Recently I hiked Schooley’s Mountain in Morris County, New Jersey (#16 in the book Hiking New Jersey). Again, I was reminded how bad of a hiker I am. Luckily, my directional instincts are pretty good, but I spent a bunch of the hike feeling lost. It’s definitely time to invest in a compass!
My journey started off well. I found the parking lot after adjusting the GPS a bit. I was the only one there as usual. I left the car and headed across the street to Patriots’ Path. The trail was narrow but clear except for a few thorny stalks.
I made a few accidental detours while trying to ensure I was still on the right trail but ultimately, I made it to another parking lot where there were benches and picnic tables along with bathrooms.
The next part of the trail threw me off a bit as there wasn’t a sign pointing down to the lake. Fortunately, a couple of fishermen were walking back to their car so I deduced that the lake must be in the direction they were coming from. Sometimes I am just so smart! 🙂
I headed down the path hoping it was the right way as it was all downhill, and I really didn’t want to walk back up again. Sure enough, the lake quickly came into view. Unfortunately, the directions then called for me to cross a floating bridge. Bridges, me and dogs do not get along but the bridge looked wide enough and there were no waves or anything since it was a lake so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. But wait! Nothing is ever easy for me. There was a 5-sided piece of wood blocking off the bridge. Just then a couple walked by. I called out to them and they came over. I asked them if they ever saw the bridge closed. They hadn’t, so the guy decided to cross over the bridge to ensure it was safe for me to do so. Isn’t that awesome?
While he was crossing the bridge, his girlfriend was telling me about a cool hike where waterfalls were visible, but she didn’t think it would be good for me as my dogs were small and probably couldn’t do it. Well, lo and behold, the trail had me cross back over another bridge at the top of the dam a couple of minutes later and I had to do the rock scramble with the pups anyway!
Thankfully she had warned me about what the trail looked like, because I don’t know if I would have braved it without speaking to her first. On this same section of path you lose the trail markers again. While I was scrambling down rocks on my booty with Mimi in her pouch and Eli either scrambling along or in my arms, I realized that I was once again lost……but now I was lost at the bottom of a mountain. (Okay, to be fair, it would have been easy to backtrack – just follow the water, but I felt really lost!)
Fortunately, the book gives decent descriptions of the trail so I was able to wander a bit and find the right way to get back up the hill. For a while, the trail goes uphill which meant it was a good time to stop and snack. Soon we continued on our way and ran into our buddies again. Once again, they were extremely helpful. They called out to me from a ledge and insisted I check out the view. The guy even offered to hold the barking dogs for me so I didn’t have to worry they would fall over (and no, I didn’t think they would steal my dogs, lol). The view was very nice and I definitely would have missed it had I not run into them.
We didn’t stay long because at that point I was ready for the hike to be over. Unfortunately, the trail markers were not always clear on the way down, but it was easier to follow since I knew I just had to get back down the mountain.
Overall, I thought this was a nice hike and the park overall seems like a nice place to spend a day.