Hike along the Black River from Cooper Mill to the ruins of Kay’s Cottage.
4.0 or 3.6 miles. Roots, minor rocks, surface is a bit more rugged to view Kay’s from the other side of the river (can skip).
- 1.4 miles – Just to the spillway and back (noted below).
- 3.6 miles – Skip viewing the ruins from across the river and some rugged trail (noted below).
- Longer version: 7.2 miles – Extended version of this hike: “Black River County Park – Cooper Mill“.
- Nearby: Hacklebarney; Schooley’s Mountain.
Our two cents:
This shorter version of our Best Hike packs the best bits – the scenic Black River, Kay’s Pond and dam, and Kay’s Cottage ruins and dam – into a more manageable hike.
Print ahead. The kiosk might have trail maps too.
Note: The trail names (i.e. Black River) no longer seem to be referenced on trail maps but they are still on trail signs. The Patriot’s Path tree+path marker is on some trails.
Parking: N40 46.698 W74 43.217
66 Route 24, Chester Township, NJ 07930. Large dirt lot adjacent to the Cooper Grist Mill.
Portable toilets in the parking lot.
Overview: BLUE (Black River Trail) – GREEN – ORANGE – GREEN/ORANGE – GREEN – BLUE (Black River Trail)
From the parking lot, walk towards the Mill.
0.0 – Walk down the steps next to the mill.
Check out the water wheel at the base of the mill.
Cross a small footbridge and follow BLUE.
View of the mill along BLUE.
The trail follows the Black River and passes a fenced-in area of the old Hacklebarney mine.
BLUE is generally level but rooty as it follows the water.
Continue on BLUE as it passes Kay’s Pond.
0.7 – The spillway at the end of Kay’s Pond:
// Shorter option, 1.4 miles: Retrace the route back from here. //
Continue following BLUE along the Black River.
1.2 – Turn RIGHT to now follow GREEN at a marker post.
1.4 – Turn RIGHT to now follow ORANGE on a wide path. Markers might not be noticeable right away. [GREEN continues ahead].
Cross the Black River on a wooden bridge with views of the river on either side. Continue following ORANGE as it heads uphill.
The river will come into view, keep an eye out on the left for stone steps leading down to Kay’s Cottage.
1.8 – Take the steps downhill to the ruins of Kay’s Cottage next to a dam.
A wall of the stone is covered in thick moss.
Inside the remains of Kay’s Cottage:
Walking around inside the cottage and looking out through the window:
The pretty Black River runs along side the cottage. It was damned to make a pool just in front of the cottage.
Viewing the dam near Kay’s Cottage:
When ready climb back up the stone steps and retrace the route to the bridge.
2.1 – Just after crossing the bridge, turn RIGHT to now follow GREEN/ORANGE.
// Shorter option, 3.6 miles: To skip seeing the ruins from the other side of the river and a short section of rugged trail, retrace the route back from here: ORANGE to GREEN to BLUE which leads to the parking lot. //
GREEN hugs the river on a sometimes narrow trail with rocks and roots. While not exactly challenging, it isn’t an easy or beginner trail in spots.
The gorge is very pretty with rushing water and cascades over rocks.
2.2 – Now follow GREEN. [GREEN-ORANGE ends.] The trail heads down to the right to the area opposite of Kay’s Cottage.
A pond was created in front of the cottage by damming the Black River.
When done checking out the ruins, turn around and return on GREEN to GREEN/ORANGE (or stay on GREEN, both lead back) to BLUE.
Retrace the route on BLUE along the Black River back to the parking lot.
Hiked 10/24/20. Longer 7.2 mile version.