Kay’s Cottage Ruins

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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).

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.

Ruins of Kay's Cottage and water cascading over a dam


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.


50 Hikes in New JerseyHike of the Week, and 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: New York City have longer variations.

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.

Hike Directions:

Overview: BLUE (Black River Trail) – GREEN – ORANGE – GREEN/ORANGE – GREEN – BLUE (Black River Trail)

From the parking lot, walk towards the Mill.

Path and fence next to stone mill building

0.0 – Walk down the steps next to the mill.

Check out the water wheel at the base of the mill.

Cooper Mill stone building

Cross a small footbridge and follow BLUE.

River with bright yellow and orange foliage

View of the mill along BLUE.

Cooper Mill with a stream in front and surrounded by fall color.

The trail follows the Black River and passes a fenced-in area of the old Hacklebarney mine.

Hiker on path surrounded by yellow leaves
Black River flowing over rocks

BLUE is generally level but rooty as it follows the water.

Trail with bright yellow foliage

Continue on BLUE as it passes Kay’s Pond.

Kay's Pond

0.7 – The spillway at the end of Kay’s Pond:

Water flowing over a spillway

// Shorter option, 1.4 miles: Retrace the route back from here. //

Continue following BLUE along the Black River.

River with fall foliage around it

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].

Orange marker on a tree along a wide leaf covered path

Cross the Black River on a wooden bridge with views of the river on either side. Continue following ORANGE as it heads uphill.

Wooden bridge covered in leaves
Black River surrounded by fall foliage

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.

Kay's Cottage from on the steps above
Doorway of a stone cottage

A wall of the stone is covered in thick moss.

Stone wall covered in thick green moss

Inside the remains of Kay’s Cottage:

Stone archway

Walking around inside the cottage and looking out through the window:

Looking through a window in a stone wall.

The pretty Black River runs along side the cottage. It was damned to make a pool just in front of the cottage.

Black River surrounded by fall foliage
Stone wall and dam with water flowing over it

Viewing the dam near Kay’s Cottage:

Dam at Kay's Cottage
Kay's Cottage dam on the Black River

When ready climb back up the stone steps and retrace the route to the bridge.

Old stone steps covered with wet leaves

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.

Green and orange marker on a tree

The gorge is very pretty with rushing water and cascades over rocks.

Rock covered with leaves and a river surrounded by fall foliage

2.2 – Now follow GREEN. [GREEN-ORANGE ends.] The trail heads down to the right to the area opposite of Kay’s Cottage.

Front of cottage with water spilling over a dam near stone steps

A pond was created in front of the cottage by damming the Black River.

Pond in front of stone cottage
Front of an old stone cottage

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.