<<<Hikes in NJ - Trails Less Taken
Musconetcong Gorge Preserve
Park Summary: Small park in Hunterdon County with a pretty waterfall/stream area and a section of the Highlands Trail.
Mileage: 3.1 miles (about, our GPS lost sats a lot at the end). Rocky Highlands trail along a ridge (no views), down a steep trail to connect to a gravel railroad trail, to a stream and waterfall. Trail had a decent amount of poison ivy along its edges.
Even shorter route:
Highlands/Ridge Trail to the stream, turn left to waterfall/gorge area, and return the same way or take the nature trail back. Not sure the exact distance but it would be under 2 miles most likely.
Map: Can be found on the Hunterdon Park System site. The trails are marked with various dotted lines on the trail map – this makes the map hard to read. The trails are blazed with colors, but the colors are not noted on the map, just the name of the trail. The trail kiosk had maps the day we were there, or you can print from their site just to make sure you have one.
Parking: Rt 287 to exit 7 off 78 W – detailed directions here. Parking is along the gravel road, by the park sign.
Hike Directions:There are two trails from the lot; this route follows the one on the right, the Ridge/Highland Trail. It’s marked YELLOW, WHITE and TEAL DIAMOND (Highlands).
Trail heads up a mildly steep incline, somewhat rocky. Lot of road noise here.
At about .7 miles, cross a stream on rocks. It’s helpful to have trekking poles or a stick here, as the water was deep enough to soak your boot if you slipped off a rock.
After crossing the stream, head up the steep section in front of you – marked WHITE, YELLOW and TEAL DIAMOND. There also is a BLUE trail that heads to the left, to the waterfall area if you want to take a real short loop.
At about 1.1 mile, watch on the left for WHITE blazes (Switchback Trail) indicating a left turn. Now you are just following WHITE.
Trail descends steeply on a serious of blazed switchbacks. There is also a unmarked trail that goes directly down the middle so that confuses things, possibly an older trail before the switchbacks… and the switchbacks themselves are either new and not complete. or are overgrown to the point we were basically bushwhacking… after getting annoyed with the switchbacks about halfway down we just took the trail straight.
At about 1.4 you arrive at the Railroad Trail at the bottom of the hill. It’s a flat easy gravel path. But just before you get out of the woods and onto the gravel, there is a RED marker to your left. We were not sure if we were supposed to take that or the railroad trail back – the map wasn’t making it clear. So we opted for the Railroad Trail.
Follow the gravel trail as it parallels the river below, finally coming upon a paper factory. It’s not really that scenic.
At about 2.0 miles, the trail bears left and the gravel railbed ends. It’s confusing here, there are 3 choices.
Far right (ORANGE) goes to a bridge over the stream; middle (RED) goes to the waterfall itself, left (BLUE) is a woods road.
We took ORANGE went over to the bridge area to take a look. The trail also continues on the other side of the water to a Nature Trail and back to the lot.
Go back and take the RED middle trail to the waterfall.. which is a little off trail to actually get to it. It’s a nice little waterfall. Backtrack slightly and take the RED markers up to the BLUE trail and make a right onto it.
To get back to the lot, we then look the BLUE (Gas Line trail) woods road to where we crossed the stream earlier, cross the stream and follow the WHITE/YELLOW/TEAL back to the car.