Proceed west (downhill) on the extension of New Providence Road, marked with the white blazes of the Sierra Trail. At a large sign that reads "Nature Trail," turn left, and follow the white-blazed Sierra Trail, now joined by the Green Trail, across a brook. The trails climb to reach a T-intersection. Turn right here, continuing to follow the green and white blazes, which are also joined by...
Proceed west (downhill) on the extension of New Providence Road, marked with the white blazes of the Sierra Trail. At a large sign that reads "Nature Trail," turn left, and follow the white-blazed Sierra Trail, now joined by the Green Trail, across a brook. The trails climb to reach a T-intersection. Turn right here, continuing to follow the green and white blazes, which are also joined by yellow blazes.
At the base of the descent, the green blazes continue ahead, crossing a wide wooden bridge. Turn left here, now following white and orange blazes. Continue ahead at the next junction, where the Orange Trail leaves to the right and the Yellow Trail begins, but at the following junction, turn right, now following only white blazes. Soon, you'll begin to parallel a scenic gorge to the left. Along the way, the Blue Trail joins, and the path begins to descend.
At the end of the gorge, the Blue Trail leaves to the right, but you should turn left, continuing to follow the white-blazed Sierra Trail, which parallels Blue Brook. When the white blazes turn left, uphill, continue ahead on an unmarked footpath along the brook. The path soon descends to the brook, then turns right and crosses it on rocks. On the other side, climb the bank and turn left onto an unmarked path that follows a berm along the side of the hill.
When the path ends at a wide dirt road, bear right and continue uphill to a T-intersection, then turn right onto a paved road, entering the Deserted Village of Feltville. The village was named for David Felt, who founded it in 1845, and several historic buildings have been restored.
The Sierra Trail follows the paved road through the village, passing several restored buildings. In a quarter mile, just beyond a private residence, the trail turns right onto a bridle path. In 200 feet, it turns right again and soon passes a small cemetery with graves of settlers from the 1700s.
The road soon narrows to a footpath which meanders through the woods. In a third of a mile, the white-blazed trail turns right, descends on a dirt road for 400 feet, then turns left, leaving the road, and immediately bears right onto a footpath.
Soon, the trail reaches the stone dam of Surprise Lake, built in 1845 to provide power for David Felt's paper mill. The Sierra Trail continues along the northwestern shore of this long but narrow lake for almost a mile, then turns right at paved Tracy Drive, crossing the lake on the shoulder of the vehicular bridge. On the other side, the white blazes turn left, crossing the road.
Follow the white blazes for only 100 feet and turn right onto an unmarked bridle path. Just beyond, another wide path goes off to the left, but you continue ahead. In 0.2 mile, the white-blazed trail rejoins the bridle path. Continue ahead for the next 0.4 mile, but do not turn left where the white blazes leave the path near the traffic circle; instead, bear right, continuing to follow the unmarked bridle path across the paved road.
n 500 feet, leave the bridle path and bear right onto the white-blazed Sierra Trail, which crosses the Red Trail and then joins it. In about half a mile, the trail reaches the Trailside Nature and Science Center. Turn right onto the path leading to the center, then turn left to reach the parking area where you began the hike.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 03/12/2009
This loop hike passes an historic village, a cemetery from the 1700s and an attractive lake.
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.