Adventures in Hiking – The Pequannock Highlands – Silas Condict County Park

I borrowed the book Hiking New Jersey from my friend. It lists 50 of NJ’s greatest hiking adventures. I had been having trouble finding good detailed information online for hikes nearby. This book is pretty good. It lists where the hike is, distance, difficulty, if dogs are allowed, fees and what the trail is like. It also gives a description of the hike and also gives distance details on what you will see at each point and where to continue the trail.

The problem with today’s hike in Silas Condict County Park (hike # 14 in the book) was that I thought I was solely following the white trail but I ended up on the red trail as well. I also couldn’t find the viewpoint at the end of the red trail so that was disappointing. My mileage on the hike was around 2.75 miles so I feel I was close to finding the viewpoint but close is not good enough!

Because I was walking with my Chihuahuas, I ended up doing a 34 minute mile which is really slow, but because of all the ascents, I can’t say I would have done it much faster without them. But hey! Let’s just blame them for my slowness and not the fact that I’m really out of shape!

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Start of white trail

The hike starts out pretty clear. You park in the first parking lot on the left and walk into the parking lot of a maintenance yard. Even though the trail is not marked with a sign, the trail is wide and clear to the right of the building.

 

 

 

 

If you follow along the directions in the book, they mention a viewpoint to the left .3 miles into the trail. Perhaps this has a better view in the fall when the trees have lost their leaves. All I could see were treetops.

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Viewpoint?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next left leads to a picnic table and then a bench that overlooks the lake (when trees have no leaves). It was a nice spot for me to stop and give the dogs some water and a snack.

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The trail continues on from there until you hit a large parking lot. From here, you just follow the parking lot around to the left, heading in the direction of the lake. Here is where I lost the white trail. I followed the instructions to head towards the ballfield and saw another wide, clear trail right by center field. Luckily, no one was playing ball that day or I may have gotten hit by a home run!

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Large open picnic area behind the casino/stone building

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Lake view from the other side of the casino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where I got confused. Upon entering this trail, you see the colors on the trees have now changed to red. In my limited hiking knowledge I felt like I remembered that if trails were overlapping, they would have both colors on the trees, but alas I forged ahead anyway since the book seemed to point me in that direction.

Stopped to spy on a chipmunk having lunch

Stopped to spy on a chipmunk having lunch

 

While on this section of the hike, I didn’t see any good views but did enjoy a quiet walk interrupted by only a few other people (It was a Tuesday.) I decided to turn around when I reached another large parking lot where I felt very lost and couldn’t figure out which direction to head. I finally decided to walk through the picnic area and ended up back on the trail I took to the parking lot. At least I knew that if I kept walking on that trail, I would eventually end up back at the car!

Eli couldn't miss out on the treats so he stuck his head in the slats of a bench to grab one

Eli couldn’t miss out on the treats so he stuck his head in the slats of a bench to grab one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I arrived back at the ballfield, I decided to walk on the side of the lake to see where that led. Lo and behold, there was the white trail! However, the map and markers showed that it was the end (or beginning) of the white trail. Just past the map was a locked gate, so I don’t know if the white trail used to continue around the lake but that area is now off-limits (although the fence is pushed down in one part, so if you really want to enter, you can hop it.)

Map by the locked gate

Map by the locked gate

There are a couple of nice places to sit and look at the lake here so it’s worth the detour.

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 On the way back to the car, I stayed to the left of the trail and didn’t detour to the picnic table or bench. The walk back was much quicker as it was mostly downhill.

Overall, this is a nice short hike, mostly shaded and fairly flat. My dogs were pooped by the end even though we stopped a lot. It would be good to pack a lunch and enjoy one of the many picnic areas or if they are taken (there were signs for reservations for each), just lay a blanket on the grass and do it old school! There are also restrooms by the casino by the lake and plenty of parking lots scattered throughout the park.

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This is the trail I took today – tracked by my Endomondo app.

View of full hike and surrounding area

View of full hike and surrounding area

View of red trail

View of red trail

View of beginning/end of hike, including detour to side of lake

View of beginning/end of hike, including detour to side of lake

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