Clinton Reservoir West

Clinton Reservoir West, Pequannock Watershed (7/14/2012)

The last time we hiked the beautiful western bank of Clinton Reservoir was five years ago. Back then the trail from parking area P9 was blazed white and there was a stretch of land between the reservoir and Buckabear Pond which allowed access to the mountain jutting out into the reservoir to the north. Today the trail is blazed yellow and the path to the mountain seemed totally submerged. The yellow trail along the western bank of the pond has also been moved further west because of permanent flooding (I remember this stretch being very wet in 2007).

Once again we parked at P9. When we got there at 8:30 AM there was a guard from the Pequannock Watershed sitting in his truck. He checked to make sure we had the parking sticker. We headed on the yellow Bearfort Waters trail along the western bank of the reservoir. At about the half-way point of Buckabear Pond we made a left onto a woods road and then took a series of woods roads all the way back south to the Highlands trail. We used woods roads east of the one labeled "Lud Day Road" on the NYNJTC Map #116. It's a good thing too, because we heard the noise of motorbikes coming from that road. We had a pleasant surprise on this stretch, encountering the ruins of a cabin, not indicated on the map. When we got to the Highlands trail we headed east to the yellow Bearfort Waters trail once again.

At this point we were back at the western bank of the reservoir, on the lollipop stick back to the car. I scanned the banks for a suitable place to eat lunch (I remembered a bunch of good places earlier in the morning when we were heading north). So I wasn't exactly watching where I was walking. At one point Laura, who was about 40 feet behind me, shouted "OH MY GOD! Did you just pass that??" I turned around quickly to see a very large timber rattlesnake in the exact middle of the trail! Clearly I had either walked just past it or actually over it, perhaps even straddling it! And I was using hiking poles, which could have easily poked it! Amazingly nothing happened! He let me pass without incident. So he lied there in the middle of the trail, half-way between Laura and me. After Laura bushwacked off the path to avoid him, he started rattling! What a moment! After years of hiking in the NJ-NY area, I had never seen a rattlesnake in the wild. And the first one was one I almost stepped on, and one that started rattling for us, which was quite an experience.

A bit shaken at the near miss, I did eventually find a good lunch spot on the reservoir. But I hardly remember eating. All I remember was thinking about how I could have very well been waiting for a rescue helicopter! And yes, I did watch the path in front of me back to the car!

Total distance hiked today was about 6 miles in 3.5 hours. 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)

Guard at P9

Trail head

Heading east

Tiny eft

Inviting path

An even tinier eft!

Heading to ...

... Clinton Reservoir



View SE

View NE

More fishermen

Boat in reservoir

Trail parallels western bank

Two fishing boats

Making mental notes ...

... for lunch spots

More fishermen


Millipede and caterpillar

Heading north along bank

View east

Gorgeous leaf

Just a skeleton left

Ferns on rock

View south

Fishermen in northern tip

Memorial plaque

Beautiful path

Buckabear Pond ...

... is more of a big swamp

Loads of lily pads!

Beaver lodge in middle

Ferns on re-routed Yellow


Paradise Pond off woods road

Active hornet's nest!

Demolished car

Beautiful surface

Mushroom in path

Blue dragonfly

Boundary walls abound

Awesome ruins ...

... of cabin

View from inside

Fireplace and chimney

[Photo by Laura]

Old drums

Highlands trail blaze

Crossing through boundaries

Timber rattlesnake on trail!

What a beauty!

His rattle

His head

He slithers away, following the trail!

Back to Clinton Reservoir

Our lunch spot

Dan happily not bitten! [photo by Laura]

Dragonfly eating a damselfly! Ouch!

Beautiful lunch spot

[Photo by Laura]

Heading south

Photographs and content copyright © Dan Balogh
Web design by Dan Balogh