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Norvin Green State Forest

IMG_0045This route takes in Chikahoki Falls, Otter Hole, and an awesome viewpoint at Wyanokie High Point with 360° views of the area, including NYC on a clear day.

Located in the New Jersey Highlands region just west of the Wanaque Reservoir, Norvin Green offers a variety of rugged hikes. There are short hikes with outstanding views, and long, challenging loops for the experienced hiker.

Updated 6/4/14 – Revised description, new photos and GPX.

Mileage: 7.7 miles roundtrip, moderate with a few decent elevation changes. There is an extensive trail system so it’s easy to create other shorter or longer loops.

  • Short: 2.6 miles. Out-and-back to the amazing view at High Point. Noted in the description below.

Map: A basic map at the link on the right or Map #115 of  North Jersey Trails. Note: blaze colors are used multiple times for trails in this park. For example, a WHITE blaze marks both the “Lower” and “Post Brook” trails on this route.

Books: Highly recommended is Hiking the Jersey Highlands by George Petty. It contains 6 shorter hikes in Norvin Green, with trail descriptions and maps. Different routes that include High Point are in 50 Hikes in New JerseyHiking New Jersey, Hike of the Week, and Take a Hike New York City.  A longer, very challenging route is detailed in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: New York City.

Parking: N41 04.192 W74 19.303
Rt 287 to exit 55, take 511 N (Wanaque), continue through Wanaque for several miles. Make a left onto West Brook Rd.  Continue across Reservoir. At the T-intersection, make a left. The 2nd left is Snake Den Road. There is a sign for the Weis Ecology and the Highlands Natural Pool on the left side of the road. Continue uphill and bear left on Snake Den, continue past some houses until arriving at a large dirt lot on the right.

Restrooms: There are rustic outhouses on GREEN, near the Highlands Natural Pool in the beginning of the hike. Better bet is a gas station or Quick Chek on Rt. 511. In 2013, Weis Ecology Center, part of the NJ Audubon Society, was closed along with access to their bathrooms.

Hike Directions: Overview: GREEN (Otter Hole) – BLUE (Hewitt Butler) – RED on WHITE CIRCLE (WCI) – WHITE (Lower) – WHITE (PBT – Post Brook Trail) – BLUE (Hewitt Butler) – GREEN (Otter Hole).

0.0 – Start following GREEN (Otter Hole), which is the paved road/trail that runs from the end of the parking lot, by the gate and some signs, between a stream and a field.

After the field, GREEN (Otter Hole) goes to the right of the Highlands Natural Pool, and then veers left where there are several different trail markers on a tree in addition to GREEN (Otter Hole).

Head uphill past a few water cascades, through a rocky section and bridge, then cross a woods road to a trail kiosk.

0.4 – At the trail kiosk (“Richard N Warner Kiosk”,) start following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE). GPS: KioskBL/YEL/GRN [GREEN (Otter Hole) goes right, YELLOW DOT on WHITE CIRCLE (Mine) starts and is co-aligned with BLUE]

0.6 – Continue following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE). [YELLOW (Mine) trail leaves to the left]. Head steeply uphill to several viewpoints.

1.0 – Continue following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE). [WHITE (Macopin) goes off to the right] GPS: BLUE/WHITE JCT

Head uphill past a large glacial erratic with a BLUE blaze on it.

1.3 – Turn LEFT towards a large rock painted with “HI POINT”, an arrow, RED on WHITE CIRCLE (WCI) and a TEAL (Highlands) blaze. GPS: RED/BLUE/TEAL

Start following RED on WHITE CIRCLE (WCI)/TEAL (Highlands) by scrambling up the rocks where “HI POINT” is indicating. [BLUE leaves to the right, TEAL also goes to the right]. Continue up a steep outcropping of bare rock.

1.4 – Arrive at High Point for a 360 degree view of the area. On a clear day the New York City skyline is visible. This is a terrific spot for a break. GPS: WyanokieHighPoint [Short option: retrace the route from this point, back to the car for a 2.6 mile hike.]

Continue following the RED on WHITE CIRCLE and TEAL markers on the rocks. Go through an open area as the trail starts to steadily descend, before reentering the shade of the forest and leveling off.

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Variation: In a park full of awesome trails, it’s hard to choose a “best” route, so if you’re up for it… here’s an alternative to the more gradual, easier-going Lower trail:

At High Point, turn around and scramble back down to the junction with “Hi Point” on the rock. Follow Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/TEAL (Highlands) instead to another view and then on to YELLOW (Carris) for more views. This is harder and has more elevation change. End up at the point at 3.4 miles below, at GPS: Lower/Carris). For an extension of this variation… check out “Wyanokie High Point, Carris Hill, Buck Mountain”.
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2.1 – Turn RIGHT, now following WHITE (Lower). (detour a few steps straight past the turn for a pretty stream). [RED on WHITE CIRCLE (WCI) and TEAL (Highlands) continue straight over a stream]. GPS: LowerWHT/RED-WCI

3.4 – Wooden arrow signs: Weis 2.4 miles, Carris, PBT. Continue following WHITE (Lower) as it passes the end of YELLOW (Carris) on the right, goes over a rock, and veers to the left. GPS: Lower/Carris

Soon, arrive at a junction at a bend in a brook with wooden arrows for E and W PBT, Lower, Chik Falls, O-H Prkg, Carris.

Turn RIGHT, now following WHITE (PBT) to the west. [WHITE (PBT) also goes to the left, east. WHITE (Lower) ends]. GPS:PBT/Lower

3.8 – Chikahoki Falls. To view the falls them from the front instead of the side, rock hop or cross fallen trees if the water level allows it.

Continue following WHITE (PBT) up sharply to the right as it passes by the top of the falls.

4.0 – Start following BLUE (Hewitt-Butler) and TEAL (Highlands). [WHITE (PBT) ends. BLUE/TEAL are also to the right] GPS: WHITE/BLUE/TEAL

4.3 – Continue on BLUE (Hewitt-Butler)/TEAL (Highlands Trail) passing YELLOW (Wyanokie Crest) on the right and then left. GPS: BLUE-TEAL/YEL(WC)1 and 2

4.6 – Continue on BLUE (Hewitt-Butler)/TEAL (Highlands Trail) [Unmarked trail on left]. GPS: BLUE/UNMRKED

4.9 ­– Junction of BLUE (Hewitt-Butler)/TEAL (Highlands) and the start of GREEN (Otter Hole) on the right. GPS: BLUE/TEAL/GREEN

Veer LEFT on BLUE to check out Otter Hole – a nice water cascade that makes for a good break spot. [Beyond the water crossing is a parking area for another great hike: Torne Mountain/Osio Rock.]

Retrace your steps to the junction with GREEN. Now follow GREEN (Otter Hole)/TEAL (Highlands).

5.3 – Sign: Weis/Pkg is 1.6 miles. Continue straight, now following just GREEN (Otter Hole). [YELLOW (Wyanokie Crest) crosses the trail, TEAL (Highlands) leaves to the left]. GPS: GRN/YEL(WC)

5.5 – An overlook to the west. Continue on GREEN (Otter Hole), mostly level with minor elevation change. GPS: Overlook on GREEN

6.2 – Continue on GREEN (Otter Hole). [RED (WCI – Wyanokie Circular) crosses left and right (to High Point)]. Sign: Weis/Pkg is 1.3 miles. GPS: RED(WCI)/GREEN

6.5 – Continue on GREEN (Otter Hole). [WHITE (Macopin) starts on the right and leads to High Point.] GPS: GREEN(OH)/WHT-Macopin

Continue on GREEN (Otter Hole) as it joins and leaves a rocky woods road.

7.3 – At the trail kiosk from the beginning of the hike, turn LEFT to retracing your steps on GREEN (Otter Hole) back to the lot. GPS: KioskBL/YEL/GRN

Hiked: 6/1/14. Trail Blog: “Norvin Green – Panoramic Views and Waterfalls
Hiked: 4/25/09. Trail Blog: “Norvin Green State Forest – High Point, Chik Falls and Otter Hole loop

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