From the kiosk at the northeast corner of the parking area, follow the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, which bears right onto a gravel road leading to a picnic area. The trail continues through the picnic area, then bears left and begins to climb the First Watchung Mountain on a wide path. It bears right at a fork, then turns right at a T-intersection (marked by a chain-link fence) onto a woods...
From the kiosk at the northeast corner of the parking area, follow the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail, which bears right onto a gravel road leading to a picnic area. The trail continues through the picnic area, then bears left and begins to climb the First Watchung Mountain on a wide path. It bears right at a fork, then turns right at a T-intersection (marked by a chain-link fence) onto a woods road, continuing to climb.
At the top of the ascent, follow the yellow blazes as they turn left, leaving the wide path, and continue on a narrow footpath. The trail crosses the paved Crest Drive (closed to vehicular traffic), reenters the woods and begins to parallel the paved road. It reaches a limited viewpoint (marked by two benches), from which the New York City skyline may be seen to the left on a clear day (if there are no leaves on the trees), with the towers of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge visible in the distance to the right.
The trail now descends to cross the paved road, reaching a plaque on a boulder commemorating a Revolutionary War battle that took place near here. It continues to descend to an observation platform with stone pillars at the site of Washington Rock, from which George Washington surveyed the countryside during the American Revolution. The view from here is to the southwest, with Millburn and the NJ Transit railroad tracks visible below (partially obscured by the trees), and Watchung Reservation – the continuation of the Watchung range beyond the Millburn-Springfield gap – ahead in the distance. This is a good place to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, turn left and continue on the Lenape Trail, which descends on a footpath. Several unmarked side trails go off to the left, but continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. Soon, you’ll notice a fenced overlook on the left, about 100 feet from the trail. Below, you can see an abandoned quarry, with Millburn and the Watchung range visible in the distance.
A short distance beyond, the Lenape Trail crosses a bridle path and enters a less-used area of the reservation. After a short descent, it crosses a small stream, with the Maple Falls Cascade – where the stream plunges down a 25-foot sluiceway of exposed basalt – to the left, downstream.
The trail now follows a relatively level footpath. After crossing another bridle path, it turns sharply right at Lilliput Knob and reaches Beech Brook Cascades – where two brooks converge – about two miles from the start. Beyond the cascade, the trail begins a gradual climb, paralleling a brook in a shallow ravine to the right. After bearing left and crossing a bridle path, the trail climbs to reach Mines Point – named for exploratory pits dug by copper prospectors circa 1800. Here, the trail bears right and heads north, climbing gently through a relatively open area and passing a deer exclosure on the left (designated a “forest restoration site”). The trail then descends to reach Ball’s Bluff, where old stone pillars are remnants of a picnic shelter built in 1908.
The Lenape Trail continues to descend, crossing a bridle path on the way. Towards the base of the descent, it begins to parallel a stream in a ravine on the right. After crossing the stream on rocks, the trail crosses a road improved with large stone steps, then bears right and passes through an area with many rhododendron bushes. The Lenape Trail turns left at a T-intersection, crosses the red-on-white-blazed Hemlock Falls Loop, and descends on a switchback. After turning sharply left, it reaches the base of Hemlock Falls, a scenic waterfall. Benches have been placed here, and this is a good spot to rest and enjoy the beautiful setting.
When you’re ready to continue, cross a footbridge over the stream. (To the right are stone steps that lead to the top of the waterfall.) The Lenape Trail heads west, following a wide path along the stream and passing Hobble Falls on the right. Soon, it reaches a junction with a wide bridle path, marked by a signpost for the Rahway Trail. The Lenape Trail turns right at this junction, but you should continue ahead, now following the white blazes of the Rahway Trail. This trail will be your route for the remainder of the hike.
As the trail curves to the left, you’ll notice the start of a black-on-white-blazed trail on the right. Just ahead, the Rahway Trail crosses the Rahway River on rocks and immediately turns left to parallel the stream. Note: Unless the water level is low, this stream crossing is difficult or impossible. If you are unable to cross the stream, retrace your steps to the black-on-white trail, turn left, and follow this trail over the South Orange Avenue vehicular bridge and back to the Rahway Trail.
Soon, the Rahway Trail climbs gradually to run along the side of the hill, with the river below. This is a particularly beautiful section of the hike. After passing ruins of a stone building on the right, the trail descends to river level, crosses a tributary stream on rocks, and climbs over a rise, where a green/white trail joins.
Just beyond, you’ll reach an intersection with a bridle path. Turn left, following the white blazes, recross the river on a stone-faced bridge, and immediately turn right onto a footpath.
The white-blazed trail now heads south, running between the bridle path (to the left) and the river (to the right). For most the way, the trail closely parallels the river. As of this writing, much of this trail section is poorly blazed, but you should be able to follow the footpath that runs between the bridle path and the river.
After passing a low concrete dam in the river, the trail crosses Beech Brook (a tributary stream). If this stream crossing is difficult, you can detour on the bridge of the parallel bridle path. Soon, the road on the opposite side of the river (Brookside Drive) begins to run directly along the river. You’ll pass another low concrete dam in the river (the start of a blue/white-blazed trail).
Just beyond, the white blazes join the bridle path for 200 feet, then turn right and enter a rhododendron grove. Soon, you’ll pass to the left of Campbell’s Pond, where a large abandoned brick building – which once served as a pumping station for the City of Orange – may be seen along the river. The Rahway Trail now crosses Maple Brook on a stone-faced bridge, then crosses two branches of the bridle path. A short distance beyond, the trail turns left onto the bridle path, follows it for 200 feet, then turns right, onto a footpath.
About 0.2 mile beyond the dam at the southern end of Diamond Mill Pond, the Rahway Trail turns left, away from the river. It now passes through an area where tiny “fairy houses,” built of natural materials, are tucked into tree hollows and roots. This section of the Rahway Trail is also known as the Fairy Trail. Continue to follow the Rahway/Fairy Trail to its terminus at the Locust Grove parking area, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 02/24/2004 updated/verified on 01/27/2020
This loop hike includes a panoramic viewpoint, a scenic waterfall, and a stroll along a pleasant stream.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.