June 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hike Pyramid Mountain in Morris County

This four-mile, easy-to-moderate hike in Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Morris County runs along a scenic reservoir, goes by two unusual glacial erratics—Tripod Rock and Bear Rock—and reaches two panoramic viewpoints. The hike should take about three hours, and dogs are permitted on leash. A map is available at www.morrisparks.net/index.php/parks/pyramid-mountain-natural-historic-area 

To get there, take Route 4 West to Route 208, and continue on Route 208 to I-287 South. Take Exit 47 (Montville, Lincoln Park), and turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto Main Road (U.S. Route 202). Continue on Main Road as the road makes two sharp turns—first to the left, then to the right. In 0.6 mile, just before reaching a fire station, turn right onto Taylortown Road.

Continue on Taylortown Road for 1.8 miles until it ends at Boonton Avenue (County Route 511). Turn right onto Boonton Avenue and continue for 0.7 mile to the entrance to the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, on the left side of the road, opposite the Mars Park Corporate Center. GPS address: 472 Boonton Avenue, Montville, NJ 07045.

From the southern end of the parking area, follow the Blue Trail, which starts just north of a kiosk and immediately passes a memorial plaque for Stephen Klein, Jr. In 150 feet, you’ll reach a junction where a branch of the Blue Trail goes off to the right. Continue ahead on the Blue Trail, which crosses Stony Brook on a wooden footbridge. Just beyond, you’ll reach a fork, where the loop of the Blue Trail begins. Bear right at the fork and follow the eastern leg of the Blue Trail, which crosses under power lines and heads north along a nearly constant contour, with huge boulders above on the left and a camp recreation area (with a grassy ballfield, a picnic area and a small pond) below on the right.

After a quarter of a mile, you’ll notice a large cairn and a triple-orange blaze to the right. This marks the start of the Orange Trail. Turn right and follow the Orange Trail, which continues on a relatively level path for another quarter of a mile, then bears right and descends to the shore of Taylortown Reservoir. It continues along the shore of this scenic reservoir, soon reaching a rock ledge overlooking the reservoir. You’ll want to stop here to enjoy the view.

After briefly detouring inland and passing cliffs to the left, the trail returns to the shore of the reservoir. At a rock ledge overlooking an island in the reservoir, the trail turns left and begins to climb Pyramid Mountain. Soon, you’ll notice a huge tree, with four trunks, just to the left of the trail. Here, the climb steepens for a short distance, but the grade soon moderates.

At the top of the climb, the Orange Trail reaches a viewpoint to the east from a rock ledge, marked by a lone cedar tree. The trail now bears left and, 100 feet beyond, reaches a junction (marked by a cairn) where the Green Trail begins on the right. Turn left to continue on the Orange Trail, which runs along the ridge of Pyramid Mountain, passing through dense stands of mountain laurel. At the next junction, the Orange Trail turns right, but you should continue straight ahead, now following the Blue Dot Trail.

In about half a mile, you’ll reach Tripod Rock—a huge boulder, perched on three smaller stones. Geologists explain that this boulder was deposited here by glacial action, although some believe that it may be a Native American calendar site.

When you’re ready, continue heading south along the ridge on the Blue Dot Trail. Soon, you’ll notice a purple-blazed side trail on the right. Follow this trail, which leads in a short distance to Lucy’s Overlook, named for Lucy Meyer, who led the crusade to save the area from development. There are views to the south and west over Stony Brook Mountain from rock outcrops. Continue ahead on the purple-blazed trail until it ends at the Blue Dot Trail, then turn right onto the Blue Dot Trail.

Soon, the Yellow Dot Trail begins on the right. Turn right, leaving the Blue Dot Trail, and follow the Yellow Dot Trail, which soon begins a steady descent. After a short level stretch, the Yellow Dot Trail bears left and crosses Bear House Brook on a wooden bridge.

Directly ahead is Bear Rock. This massive glacial erratic, which can be said to resemble a giant bear, has been a local landmark for centuries. It was probably used as a shelter by Native Americans, and today it marks the boundary between Kinnelon Borough and Montville Township. Here, the Yellow Dot Trail ends. You should turn left and follow the Orange Trail along an old woods road, bordered with a rock wall on the right. Soon, the Pink Dot Trail departs to the right, but you should continue ahead on the Orange Trail.

The Orange Trail crosses Bear House Brook on a wooden bridge and soon begins to parallel power lines on the right. In about half a mile the Orange Trail ends at a large cairn. Bear right and continue ahead on the Blue Trail, which soon turns left, climbs a little, then descends gradually, crossing under the power lines.

Continue ahead on the Blue Trail, bearing right at the next junction (where the loop of the Blue Trail begins). After crossing a footbridge over Stony Brook, follow the Blue Trail back to the parking area where the hike began.

This hiking article is provided by Daniel Chazin of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. The Trail Conference is a volunteer organization that builds and maintains over 2,000 miles of hiking trails and publishes a library of hiking maps and books. The Trail Conference’s office is at 600 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah; (201) 512-9348; www.nynjtc.org. Daniel Chazin can be reached at [email protected].

By Daniel D. Chazin

 

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