An enjoyable, relatively level trek through an attractive forest using the lower section of the Blue Mountain Loop that circuits Stokes State Forest.
11.0 miles, Surface ranges from super rocky to just dirt. Mostly level. Basically all shade. A few easy rock hops over streams. Challenging only in length.
- Shorter: ~7.0 miles – Cut over on Stony Brook instead of Tinsley.
- Longer: 17 miles – Tackle the whole enchilada! Guide for the other half: Blue Mountain Loop – Upper.
- Nearby: Sunrise Mountain; Tillman Ravine; Sunrise Mountain – Culvers Gap; Culvers Gap – Blue Mountain; Stony Brook Falls; Stony Lake Loop.
Our two cents:
We really enjoyed this loop and is what we’d call a “hiker’s hike”… just a nice trail in a beautiful forest and along a pretty stream – but with no particular goal or big “payoff” like a waterfall or viewpoint.
Can be done in the opposite direction, but doing it this way puts the best parts first (in our opinion). Some road noise slightly mars the otherwise isolated feeling of the hike.
Want a challenge or are into trail running? The Blue Mountain Loop is a combination of new and existing trails that enable a 17-mile circuit of Stokes. This route uses Tinsley to bisect the trail into upper and lower loops, but you can just keep following those blazes and do the whole thing. Apply lots of ice cream afterwards.
Print the park map or get one at the office but Kittatinny Trails is best – but be sure to use at least the 2016 version as earlier maps won’t have the complete trail. Other section of this trail is now in 50 Hikes in New Jersey.
Parking: N41° 11.125′ W74° 47.763′ [Visitor Center lot]
Rt 287 to Rt 80 West; Rt 15 North to Rt. 206 N.
While this park charges an entrance fee Memorial – Labor Day (covered by the NJ State Park Pass) this parking lot is before the entry gate.
At the visitor center. Also at Stony Lake about 8.5 miles into the hike (likely seasonal).
Overview: Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) – Tinsley (YELLOW) – Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT)
Note: Where the Blue Mountain Trail uses a preexisting trail, the old blaze remains under the new BLUE DOT on WHT blazes. These are not noted in the description because eventually those blazes will be removed.
0.0 – From the parking lot, follow the park road (Coursen Rd). Just after a vehicle bridge turn LEFT to start following Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT).
Super rocky for a bit. Most of the first 3.5 miles is a relatively new trail that wasn’t on the map before.
1.2 – Water comes into view on the right, toward the end of it is a side trail to get a closer look.
One of several rock hops.
2.3 – An old farm open area with grasses, large trees, and a rock wall containing a pond.
Large trees near the pond.
An easy rock hop over a stream.
2.5 – Continue following Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) as it turns RIGHT just before a small bridge over Big Flat Brook.
The trail runs along the brook and past a campground.
Continue following Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) along the scenic stream.
3.6 – Cross Kettle Road. Continue following Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) past the start of Stony Brook (BROWN) on the right and then BLUE/BLACK on the left.
[Shorter: Turning right onto Stony Brook (BROWN) leads to just past Stony Lake parking area, pick up the description on the park road at 8.7 below… while we’ve not hiked this variation, it should shorten the hike to about 7.0 miles.]
4.7 – Continue following Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) past Silver Mine (ORANGE) on the right.
5.4 – Continue following Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) as it crosses Skellenger Road.
5.6 – Turn RIGHT to now follow Tinsley (YELLOW), a wide woods road for a while. (There are several blazes, i.e. “purple finch” in this area that belong to the State School of Conservation and we haven’t noted their location.)
Very rocky section of trail.
6.7 – Continue on Tinsley (YELLOW) passing Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) is on the LEFT.
6.8 – Turn RIGHT to now follow Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) [Tinsley (YELLOW) continues ahead].
8.7 – Stony Lake parking lot.
// Optional: short walk over to the lake. Bathrooms may be open here, building on the left.
Follow Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) along the park road for just a bit before turning LEFT back into the woods.
9.5 – Pass Lead Mine (BLUE GREY) on the right.
10.5 – Continue on Blue Mtn (BLUE DOT on WHT) as it crosses a footbridge and then turns RIGHT onto a wide woods road.
10.9 – Turn LEFT on the park road towards the parking lot.