From the kiosk at the northeast corner of the parking area, follow the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, which bears right onto a gravel road leading to a picnic area. The trail continues through the picnic area, then bears left and begins to climb the First Watchung Mountain on a wide path. It bears right at a fork, then turns right at a T intersection (marked by a chain-link fence) onto a woods...
From the kiosk at the northeast corner of the parking area, follow the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, which bears right onto a gravel road leading to a picnic area. The trail continues through the picnic area, then bears left and begins to climb the First Watchung Mountain on a wide path. It bears right at a fork, then turns right at a T intersection (marked by a chain-link fence) onto a woods road, continuing to climb. At the top of the ascent, follow the yellow blazes as they turn left, leaving the road, and continue on a footpath to the paved Crest Drive (closed to vehicular traffic), where they turn left along the road.
As the road curves to the right, the New York City skyline may be seen to the left on a clear day (if there are no leaves on the trees), with the towers of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge visible in the distance to the right. Just ahead – before reaching a plaque on a boulder commemorating a Revolutionary War battle that took place near here – the trail turns left, leaving the road, and descends to an observation platform with stone pillars at the site of Washington Rock, from which George Washington surveyed the countryside during the American Revolution. The view from here is to the southwest, with Millburn and the NJ Transit railroad tracks visible below (partially obscured by the trees), and Watchung Reservation – the continuation of the Watchung range beyond the Millburn-Springfield gap – ahead in the distance. This is a good place to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, turn left and follow the Lenape Trail, which descends on a footpath. Soon, you’ll notice an unmarked side trail to the left that leads to a fenced overlook over an abandoned quarry, with Millburn and the Watchung range in the distance. A short distance beyond, the Lenape Trail crosses a bridle path and enters a remote, less-used area of the reservation. After a short descent, it crosses a small stream, with the Maple Falls Cascade – where the stream plunges down a 25-foot sluiceway of exposed basalt – to the left, downstream.
The trail now follows a relatively level footpath. After crossing another bridle path, it turns sharply right at Lilliput Knob and reaches Beech Brook Cascades – where two brooks converge – about two miles from the start. Beyond the cascade, the trail begins a gradual climb, paralleling a brook in a shallow ravine to the right. After bearing left and crossing a bridle path, the trail climbs to reach Mines Point – named for exploratory pits dug by copper prospectors circa 1800. Here, the trail bears right and heads north, first climbing gently through a relatively open area, then descending to reach Ball’s Bluff, where old stone pillars are remnants of a picnic shelter built in 1908.
The Lenape Trail continues to descend, crossing a bridle path on the way. Towards the base of the descent, it begins to parallel a stream in a ravine to the right. After crossing the stream and turning left, it reaches an eroded road, turns right and climbs to the top of a rise. The trail bears left, leaving the road, descends along a switchback, then turns sharply left. Just beyond, it reaches the base of Hemlock Falls, a scenic waterfall, and crosses a footbridge over the stream. A red-blazed trail climbs stone steps to the top of the waterfall, and benches afford an opportunity to rest and enjoy the beautiful setting.
From the falls, the Lenape Trail heads west along the stream. After again crossing the stream, it turns left and soon reaches a junction with a wide bridle path, marked by a signpost for the Rahway Trail. The Lenape Trail turns right at this junction, but you should continue ahead, now following the white blazes of the Rahway Trail. This trail will be your route for the remainder of the hike.
After curving to the left, the trail turns right and crosses the Rahway River on rocks. It immediately turns left to parallel the stream. Soon, it climbs gradually to run along the side of the hill. This is a particularly beautiful section of the hike.
In about half a mile from the stream crossing, you’ll reach an intersection with a bridle path. Turn left, following the white blazes, recross the river on a stone-faced bridge, and immediately turn right onto a footpath.
The white-blazed trail now heads south, running between the bridle path (to the left) and the river (to the right). For most the way, the trail closely parallels the river. In half a mile, the road on the opposite side of the river (Brookside Drive) begins to run directly along the river. Just beyond, in a rhododendron grove, the white blazes briefly join the bridle path, then continue ahead when the bridle path bears left. The trail joins the bridle path briefly several more times, so pay careful attention to the blazes.
You’ll pass to the left of Campbell’s Pond, where a large abandoned brick building – which once served as a pumping station for the City of Orange – may be seen along the river. After passing Diamond Mill Pond, the Rahway Trail turns left, away from the river, and it ends at the Locust Grove parking area, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 02/24/2004 updated/verified on 05/15/2010
This loop hike includes a panoramic viewpoint, a scenic waterfall, and a stroll along a pleasant stream.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.