Bearfort Fire Tower

Bearfort Fire Tower, Pequannock Watershed (1/28/2012)

After a week of some unseasonably warm weather and some driving rain, the half foot of snow that was on the trails of Northern New Jersey just six days ago was completely gone this morning. We headed back to the Pequannock Watershed to hike some trails we hadn't done before. We love the watershed. The fact that you need a permit to hike in this area guarantees that trail traffic will be light (unlike, say, Harriman where the multitude of parked cars emanating from Reeves Vistor's Center on weekends boggles the mind).

Today we did a beautiful circuit that visited the Bearfort Fire Tower. We visited this tower way back in 2007. There are four parallel trails that run approximately north to south along Bearfort Mountain in this area (between Stephens Road and Van Orden Road). At that time we parked in parking area P1, headed north along Hank's West trail, then returned on the Hank's East trail. Today we parked in P2 (a small pull-off on Clinton Road) and took the other two trails: the Fire Tower West trail north and then the Fire Tower Ridge trail back. One of the highlights today was the amazingly well-preserved circular stone water tower which provided water to the Cross Castle which used to stand just south. After getting home, and checking the NYNJTC website, I realized that the hike posted on 7/17/2008 describes the exact same hike, only in the opposite (counter clock-wise) direction.

Total distance hiked today was 5 miles, in just under 3.5 hours. As indicated, a permit is required for hiking in this area, which can be purchased at the office on Echo Lake Road. The permits are good for the calendar year.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

Trailhead at P2

No Trespassing without permit

[Photo by Laura]

Moss ...

... which I love!

Seasonal view SW


[Photo by Laura]

Heading north on yellow

Steady ascent

Laura & Mountain Laurel

Ridge west of Clinton Reservoir

Time to de-layer

Seasonal views ...

... to the west

Beautiful rock formation

Huge boulder ...

... jumble off trail

[Photo by Laura]


Icy stream


Busy intersection

[Photo by Laura]

Swamp area before ...

... final ascent

Beginning the climb

Steady ascent



Covered with fungus!

Open view west

Partial view of Cedar Pond

Cedar Pond

On the ridge


First view of tower

Jersey Highlands blaze

Tower sign


Wind speed meter

View up [photo by Laura]

View south

Partial views east

Fire Tower Ridge trail



Winding ridge


Swamp west of ridge


Rotted from inside


Glacial erratic

View east

Views east ...

... from cairn-lined ...

... spur trail ...

... to viewpoint

Ridges SE

Partial views ...

... of Hank's Pond

First views ...

... of water tower

Built in 1905 ...

... the stonework ...

... is amazingly ...

... well-preserved

Site of Cross Castle (now gone)

Huge mushroom

Road to castle site

Mountain Laurel

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