Richard Wilcox & Tourne Parks

Richard Wilcox & Tourne Parks, Mountain Lakes, NJ (2/25/2012)

It was WINDY this morning, with sustained winds in the 20-30 MPH range with gusts of 50 MPH and higher! So we decided to keep it short and hiked an area very close to where we live. We climbed Tourne Mountain back in 2009 and at that time we encountered lots of people taking the Decamp trail up to the vista. That trail might be the most popular in the entire park, so we skipped that path today and instead focused on the southern area of the park as well as the area under the jurisdiction of Mountain Lakes Borough, called Richard Wilcox Park.

We followed the lollipop, highlighted in yellow here, in the clockwise direction. The best part of the hike was one I doubted would be passable, but it was! It's the stretch between the Ogden Trail and the star labeled "Spring House" on the map. The park map clearly shows a foot trail passing through Rattlesnake Meadow, but the recent NYNJTC Jersey Highlands Trails Map 125 shows no such path. Instead it shows a vista (a denoted star) just off Ogden looking east, with no path crossing that swampy area. I also saw discussion online indicating that the trail was no longer there. But it was there today! Passing through the swamp, littered by drowned and downed trees, was magnificent. At times we seemed to be walking on frozen beaver dams, and there were signs of beaver activity around us. This is the most beautiful part of the entire park in my opinion, although the path isn't blazed.

Another highlight was Boiling Spring where there was some activity today, even though it was in the low 20s F! The water was cold, so it wasn't really boiling, but rather bubbling. You can see a zoom photo I took of three tiny mounds of sand beneath the water. They were bubbling consistently while we were there. We stuck our fingers and then trekking poles into the sand and there didn't seem to be any bottom (it was a bit like quicksand). Clearly air is coming from somewhere, giving the illusion of boiling water. Very cool.

Total distance hiked today was 2.5 miles, in just under 2 hours.

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

Parking lot east of Old Boonton Road

Park road gated just east

Trail head for Red

Heading south

Wooden bench

[Photo by Laura]

Small whaleback

[Photo by Laura]


Brand new

Heading east on Blue

Boundary wall

Sign at Park Boundary

Sign for Boiling Springs

View NE on Ogden

Rattlesnake ...

... Meadow is ...

... a wonderful swamp

Boardwalk at trail head

[Photo by Laura]

Walking on dam in parts


Beaver activity

On the beaver dam ...

... along the way

Bat house

[Photo by Laura]

End of trail

Trail yoga [Photo by Laura]

Spring House foundation

Looking NE

Looking SW

Watch those nails!

First glimpse of Birchwood Lake

Lady of the Lake

Road along eastern bank

Crystal Lake

[Photo by Laura]

Birchwood Lake

Picnic table at Sunset Lake

Birchwood Lake

Canada geese

Pool area

Mountain Lakes kiosk

Sunset Lake


Pool area

9/11 Memorial

Benches for two victims


Lifeguard seat

Winter color

Jake and Gert

View NE

Hornet's Nest

Choppy waters

Sign at NW tip

Utility shed on Ogden

On unmarked trail

Small pond and bench

Heading NE to ...

... Boiling Springs

Three mounds of dirt bubbling

The water ...

... was cold

Continuing NE

Fresh blow-downs

Back on the Red ...

... lollipop stick

Curvy tree

Colorful lichen

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