Hiking the Beaver Brook trail to Lost Lake, where there is a beaver lodge and dam.
8.2 or 5.6 miles. Varies between rocky trail and some wider woods road. Beaver Brook trail section is less traveled and may be overgrown.
- 5.6 miles: Cut the Beaver Brook to Lost Lake section. Noted below.
- Longer: Continue past Lost Lake. Noted below.
- Alternate: Start at the parking area on Berkshire Valley Road. To just the lake and back is about 6.2 miles round trip from that direction. [Affected by a potentially difficult water crossing before arriving at the lake.]
- Nearby: Kittatinny Valley; Four Birds (Splitrock); Four Birds (South); Four Birds (North); Allamuchy Mountain North.
- Nearby: Sussex Branch/Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail; Splitrock Reservoir Kayak
Our two cents:
Up for a wee bit of an adventure on the trail-less-taken? Then this wild-n-remote feeling hike may be for you.
We’ve always enjoyed hiking to Lost Lake for it’s off-the-beaten path feel – but it’s not for everyone.
Not recommended for casual or new hikers. Beaver Brook trail was very overgrown in many places so be sure to use tick protection, spot check at breaks, and reapply as needed.
There’s always the option of trying it and turning back if it’s not for you. And the 5.6 mile version without Beaver Brook Trail is more of a standard hiking experience.
Beaver Brook Trail is within Rockway River Wildlife Management Area; you may want to avoid hiking it in hunting season or be sure to wear blaze orange.
Two 8.2 mile versions: Out-and-back or a loop that includes Headley Overlook (a little limited as far as viewpoints go but still nice).
Updated 6/2021: Re-hiked; major changes to route and description due to a change to the Highlands Trail; made into a loop that includes Headley Overlook. Old update notes to page bottom.
This hike starts in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and then enters Rockaway River WMA for the Beaver Brook Trail. There isn’t one current map that shows this whole hike.
This entire hike is covered by the Jersey Highlands Trails BUT the Highlands Trail area is out of date. The Mahlon Dickerson park map is updated, but it no longer shows the Beaver Brook Trail.
You can follow along on your smartphone with our Beaver Brook Interactive Map. There may be paper Mahlon Dickerson maps in the kiosk in the parking lot, or print out from the park site ahead.
A complete description of the Beaver Brook trail is found the The New Jersey Walk Book.
Parking: N41 00.462 W74 35.144
Rt 287 to Rt 80 W. Exit 34 to Rt 15 North. Right onto Weldon Road. Large parking area on the right.
Portable toilets in the parking lot. If approaching from Rt. 15 North, there is a QuikChek about a quarter mile before the exit for Weldon Road (on the left and not well marked).
Overview: Highlands Spur (BLACK DOT on TEAL DIAMOND) – Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND) – BLUE – Beaver Brook (WHITE) to Lost Lake and then retrace – YELLOW – Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND) – Unmarked Service Road – YELLOW
Highlands Trail uses a TEAL DIAMOND as well as a “Highlands Trail” Diamond.
0.0 – Highlands Spur (BLACK DOT on TEAL DIAMOND) trailhead is at the back middle of the lot, not far from the portable toilets.
Pass the YELLOW trail on the left (might not notice it).
Almost immediately arrive at Saffin Pond. It’s easier to see if you step a bit to the right.
Head LEFT, following Highlands Spur (BLACK DOT on TEAL DIAMOND).
The trail hugs the pond and is very rocky. There may signs of beaver activity.
The short spur trail continues next to Saffin Pond and approaches the bridge on the other end.
0.3 – At the end of the pond, just beyond a bench, make a sharp LEFT onto a gravel path and start following Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND).
This route does not go over the bridge at the end of the pond.
0.5 – At a T-intersection with a bench and gate, turn LEFT to continue following Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND).
The gate to the right blocks the old route of the Highlands Trail.
Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND) is a flat and wide in this section.
0.8 – Turn RIGHT to start following BLUE. The hike returns to this intersection again towards the end. [Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND) continues ahead. YELLOW is ahead and left. There’s a sign for Saffin Pond.]
BLUE heads downhill and curves almost on to itself a few times because it’s a mountain bike trail. It continues downhill until it reaches a bridge.
2.1 – Follow BLUE as it turns LEFT. Another gate is on the right for the old Highlands Trail.
Cross Weldon Brook on a wooden footbridge. The trail starts to head uphill gradually after the bridge.
2.4 – At a junction with unmarked trails, turn RIGHT to continue following BLUE. There is a sign noting that to the left the old route of the Highlands Trail is closed.
Old markers are painted over but there was a WHITE one leftover on the back of a tree, from when Beaver Brook used to start here.
Straight is an unmarked trail that is not on the park map but it is shown on the Jersey Highlands Trails leading to the YELLOW trail.
Continue following BLUE over a large rock slab.
2.8 – Continue straight to now follow Beaver Brook (WHITE). [YELLOW crosses left and right].
// Shorter 5.6 miles, skipping Lost Lake: Instead, turn LEFT to now follow YELLOW. Scroll down in the description to the next yellow box to continue. //
There is a trail kiosk and sign stating you are leaving a Morris County Parks Property.
Beaver Brook (WHITE) becomes more rugged, traversing some rock slabs and eventually heading downhill on the way to the lake.
3.2 – Cross an unmarked trail. Sometimes Beaver Brook (WHITE) can be overgrown in areas or hard to spot.
Head through an area with mountain laurel thickets.
The small white cup-shaped flowers were blooming the day we hiked.
3.7 – Cross another unmarked trail. Lost Lake will come into view through the trees.
3.8 – An open grassy area with a little more of a view of Lost Lake and a large flat rock to sit on.
This is an obvious stopping point and hikers might assume this limited view of the lake is the end goal.
But we’ve always continued down to the edge of Lost Lake for our break, 0.2 miles from here.
It’s hard to tell where the trail continues after the clearing but the trail becomes more noticeable after the rock. Beaver Brook (WHITE) was less used beyond this point so take that into consideration.
4.0 – Beaver Brook (WHITE) goes through a huge split rock. A smaller piece sits next to the gigantic boulder it used to be part of.
Split Rock looks cool coming back the other direction too, with several sharp angles.
Continue following Beaver Brook (WHITE) through some ferns and overgrown areas.
Soon the trail approaches the shore of the lake.
4.1 – Beaver Brook (WHITE) comes to the edge of Lost Lake where there are logs to sit on and enjoy the view.
This is the turn around point, but the trail does continue past this log (note below).
A beaver lodge is across the lake and they’ve dammed the water on one end.
Zoom in to a beaver dam on Lost Lake, circa April 2014:
The dam from another angle, also from 2014. We were able to get closer to the edge of the water then.
Looking back at the trail along the lake.
When ready, turn around and retrace the route back on Beaver Brook (WHITE) to the YELLOW trail junction.
// Optionally, continue the adventure… The Beaver Brook (WHITE) trail continues another ~3.1 miles to a parking lot on Berkshire Valley Road. There is a water crossing on planks not long after this spot. We last did that 2015 so we don’t know the condition. Couple of viewpoints later are quite limited, and the trail is more rugged with several elevation changes from Lost Lake on. See Trail Blog links at page bottom for more detail. //
5.4 – Back at the junction with YELLOW from earlier, turn RIGHT to now follow YELLOW. [BLUE is ahead, and YELLOW is also to the left.]
// Out-and-back option: 8.2 miles. Instead, retrace the route back, BLUE to TEAL. Another option is BLUE to YELLOW back. //
// Shorter 5.6 mile version from here on. //
YELLOW is a more defined trail than Beaver Brook (WHITE) and an open swampy area is visible throught the trees to the right.
Cross a wooden footbridge. It may be wet and muddy before it.
YELLOW zig-zags uphill for a stretch.
6.2 – Veer RIGHT to now follow Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND). [YELLOW and Highlands continue ahead].
6.3 – Follow a side trail off to the RIGHT for two limited views – if you miss it, no biggie. The second view has a rock to sit on. Soon, the side trail meets back up with Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND).
Continue following Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND) as it meanders through the forest.
Pass a large glacial erratic on the side of the trail.
6.7 – Arrive at Headley Overlook. Trees block the view but a telephoto lens or monocular helps to see past them.
Directly behind is an arrow sign for “Lake Hopatcong” but we didn’t notice the lake in the distance.
We’ve been to Headley Overlook twice (2010 and 2012) and recalled Lake Hopatcong being just slightly visible. It could be blocked with foliage or we weren’t at the proper angle.
6.8 – Turn LEFT and now follow an unmarked woods road. On the park map this is marked as a service road. There is a sign for Headley Overlook. [Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND) continues ahead].
Continue following the wide gravely woods road downhill.
7.1 – Continue straight, now following YELLOW (co-joined with Highlands (TEAL DIAMOND)). [YELLOW and TEAL also go left].
7.7 – Back at the junction from earlier, veer right to just follow YELLOW. [Highlands continues straight, BLUE is left]. Follow YELLOW back to the parking lot.
Hiked: 6/12/21. Revised route.
Hiked: 8/15/15. Trail Blog: “Hiking Beaver Brook Trail Past Lost Lake“
Hiked: 4/13/14. Trail Blog: “Mahlon Dickerson – Beaver Brook to Lost Lake“
Hiked: 9/26/09. Trail Blog: “Beaver Brook Trail… and a bear in a tree“
Hiked: 4/14/06. 6.5 miles. To Lost Lake from Berkshire Valley Road.
Updated: 8/15/15 – Beaver Brook can be crossed at the power line cut via a long plank on a dirt embankment. 4/21/14 – re-hiked, description updated, photos added, and GPS track added. Due to it now being difficult to cross Beaver Brook at the power line cut (construction work disturbed the crossing), we’ve changed this hike to stop at Lost Lake instead of continuing into a 10 mile hike.