Northern Loop, South Mountain Reservation

Northern Loop, South Mountain Reservation (6/16/2013)

It's been nearly five years since we hiked this urban reservation, not more than 20 minutes from our house. Back in 2008 we did a loop in the southern part of the park, which basically covered the southern part of the figure-8 described in Hike #29 ("South Mountain Reservation") in the 3rd edition of 50 Hikes in New Jersey. Today we returned to hike a loop in the northern part following the NYNJTC Hike of the Week for 4/18/2013.

The highlight of the hike is the famous Turtle Back Rock, a rock formation at the northern-most tip of the hike at its closest point to Northfield Avenue. In fact, driving along this part of that avenue, you can see the rock formation from the road. But from that vantage point it's impossible to see the amazing naturally carved patten on the surface of the rocks at the top. These patterns give the rock its name.

Today the woods were filled with the constant din of Brood II cicadas. There were more in this park than we have seen anywhere in New Jersey since they surfaced. In places the trail was so filled with escape holes that it felt a miracle that the path didn't collapse at any moment.

Though the distance in the described hike is 3.5 miles, our total distance today was 5 miles. We did add a small spur on a bridle trail in an attempt to get a view of the Orange Reservoir (we barely got a view with all the leaves on the trees), but it appears that this hike is longer than 3.5 miles long.

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

Parking lot cluttered with MudFest gear

Crossing Rahway River west of lot

View of picnic area

Trail head for today's hike

Begins through ...

... a gorgeous ...

... pine grove


Mud from yesterday's MudFest?

Giant ...

... lean-to [photo by Laura]


Trail continues ...

... through grove

Very old tree!



Basalt along the trail

Brood II cicada


Sandy damage

Taking last pic [photo by Laura]

Cicada holes


Next month's raspberries

Who indeed!

Lovely old growth

Swampy area

More Sandy damage

Clearing the trail [photo by Laura]

Wood Thrush

Natural arch

Rock formations ...

... at the ...

... Turtle Back Rock site

Informational sign

Natural patterns ...

... in the rock

Small boulder field

Northfield Avenue below

Basalt cooling ...

... and fracturing ...

... left these ...

... incredible ...

... natural patterns


Reforestation project

Happy blaze

Gorgeous little ...

... fawn off trail

Blaze graffiti

Loads of cicada shells

Tiny mushrooms

More climbing

[Photo by Laura]

Bridle path to ...

... limited views of ...

... Orange Reservoir


Near the end ...

... path parallels ...

... the bank of ...

... the Rahway River

Gorgeous ...

... reflections in ...

... Rahway River

Boy Scout cabin

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