This hike follows a section of the Stonetown Circular Trail (also the route of the Highlands Trail) which traverses Long Pond Ironworks State Park and watershed lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (NJDWSC). The hike begins and ends with fairly steep climbs, but for most of the way, the route you will be following is either level or downhill. On the second half of the...
This hike follows a section of the Stonetown Circular Trail (also the route of the Highlands Trail) which traverses Long Pond Ironworks State Park and watershed lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (NJDWSC). The hike begins and ends with fairly steep climbs, but for most of the way, the route you will be following is either level or downhill. On the second half of the hike, which goes through NJDWSC watershed lands east of Stonetown Road, hikers are requested to remain on the marked trails.
At the end of the paved Lake Riconda Drive, you will see three black-diamond-on-teal-diamond blazes on a tree. They mark the start of a connector trail to the Highlands Trail. Follow the black-diamond-on-teal-diamond-blazed trail, which enters the woods on a woods road, then immediately turns left onto a footpath, passing a private home on the left. After crossing a stream, the trail begins to climb Harrison Mountain. At first the climb is gradual, but it soon steepens.
Near the top, the trail turns left and begins to follow along the left side of a power line clearing. Soon, it bears left and reenters the woods. It briefly joins a woods road, then turns right, leaving the road, and continues to climb. After a brief level stretch, the trail crosses a woods road. Just ahead, it bears right, and the climb steepens. At the top of the steep climb, the trail emerges on open rocks under the power lines, with a panoramic 270° view. The Monksville Reservoir is visible to the north, with Windbeam Mountain to the southeast, and Bear and Board Mountains to its north. You’ll want to take a break here and rest from the steep climb.
When you’re ready to continue, follow the black-diamond-on-teal-diamond-blazed trail as it briefly descends, crosses a woods road, quickly bears left and resumes its climb. After a sharp right turn, the connector trail ends at a junction with the red-triangle-on-white-blazed Stonetown Circular Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail at the summit of Harrison Mountain.
Turn right and follow the joint Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail, which begins a steady descent along the north slope of Harrison Mountain. At a viewpoint over the Monksville Reservoir, the trail turns right, crosses under the power lines and continues to descend. After crossing the outlet stream of Lake Riconda, the trail turns right onto a woods road, then immediately bears left and joins another woods road which descends gently and soon approaches the edge of the reservoir. Here, the trail joins a woods road that comes in from the left. The Monksville Dam is visible on the right, and Monks Mountain is on the left, across the reservoir. This is another attractive spot to take a break and enjoy the views.
The Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail bears right and follows the woods road around an arm of the reservoir. It crosses a culvert over a stream (with an interesting stone wall to the right), goes around a locked gate and reaches Stonetown Road. (The gated paved road leading down to the reservoir is the original route of Stonetown Road, drowned under the reservoir when it was filled with water.)
The trail climbs over the guardrail, crosses Stonetown Road diagonally to the left, and reenters the woods at the northern end of the fence on the east side of the road. Follow the red-triangle-on-white and teal diamond blazes as the trail crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, climbs a small rise and continues on a relatively level route. You are now on lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, where hikers are requested to remain on the marked trails.
After descending gradually, the trail turns right onto a woods road and crosses a stream on rocks. It then turns left, leaving the woods road, and traverses another relatively level stretch. The trail crosses a woods road and then a stream bordered by an old stone wall. It climbs to another woods road and turns left to follow the road, which descends to cross a stream, then climbs gradually. In a third of a mile, follow the Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail as it turns left, leaving the road (watch carefully for the double blaze), and continues on a footpath.
A short distance ahead, you’ll reach a junction where another connector trail, also marked with a black diamond on a teal diamond, begins. Turn right and follow this connector trail, which climbs very gently. After turning left onto a woods road, the trail levels off. It turns right onto another woods road, then turns left onto a footpath and begins to climb more steeply. Along the way, it crosses a woods road and intersects with several other footpaths.
At a T-intersection of footpaths at the crest of the rise, the trail turns right, briefly descends, then turns left onto a wide woods road. In another 300 feet, the connector trail ends at paved White Road. Turn right and follow this quiet residential road downhill for half a mile to Stonetown Road, then turn left and follow Stonetown Road for a quarter mile to Lake Riconda Drive. Turn right onto Lake Riconda Drive and follow it to its end, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/12/2007 updated/verified on 06/21/2020
This loop hike climbs steeply to the summit of Harrison Mountain, with panoramic views, descends to the Monksville Reservoir, and returns via pleasant woods roads and footpaths.
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
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- 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.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- 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.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 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.