Burnett Brook Natural Area

Burnett Brook Natural Area, Mendham, NJ (9/24/2011)

It was totally overcast this morning, without the slightest hint of sun. In addition, the trails and trees were soaked after the rains, heavy at times, from the past few days. What's the result of all of this? Answer: the absolute best conditions for outdoor photography you can imagine! Oh my, how the forest comes alive in such conditions: diffuse lighting bouncing from wet reflective surfaces. I posted nearly 80 photos for a hike that took a bit over 90 minutes. I don't know if the Burnett Brook Natural Area is normally this beautifiul, but this morning it was an absolute jewel!

Using this map, we did the barbell-shaped hike covering nearly every inch in the park (except for less than 0.1 mile along the northern bank of Sterling's Pond). We parked on Mt. Paul Road and headed to Sterling's Pond on the eastern leg. This was the most scenic part of the hike, since it parallels Burnett Brook which flows (at times) along both sides of the path! We then continued south on Mt. Paul Road where not a single car passed, since the narrow road serves merely as access to a small handful of residences further in. We took the southern loop in a counter clockwise direction, visiting the fascinating Shale Pit (marked on the map) before returning to Mt. Paul Road. We then continued north completing the northern loop back to the car.

One of the highlights of the area is the fact that many many trees have idenfication signs on them. There's no better way to learn which tree is which than by seeing it right there in front of you. Total distance hiked today was just over 2.2 miles in about 1.75 hours.

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

Mt. Paul Road trail head

Yellow Poplar

Small swamp

Large worm

Bridge remains?


Burnett Brook ...

... parallels the trail

Very early ...

... fall foliage

Two flows converge

Burnett Brook

Sturdy bridge

Beautiful trail

Beautiful brook

Boardwalks along wetter parts

Stirling's Pond ...

... was created ...

... for ice skating

Rain drops


On southern bank

Lovely red cedars

Another sturdy bridge

Story of the pond

Trail intersection


Another red cedar

Mt. Paul Road fork

A PP spur begins here

The very narrow Mt. Paul Road

A beautiful Marbled Orb ...

... Weaver Spider

Prickly cherry?

We saw and heard none

Very early color

White Ash

In a natural bowl

Lots of saplings

Gorgeous mushrooms


American Beech

Huge mansion at end of Pine Hollow Lane

Loads of shale in shale pit!

Shale close-up

Shotgun shell

Nut shells on Mt. Paul Road

Trail blazes

Gorgeous wildflowers ...

... along the trail

Fall foliage!

Narrow, wet trail

Lovely cedars


Early color

Beautiful trees

More color

More sturdy bridges

Phragmites ...

... hanging onto the trail


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