South Mountain Reservation is one of the last bastions of preserved space in a highly developed section of Northeastern New Jersey. The 2,000-acre tract encompasses a network of trails along braided streams and quiet forests. Despite its tranquil surroundings, visitors can access the park via mass transit, since the Millburn train station is across the street.
This 6-mile loop begins on the Rahway Trail, which follows the river of the same name north along a series of ponds and dams. Bug spray is recommended during summer months. As the route veers east, you’ll traverse a beautiful woodland setting.
Merge onto the Lenape Trail and follow it to Hemlock Falls. Whitewater pours down the jet-black rock face of an intimate gorge. This is one of the few public spots in the Essex County where a person can grab a sense of solitude and untouched, natural beauty. Climb up the Falls Overlook Trail to explore the headwaters and the upper gorge. Opportunities for sunbathing and wading are excellent here.
From the falls, the route gains a few hundred feet through more woods to a grassy, boulder-strewn summit area. Views of the western hills are unveiled once hikers leave tree cover.
Follow the Lenape Trail east to Washington Rock, a lookout for the Essex County and Newark Militia during the Revolutionary War. At more than 500 feet, this highpoint affords an impressive panorama to the south. This spot is a great place for watching foliage in autumn.
Descend from the monument, walking past a picnic area before closing the loop at the parking lot.
-mapped by MacKenzie Ryan
From NYC: Take the Lincoln Tunnel to NY-495 West. Merge onto I-95 South. Take the exit onto I-78 West. At 4.7 miles, take the Garden State Parkway exit. Merge onto I-78 West. At 3.4 miles, take exit 50B toward Maplewood/Millburn. Turn right at Vauxhall Road. Make a slight left at Millburn Avenue. Turn right at Essex Avenue. Turn right at Lackawanna Place. Turn right at Glen Avenue. Trailhead is on the right side of the road.