This gorgeous park in Chester, NJ has the Black River as it’s centerpiece and is terrific for outdoor photographers.
Mileage: 3.8 miles round-trip. The trail surface is mostly easy but the trail along the river can be rough in sections, with large roots and rocks to negotiate.
The hike detailed below tries to make the longest available in the park with the least back-tracking… it’s very easy to make shorter hikes here, and we’ve noted some options in the route below.
Our two cents: There are only about 6 miles of overlapping trails here and a lot of that is paved/gravel – this is not the park for an experienced hiker looking for a long/challenging trail. It’s also extremely popular so do not expect solitude at all.
Updates 12/08/12 – Trail description updated, new photos, video, and revised GPX.
The trails here are good for:
- Beginner hikes, or just taking a quick, short, easy hike
- Hiking with kids – there is lots to look at and the park has lots of bridges etc, plus you are never far from the car if they’ve had enough
- Picnicking – there are TONS of picnic tables scattered throughout the park
- Anyone who wants to experience a wonderful outdoor setting without a lot of hiking or effort
Hacklebarney Trail Map – 2015 update: The park page now has a map. The trails are colored different than the map we scanned several years ago. Both are linked in the resource box above. There is a small ranger station (closed temporarily) and a trail kiosk at the end of the parking lot that may have paper maps. We also used the map from the book, Hiking the Jersey Highlands.
Books: Hiking the Jersey Highlands contains a hike description/trail map for Hacklebarney.
Parking: N40 45.061 W74 43.934
Rt 206 to 513 W. Just past Cooper Mill make a left onto State Park Road. (There are signs) Continue for about 2 miles and make a right onto Hacklebarney Road. Park entrance on your left. There is a small parking lot with a monument just as you enter, turn left within that lot and follow the park road to a larger lot.
Restrooms: Comfort stations are place strategically around the park. On the main path just beyond the ranger station and kiosk, they are on your right. There are several others.
Hike Directions: Overview: Upper Trail (RED) – Lower Trail (RED) – Rhinehart (RED) – Windy Ridge (YELLOW) – Main Trail (WHITE) – Haki Trail (BLUE) – Wintershine (BLUE), turning LEFT after crossing the ridge – Upper Trail (RED) – BLUE trail – Main Trail (WHITE)
Note: The park map is somewhat confusing in naming/coloring trails, we described the route as best as we could.
0.0 – The Main Trail (WHITE) starts by the map kiosk, and is paved.
Pass restrooms on the right. Turn LEFT and go down stairs and cross over Trout Brook, now following RED.
0.3 – Pass a bridge, then shortly after come to another bridge with #2 on it, as well as the start of the BLUE trail.
A waterfall is past the bridge, and you can either scramble down the rocks to get a look or continue a bit on RED and take some steps down to the right.
Return back up on the RED trail when done checking out the waterfall. [This route comes back this way, so you can save the waterfall for the return if you like]
0.7 – The RED trail curves around. [Pass the start of Wintershine (BLUE) on the right]
0.9 – The RED trail curves down to the edge of the Black River, and now follows along side it. On the map, the trail is now called the Lower Trail as it hugs the river. The trail can be rocky and full of roots in spots.
1.4 – RED crosses a bridge. Continue straight on RED as it hugs the water. [Shorter: On the other side of the bridge, BLUE goes to the RIGHT and can be used to cut the hike short]
1.8 – Continue on RED as it veers LEFT. [Three Pools (BLUE) goes straight. Shorter: This leads directly back to the Main Trail (WHITE)]
2.1 – RED comes to a T. Choose your own adventure:
— You can turn left here and take a short side trip to stone markers for Susan Parker Borie and Hacklebarney, and a bench which has a view over the river. Beyond that is posted Private Property and you can’t continue on the trail. Backtrack to the junction and continue straight on RED.
— If you don’t take the left here for the spur trail out to the bench/markers, make a RIGHT and continue on RED.
2.4 – Cross a bridge and come to a T with a stone pillar and sign with “To Parking Area” and YELLOW and WHITE markers. Turn LEFT, now following Windy Ridge (YELLOW) as it heads uphill. [Main Trail (WHITE) goes to the right. Shorter: Take this for a paved, easier, shorter route back]
2.9 – Make a sharp RIGHT onto the paved Main Trail (WHITE) [Main Trail (WHITE) also continues to the left. Shorter: go left here to head more directly back to the parking lot]
3.0 – Make a sharp LEFT onto Haki Trail (BLUE) and head downhill.
3.3 – Turn LEFT, towards a picnic table, continuing on BLUE. This turn is easy to miss, and if you arrive at a bridge (where you were earlier in the day), you missed the turn and need to backtrack a little.
Shortly, walk over a bridge and turn LEFT, to a small water cascade. Continue walking along the edge of the water.
3.5 – On the RIGHT, find stone steps that lead back up to the RED trail. You are near the waterfall from earlier in the day. Turn LEFT at the top of the stairs. In just a bit, turn LEFT onto the BLUE trail and cross the bridge.
After the bridge, BLUE heads up to the RIGHT.