail, following the sign “To Falls.”
Head south along the yellow trail, parallel to the brook, below on your right. When you reach a sign for the “Bridge,” turn right and descend to the brook. Turn right, follow the brook upstream to the bridge, cross the bridge, turn left, and retrace your steps back to the parking area where the hike began.