Sunday, October 19, 2008

Split Rock Reservoir Trail Hike

Thanks to Ken Bitz, we are discovering a world of trails around Smoke Rise and Kinnelon, NJ. First, the Lake Kinnelon Walk and now the Split Lake Reservoir Hike. It's really exciting!

Although we missed the hike organized for mid-September [soccer practice], Ken provided us with enough guidance that we were able to do it on our own.

Here's what astounded me the most.  The first part of the trail to Split Rock goes along a trail called "Mountain Road."  This truly is a road.  Or, rather, it was a road.  It is large enough to walk 4 abreast [although it's more comfortable with two as the trail has plenty of loose rocks'.  With each step you can imagine yourself walking through time.  

You understand how a 7 mile distance might have taken half a day or more depending on conditions...  and why Francis Kinney would have built St. Hubert's chapel for his wife.

I also pictured myself walking through the Shire on a quest... 

Ken referred us to a 1988 trail map and description issued by the Smoke Rise Trails Committee which no longer exists. 

The document includes 6 trails:
+ West Shore Lake Trail [described in Lake Kinnelon Walk]
+ Cherry Tree Lane Trail [which I haven't been able to locate]
+ Hemlock Trail
+ Mountain Road Trail
+ Split Rock Trail - described here
+ Old Country Road Trail 

The Smoke Rise Office hands out an updated trail document which does not list the Cherry Tree Lane Trail [although it still appears on the map], but includes instead:

+ Mountain Road/New Pond Trail - partially described here
+ New Pond Trail
+ NY/NJ Trail Conference Split Rock Trail

Here's the route we took for this glorious hike.

We parked at the end of Beechwood Lane [west of Red Oak Lane.  From there, we proceeded on foot.  The trail head - located between lots #20 and #21 - leads to Mountain Road trail which runs from North to South [and is most probably the extension of Mountain Road in Smoke Rise]. As the description reads "this is basically an old woods road which is quite wet in spots during the wet season." Mountain Road trail is marked with blue blazes.

Approximately one mile down Mountain Road trail, we found the Split Rock trail which is marked white. Note the picture above with the trail markers:  a white arrow on one tree and 2 white marks on the other.  You can't miss it.  It's a large turnoff on the right, heading West, as you proceed South on Mountain Road.

The white trail [also marked with red circle blazes, black blazes and dark blue blazes] takes you directly to Charlottesburg Road [another old woods road] along Split Rock Reservoir.  There, you take a right, heading North for a bit [3 to 5 minutes] until you see a wide turnoff on the left [also marked white] that takes you to the edge of the reservoir.  It's a popular spot as there's a fire pit and rustic seating.

The view [here before the leaves started turning] is spectacular.  Hard to believe it's so close to civilization. 

Roundtrip, including a stop to admire Split Rock, takes about 2 hours.

Note:  The Split Rock Reservoir is one of 13 major water supply reservoirs for New Jersey. Others include:  Lake Tappan, Woodcliff Lake, Oradell Reservoir, DeForest Lake, Splitrock Reservoir, Boonton Reservoir, Canistear Reservoir, Oak Ridge Reservoir, Clinton Reservoir, Charlottesburg Reservoir, Echo Lake, Wanaque Reservoir and Spruce Run Reservoir.  Most are in our neck of the woods.

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