Might 23, 2021 – Chester, New Jersey
Size: Roughly 5 miles
Max elevation: 744 ft.– whole elevation achieve roughly 472 ft.
Route kind: Semi-Loop
Avenza App Map: Patriots Path Chester Path Map – Oct. 2017
Trailhead parking: Cooper Mill County Park – Chester, NJ 07930
Giant parking zone – moveable bathroom on website
Black River County Park, a part of the Morris County Park System, consists of 858 acres. It consists of 4 necessary cultural websites – the Cooper Gristmill, Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Middle, Bamboo Brook Out of doors Training Middle, and Willowwood Arboretum – every of which isn’t solely value visiting in its personal proper, but in addition offers entry to trails within the space. A extra complete description of every of those areas will be discovered on the Morris County Park System web page by looking for the title of the cultural website, not “Black River County Park.”
Cooper Gristmill, situated on 14 acres, was in-built 1826 and is without doubt one of the remaining restored water-powered mills in New Jersey. It’s listed on the State and Nationwide Registers of Historic Locations. It’s a residing instance of the state’s transition from an agricultural to an industrial economic system.
Cooper Gristmill is one in every of about 30 entry factors for the Patriots’ Path, which hyperlinks federal, state, county, and municipal parks, watershed lands, historic websites, and different factors of curiosity. The location is managed by the Morris County Park Fee.
The Patriots’ Path stretches from East Hanover, the place it connects with the Lenape Path in Essex County to Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Sussex County, intersecting with the Columbia Path in Washington Township.
Kay’s Cottage ruins sits on property that’s now The Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Middle in Chester. It was as soon as a part of a 233-acre property owned by Elizabeth and Alfred Kay referred to as Hidden River Farm. The property encompassed an array of habitats, together with fields, deciduous forests and a hemlock gorge set alongside the Black River. The Kays constructed carriage trails by fields and woods that wind right down to the Black River the place a dam was constructed to create a deep and calm swimming pool with a diving board. A summer time home was constructed alongside the ‘pool’ with showers, altering rooms, a hearth, and a terrace. Solely the stone foundations and partitions stay right this moment.
Elizabeth and Alfred purchased land in Chester in 1924, together with a late 18th century stone farmhouse that they transformed into a cushty nation property. They lived in Chester through the spring, summer time and fall.
Beginning in 1962, the Kays started donating components of their 233-acre Hidden River Farm to the Morris County Parks Fee for use as an environmental heart, the place “every day would deliver a brand new marvel and problem to study.” The Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Middle in Chester was devoted on October 28, 1993 for “the educating of kids and adults within the pure sciences and the appreciation thereof.”
The Patriots’ Path is blazed with the path-and-tree brand and the abundance of markers, makes it comparatively straightforward to observe.
The part of the Patriots’ Path adopted on this hike is a stage and straightforward stroll alongside the Black River because it runs on an previous railroad mattress for a lot of the route. There are uncovered roots by a lot of the path.
From Cooper Mill, the Patriots’ Path is coaligned with the Black River Path because it heads south (downstream), passing the place an previous trestle of the Hacklebarney Mine Railroad spanned the river. The Patriots’ Path quickly joins the railroad right-of-way, passing alongside Kay’s Pond, just under previous mine areas on the slope to the left. Past the pond is the refurbished dam and the Hacklebarney mine website, that are chained off. The path will be adopted as far south to Willowwood Arboretum in Far Hills, NJ.
Orange Path ~ Follows a woods street that gives entry to Kay’s Cottage alongside the Black River. The path crosses the Black River on a picket bridge, climbs a little bit then descends to the river’s edge.
Inexperienced Path ~ The part between the Patriots’ Path and the Orange Path is a woods street and straightforward strolling. South of the Orange Path it turns into a bit extra rugged because it turns right into a slender footpath that sidehills the steep slope above the east financial institution of the Black River. The path is rocky in locations, uneven with quick steep elevation adjustments and is poorly marked with quite a few blow downs.
Pink Path ~ Follows a woods street simply above the the Inexperienced Path because it heads north. It will definitely leaves the woods street and continues on a footpath. It ends at a junction with the Orange Path.
Connector Trails ~ There are a number of quick connector trails which might be used on this hike. They’re blazed with the 2 colours of the paths that they join.
With excessive temperatures anticipated for the weekend, I used to be seeking to do a hike with some shaded trails and water, whereas maintaining the elevation achieve to a minimal. This turned out to be the right hike for a scorching and humid day. Not solely had been all the trails that had been hiked shaded, however the scenic panorama and the stone ruins saved it attention-grabbing as properly. By getting an early begin, we had the woods principally to ourselves.
The parking zone on a Sunday at 8:40 am.
By the point we returned to the parking zone at about 11:30 am, it was at or close to capability.
The focus of this hike is Kay’s Cottage and the encircling space, however the remainder of the hike was pleasant as properly. Regardless that this hike is on the decrease spectrum of a reasonable hike, sections of the Inexperienced and Pink Trails gave it a extra backwoods really feel.
From the northwest nook of the parking space, proceed west to the stone Cooper Gristmill. The mill, in-built 1826, is open for excursions in the summertime and on weekends within the spring and fall. Descend the steps alongside the mill and head south on the blue-blazed spur of the Patriots’ Path (blazed with the path-and-tree brand), which crosses a number of tributary streams on picket bridges and several other moist areas on puncheons.
A couple of third of a mile from the beginning, the path turns left onto an deserted railroad grade – the previous route of the Hacklebarney Department of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, in-built 1873 to hold iron ore from mines alongside the river and deserted in 1900. The path follows this railroad grade for the following mile. Though it was deserted over a century in the past, the right-of-way is in remarkably good situation.
Half a mile from the beginning, you’ll move Kay Pond (previously often known as Hacklebarney Pond) on the fitting. Right here, the railroad needed to be blasted by a rock reduce, and the drill marks from the blasting should still be seen within the rock. The small constructing on the south finish of Kay Pond was as soon as used to retailer ice reduce from the pond within the winter.
After passing the stone dam on the finish of the pond, the path goes by a bridge over the Black River (closed to vehicular site visitors), turns left, and passes a fenced-in space on the left. That is the location of the previous Hacklebarney Mine, the place a substantial quantity of iron ore was mined within the final quarter of the nineteenth century. The path proceeds alongside the scenic river. Quickly, the railroad grade ends and the path continues on a barely rougher footpath parallel to the river.
About 1.2 miles from the beginning, after crossing two picket footbridges over tributary streams, the path reaches deserted concrete abutments within the river, the remnants of a former bridge. Right here, the path bears left and begins to go uphill on a large woods street. It quickly reaches the beginning of the Inexperienced Path, which begins on the fitting.
Flip proper on the Inexperienced Path, marked by three inexperienced blazes on a publish. The Inexperienced Path follows a large path for about 350 yards (0.2 mile), then reaches a 4 means junction with the Orange Path.
Flip proper on the Orange Path and observe the woods street downhill in direction of the Black River. The path passes a junction with the Inexperienced/Orange Connector Path (you’ll return again to this spot) and continues throughout the Black River on a picket bridge. The path continues uphill, away from the river then curves to the left, parallels the river from excessive above and begins to descend because it approaches the river.
Because the path descends, the river will come into sight, maintain an eye fixed out on the left for stone steps main right down to Kay’s Cottage. Take the steps downhill to the ruins of Kay’s Cottage subsequent to a dam and waterfall. You might need to take a while right here to take a look at these attention-grabbing stone ruins.
When you’re able to proceed, climb again up the stone steps, flip proper and retrace your route again to the bridge. Facet word: we turned left and walked the Orange Path for about 300 ft to its terminus on the base of the river, however there’s nothing to see in that path.
Simply after crossing the bridge, flip proper on the Inexperienced/Orange Connector Path which begins on a woods street, however quickly descends in direction of the river on a footpath.
The path leaves the river and begins to climb the hill, though the footpath is discernible, we didn’t spot any blazes. There was multiple path entering into the identical path so we might have been on the fallacious path or a blowdown might have altered our route. We didn’t see the place the connector path ended and the Inexperienced Path began. Ultimately the inexperienced blazes appeared and we adopted them alongside the steep hillside on a slender footpath. After a number of ups and downs and climbing over blowdowns, the path descends to the Black River immediately reverse of Kay’s Cottage Ruins.
The sq. concrete block on the fitting is the place the diving board was situated.
When you’re able to proceed, proceed south on the Inexperienced Path which climbs and descends alongside the river. The path is slender and runs alongside the steep hillside, so take care as you traverse this portion of the path. This part of path is extra wild and has a sense of remoteness. In about 425 yards, the Inexperienced Path reaches a stone chimney and stone foundations on the fitting.
It is a good place to take a break and luxuriate in the fantastic thing about your environment.
When you’re able to proceed, proceed uphill on the Inexperienced Path a brief distance to its terminus at a junction with the Pink Path. Proceed uphill, now following the pink blazes. DO NOT TURN RIGHT. The Pink Path curves to the left and heads in a northeasterly path on a stage large observe which quickly turns right into a extra rugged footpath because it descends a little bit. The Pink Path runs parallel to the Inexperienced Path, increased up the slope. The Pink Path passes a junction with a light Grey Path which connects to the Inexperienced Path down beneath. Veer proper at this junction to proceed following the pink blazes. The Pink Path now begins a gradual climb and in virtually half a mile from the junction with the Inexperienced Path, the Pink Path ends at a T-intersection with a woods street, the route of the Orange Path.
Circled are three inexperienced blazes indicating the top of the Inexperienced Path.
Whereas I used to be standing by this tree ready for my climbing mates to catch up, A coyote got here up the slope, walked alongside the path for about 15 ft, then ran up the hillside. Each time that I raised the digital camera, it could run about 10 ft increased, all of the whereas taking a look at me. It was watching me as I used to be watching it. I’ve seen a number of coyotes within the woods, however this was the most important by far.
Flip left on the Orange Path which heads north on the woods street.
In about 210 yards, the Orange Path involves a Y-intersection with one other woods street and veers left. Flip RIGHT at this junction, the route of the Blue/Orange Connector Path.
In about 220 yards, the Blue/Orange Connector Path involves a Y-intersection with the Patriots’ Path. This junction isn’t properly marked, however you must flip left right here. A couple of ft after turning left, you’ll move the junction with the Inexperienced Path on the left that you simply took earlier within the hike. Proceed forward on the Patriots’ Path. From that time you’ll be retracing your steps, heading north, again to the Cooper Gristmill, the place the hike started.
Once we returned to the parking zone at roughly 11:30 am, it was at or close to capability.
A superb hike alongside the Black River with quite a few factors of curiosity. This hike is ideal for a scorching and humid day as your complete hike was shaded from the solar. A very good mixture of properly graded woods roads/railbed and rugged footpaths. Kay’s Cottage Ruins are eye-catching as is the view of them from throughout the river. The paths are properly marked, however the junctions might use some signage. The Inexperienced Path, south of the Orange Path, is a extra wild and distant space. Though we did not see some blazes in that space, it might have been as a result of a blowdown alongside the path that redirected our route. Carry a map and compass and also you shouldn’t have any points. Though the parking zone was full once we returned, we began early sufficient (8:40 am) that we solely encountered a number of individuals all through the hike. All in all a terrific day on the paths.
Kay’s Cottage Ruins, Black River, giant parking zone, properly marked trails, scenic panorama.
Path junctions might use some signage.
Take a hike!