Sample Chapter: Cushetunk Mountain Nature Preserve

 

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

– Frank A. Clark

 


Difficulty Rating: Challenging
Distance:  3.17 miles
Sun/Shade: Mostly shade
Location: Clinton Township, Readington Township
Highlights:  Views, rocks, solitude
Restrooms:  No
Parking: Dirt and gravel
Hunting: Yes

 

Directions:

1. From Clinton, take Route 22 east.

2. Turn right at Route 629, also known as the Round Valley Access Road.

3. Proceed 1.4 miles and turn left at the Boat Launch Ramp.

4. Follow this road for another 1.4 miles to Old Mountain Road.

5. Turn right and travel 1.5 miles. Parking for the park is just before the railroad tracks on the right.


 

As a result of the steep inclines, the Cushetunk Mountain trail, adjacent to Round Valley Reservoir, is definitely not for the faint of heart. Long pants are in order and hiking shoes recommended. Do not forget your water, and chances are that you would be glad to have along an energy bar.

 

The mountains were formed by volcanic activity more than 160 million years ago. The Lenni Lenape Indians called the area Cushetunk, which means “place of hogs.” You can almost envision the wild hogs traversing the narrow trails.

 

Although we’ve not seen them, we know that there is a pair of nesting eagles there, and we have heard the eaglets. The trail is closed from April 1 to August 1 to not disturb the eagles and their off-spring.

 

A great two-hour hike from the parking area starts where the trail is closed seasonally for the nesting eagles. The trail is well marked with white markers, and you will be heading upward. When reaching the top, you will be treated to a great view of the reservoir. Now proceed along the ridge trail, which is very rocky and dotted with rock outcroppings perfect for a break or a little personal meditation. The markers on this trail stop abruptly, which may present a dilemma whether to continue on or to turn back. If you feel a little adventurous, do go on. Keep the yellow Park System signs in sight, and you will encounter a trail (or path), which may or may not be marked where you pick it up. Head down the hill, and you will see white blazes painted on the trees. It is an easy walk back, which will probably make you smile after your earlier exertion. Just follow the power lines back to the parking area.

 

Perhaps you have only 30 minutes for a short hike or you want to introduce your children to this bit of County history where the walk isn’t too taxing. Walk out from the parking area, following the power lines, until you reach the start of a trail. It is single track through the woods, fairly level, and not too long –about 30 minutes.