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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lake Kinnelon Walk

I mentioned, in Welcome To The Smoke Rise Blog, a recent hike. More specifically, this was a July 4th walk along a 1.3 mile trail fronting Lake Kinnelon in Smoke Rise, NJ.

From the image to the left, you see my approximation of the trail [note the white, straight line to the left of the lake].

This walk was magical. My niece, Kelly, accompanied us. The day was understated - muggy, misty grey and quiet - but perfect for on foot exploration. Perhaps twenty of us, including three dogs, had assembled for this trek.

Our guide, Ken Bitz, whom you see below pointing, shared the following information with us:

Lake Kinnelon was formerly known as Stickle Pond. It became Lake Kinnelon in 1925 when the town of Kinnelon was incorporated. Prior to becoming incorporated, Kinnelon was part of Pequannock.

I found this reference to the lake from page 3 of HYDROLOGIC ENGINEERING USING THE HEC-HMS MODULE: "Stickle Pond (Lake Kinnelon) is located in Morris County, New Jersey at a latitude 41°00’ and longitude
74°25’. Its surface area is 124 acres, which accounts for 7.4% of the total 1683 acres of its watershed."
[Note: this document includes some fascinating topographic charts.]

Lake Kinnelon was dammed in 1888 via a dam built in Talbot Cove [in the photo above, Talbot Cove is the right-most cove] which raised the lake level by three feet. Before the dam was built, a dirt road went from the Causeway [the site of the current boat launch] to West Short Drive [from the photo above, imagine a road extending across from the topmost road parallel to the top of the photo across the lake]. That is now under water.

The dam is topped with a series of 8" boards that can be adjusted to regulate water flow. Water flows along the exit road by the East Gate and into Forge Pond.

Many streams [like Noisy Brook] and underground springs feed the lake.

Tree stumps line the bottom of the lake. Before the dam was built, all the trees growing in what was to become the enlarged lake were cut down, but the stumps were never removed.

The lake includes four islands [circled faintly in red in the image above]: at the top: Duck Island; bottom middle: Chapel Island, the most famous and distinguished island because of its chapel, built in 1896 shortly after the dam and expansion of the lake; at the bottom, Blueberry Island and tiny Pea Island.

The lake includes several coves:
+ North Cove [at the top]
+ Talbot Cove [to the bottom right]
+ Bass or Ice House Cove [to the bottom, middle] + Pickerel Cove [bottom, left]

The lake averages a depth of 6 feet, deepening to 14 feet in Talbot Cove.

John Carpenter - pictured here looking at the camera - has been intensely involved in managing the ecosystem of the lake, including its fish stock. Lake Kinnelon has been cited "as being of great clarity and natural balance between wildlife and people." The algae carpet provides excellent nutrition for the fish.

Each year, the lake is stocked with fish, paid for with Smoke Rise fishing license fees, which this year included 10,000 minnows, 100 shiners, 200 wall eye fish, 500 adult fish [sunfish, bluegill, yellow perch, pickerel, bass, catfish, cray fish] and snails, mussels and newts in the swimming area to keep the water clear. The lake has a healthy population of turtles.

We've seen recent growth in the beaver population which had led to banding trees to prevent them from being downed.

Parts of the lake are treated with algaecide [i.e., the swim area] and other parts, hydro-raked for weeds [e.g., the North Cove area].

The walk - as I mentioned - was magical, with each step bringing another aspect of the lakefront in view. I didn't know where to look first as the path itself was rather amazing with moss clumps, winding waterways and puddingstone boulders.

I hope to do it again soon.


NOTE added 10/6/08: 
The West Shore Trail is marked yellow, per the Smoke Rise & Locale Trail Directions.

The northern trailhead is just before lot #783 on West Shore Drive.  The trail can also be accessed at the mid-point by way of a 100 ft. access at lot #801.  The trail runs along the lakeshore, provides numerous viewpoints and access to Pickerel Point.  It has also been developed as a nature trail with 24 species of trees marked with silver dials numbered for identification.  [I will look for these next time I walk the trail.] The southern trailhead can also be accessed between lots #825 and #829.

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PS: My personal thanks to George Cox for helping me figure out names.
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