Just beyond the parking area, turn left onto the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. Almost immediately, the orange-blazed Turtle Back Trail joins from the left, and you proceed uphill on a wide path, following both yellow and orange blazes. After passing through a pine grove, you’ll reach a junction where the yellow-blazed trail turns right to cross South Orange Avenue on a pedestrian bridge....
Just beyond the parking area, turn left onto the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. Almost immediately, the orange-blazed Turtle Back Trail joins from the left, and you proceed uphill on a wide path, following both yellow and orange blazes. After passing through a pine grove, you’ll reach a junction where the yellow-blazed trail turns right to cross South Orange Avenue on a pedestrian bridge.
Continue straight ahead, leaving the Lenape Trail, and follow the orange-blazed Turtle Back Trail, which curves right, then left, and passes a huge tree. After crossing a bridle path at a culvert, follow the orange blazes uphill at a signpost for the Turtle Back Trail. Watch for a double blaze and continue along the orange trail as it turns left onto a footpath and climbs on switchbacks. The trail follows along the side of a hill, overlooking the valley below, then winds around more switchbacks and begins to parallel a ravine below on the right.
After climbing yet another switchback, you’ll reach a four-way junction where an orange/white trail begins on the left. You should turn right to continue on the orange-blazed Turtle Back Trail. A short distance below, the orange trail approaches a bridle path but turns left and continues on a footpath. Follow the trail, which now heads north, roughly parallel to a bridle path on the right, which comes into view occasionally.
The orange trail proceeds along a relatively level footpath, passing a number of trees that were felled by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. After crossing three more bridle paths in the next mile, the trail reaches a T-intersection. Here, the orange blazes turn left, but you should turn right and begin to follow an orange/white-blazed trail. When you reach a bridle path (with a parking area visible ahead), turn left, but when the bridle path curves left just ahead, continue straight on a footpath (at this writing, some orange/white blazes along the bridle path are missing).
The orange/white-blazed trail soon curves to the left and begins to run above the very busy Northfield Avenue. Watch carefully for a right turn that leads to Turtle Back Rock - named for the patterns on the surface of the rock. When the basalt rock of the Watchungs fractured into small hexagonal blocks, the cracks that were created filled with minerals. The basalt wore away faster than the minerals, leaving the rock with patterned markings, similar to those on the back of a turtle. The best examples of these “turtle back” patterns can be seen on the back of the large rock, as well on smaller adjacent rocks.
After crossing another bridle path, you’ll reach a four-way junction. Continue straight ahead, now once again following the orange-blazed trail. Over the next mile, the trail crosses two bridle paths and begins to descend. As it descends steadily, the southern end of the Orange Reservoir may be visible through the trees on the right during leaf-off season.
Be alert for a sharp right turn where the orange-blazed trail descends to cross another bridle path, then bears left and continues to descend on a woods road. Just before reaching a stream, the orange trail turns left onto a footpath and continues parallel to the stream. After climbing a little and passing a cascade in the stream below, the trail continues through a pine grove. It soon reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, where you should turn right and descend to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/18/2013 updated/verified on 04/13/2013
This circuit hike loops around the northern section of the reservation and passes the interesting Turtle Back Rock.
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.