This weekend we hiked the Buttermilk Fall trail loop which starts at the Buttermilk Fall, the highest fall in New Jersey and continued steeply uphill to connect to the Appalachian Trail, and then to the Hemlock Pond trail. This trail is a modified (shortened) version of what I found on the NJhiking website which you can find here: http://www.njhiking.com/best-hikes-in-nj-buttermilk-falls/
This trail is not the easiest nor too strenuous, and it consists of various road surface conditions including paved gravel road, rocky terrain and unpaved dirt road. So we thought it would be a nice route to test out/ break in our newly acquired hiking boots Arcteryx Bora2 Mid GTX.
As we followed the Google map GPS on my phone to the parking location suggested on the njhiking website (N41 08.221 W74 53.350), we were coming from the south-west direction on the National Park Service Rd 615 and turned onto the Haney’s Mill Rd and then onto the Mountain Rd which presumably would lead us to the parking lot. However, the Mountain Rd section starting from its cross to the Haney’s Mill Rd had very bad road conditions for an average sedan that I had to pay extra attention on avoiding deep holes on the road and I still ended up with two scratches on the bottom of my car. And the Rd was closed about a mile away from the parking lot. So we had to start our hiking before we actually got to the trail head.
This turned out to be a bit rewarding for me as we found the scenic on the mountain side along the Mountain Rd to be very interesting. Fallen pine trees created nice leading lines for pictures and I like the feeling of solitude when photographing a lone traveler in the wilderness.
And I also loved it when the solitude feeling was replaced by people’s interactions.
We then continued to the trail head where the beautiful fall was within our reach.
I went off the trail to the fall top, and found a spot big enough for my tripod and close enough to the flow of water to get this shot.
I wasn’t quite satisfied with the result but I decided to hurry up to our hiking since it was already 2:30pm and we barely started real walking yet.
After we climbed up the stairs to the top of the fall, we finally got into the woods. This is Tammy crossing the cute wooden bridge.
This following section was probably the most difficult part of the hike, which was steep and without stairs/rails to rely on. Our new boots felt reliable on these conditions providing tight gripping to the ground and at the same time allowing my heel to move quite freely due to the liner design.
We continued our hike following the blue marks till we hit the Appalachian Trail (white marks) from where we enjoyed some downhill well paved road conditions. Breathing fresh air while listening to the sound of nature all by ourselves was quite a get away from our city life.
When we first started our hiking we thought to include the crater lake loop into our hiking as suggested on the njhiking website. However after spending too much time on the way taking photos, we decided to skip that part and connect to the Hemlock Trail from the AT so we don’t have to risk walking in the dark. The Hemlock Trail was hard to miss since there was a sign right at the crossing. We just went from there and followed the orange marks which soon led us to the pond. And we enjoyed taking a self portrait.
The trail looped around the pond following which you can easily find some compositions to your taste.
This trail didn’t stop surprising me and led us to this very photogenic area of dead plants. It reminded me of the pine barrens. Walking through these dead trees, you might not remember what country, what age this is.
You will only find how close you are to civilization when you look at your cellphone covered by 4G signal and share your moments with friends!
After we finished the Hemlock Pond trail which connected to the blue marked Buttermilk Fall trail, we came down the same route as we climbed up earlier today.
Here is the recorded track of our hiking on Google Earth:
I am attaching the GPS file ( in GPX format) here so you can load it onto your devices. Notice that we did make some small mistakes ( sometimes we went past a cross way and had to go back). Just for the record, we spent a total of 5h 20min from start to finish. If you are just out for the hike, you can be much faster than us.
As I write this blog I am looking forward to our next hike in the near future.