West Milford Township, Passaic County
Summary: Enjoyable Highlands trails in this very pretty park in West Milford – with scenic viewpoints, the Butler Reservoir, and waterfalls.
Update 12/5/13 – There have been several major changes to the trail system that are reflected in the revised 9/2013 map posted on the NJ Conservation site. However, the trail changes are enough that the route below is no longer correct.
**This is a no-hunting park.
Moderate. Minor rocks, and some steep sections. A longish route can’t really be done in this park, but the trails are typical Jersey Highlands (relentless up-n-down, up-n-down) so they give you a workout anyway.
GREEN is quite steep with switchbacks: from the reservoir it’s downhill, while if you take GREEN from the start instead it would be uphill to the reservoir.
- 5.3 miles - Described below.
- 6.4 miles – Adding an out-and-back on the WHITE trail to the route below.
- Shorter – To go from the parking lot to the dam on the WHITE trail then backtrack should be 1.8 miles.
- The trail map lists distances of each trail in order to put other small loops together.
Trail Map: The map was updated 9/2013 and has several major changes to the trails. The Preserve is also included in the map set for Jersey Highlands Trails but that does not include the recent changes.
Books: This area isn’t covered in any of the hiking books we own.
Parking: Directions from the Apshawa Preserve site:
- Route 287N to Exit 52 – Route 23 North
- Route 23 North for 5.6 miles to Germantown Road
- Right turn onto Germantown Road and travel east for 2.5 miles
- Right turn onto Macopin Road and travel for 1.6 miles
- Right turn onto Northwood Road and immediately look to the right for “Apshawa Preserve, New Jersey Conservation Foundation” sign. Large dirt lot.
Restrooms: None (gas stations on Rt 23 best bet).
Note: We encountered some traffic noise, and in few spots on the trails you are practically in people’s backyards… but such is hiking in NJ sometimes. The beauty of the trails makes up for it.
Directions for 5.3 mile hike:
0.0 – Start out on the WHITE trail
0.2 – Turn RIGHT on WHITE. (Green heads LEFT)
0.5 – Turn RIGHT on WHITE. (Green heads LEFT)
0.9 – Views of the Butler Reservoir and Dam. Turn RIGHT on WHITE. (Red heads LEFT)
1.2 – Begin following YELLOW. WHITE turns left. (The WHITE trail cuts across on causeway and meets up at the end of the YELLOW loop, and can be used to shorten the hike or avoid the yellow trail entirely)
The YELLOW trail is a little “less traveled” as it hugs the shore line. At the very far point, it was rather wet and messy to hike through.
1.8 – YELLOW ends. Start following WHITE again, straight ahead (LEFT would take you across the causeway and to where you came from)
2.0 – Start of the RED trail. Begin following this.
(Optional: The WHITE trail continues on here to a viewpoint. We hiked this before the new Jersey Highlands Trails map was out. The online map is slightly different than that new topo: The online map shows the trail going to a viewpoint, while the topo shows the white trail ending near Wonder Lake and it’s unmarked trail leading to the viewpoint.
Total mileage becomes roughly 6.4 if you out-and-back this part of the WHITE trail.)
Cross a stream on a metal bridge.
RED leads around the reservoir, and back to the area of the dam.
**The online map doesn’t show that the RED and GREEN trail are connected near the dam area. It’s a bit unclear here… turn off of RED and head down the gravel path.
3.0 – Turn RIGHT onto GREEN (Continuing straight ahead down the gravel path is also GREEN)
Trail has some viewpoints, and then heads steeply downhill. Pass some nice waterfalls in Apshawa Brook.
Pass ruins of 2 stone building and some HUGE tanks left from an old water purification system, built in the early 1900s. [info from a comment left on our Apshawa Preserve blog post]
Pass a dam.
4.8 – Continue RIGHT on GREEN (a short YELLOW connector trail goes left)
5.1 – GREEN Ends. Retrace WHITE back to the lot.
Hiked: 11/06/10. Trail Blog: “Apshawa Preserve”