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High Mountain Park Preserve. Wayne, New Jersey.

You wouldn't think that in the Wayne/Paterson, New Jersey area there would be enough acreage for a wilderness preserve. Well, there is. It's called the High Mountain Park Preserve (HMPP), and it lies just north of William Paterson University. I believe some time in the past there was a fight to save the area from development, and the result was the HMPP. If you happen to be driving on I-80 West, just when you're at the Paterson exists, look to your right (North) and you will see a series of peaks. The highest peak is High Mountain and to the left is Mount Cecchino. Not so obvious is Beech Mountain which lies to the northwest of High Mountain. You'll need to stretch your neck for that one, and probably cause an accident on the interstate. All three peaks comprise the Preakness Range.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I decided to climb the 875-foot High Mountain. It's a popular climb among hikers, not too hard but not too easy either. We started on the Red Trail which is accessible on College Road. There is a small parking lot at the trail head. If the lot is full, one can use Parking Lot 6 of the university.

To reach the top, one has to begin at the Red Trail, turn right on the Yellow Trail, follow it to the top. On the return, continue on the Yellow Trail as it takes you down the other side of High Mountain where it joins the Red Trail again. Turn left (South) on the Red Trail and take it all the way back to the parking lot. This is the popular loop and it is tougher than it sounds. It took us 3.5 hours to complete the hike. You can see the layout of the trails on this Trail Map

One thing that is seldom mentioned in hikers' online comments is the rocky nature of the trail. More here than on other trails, a hiker has to pay attention as to where he plants his foot lest he twists his ankle too much and too soon. This rocky aspect of the trail slowed us down significantly.

Much to my disappointment, we didn't see a single deer, black bear, or snake. Late March means cold temps, and so the snakes must still be in their holes. As for the deer and black bears, they've probably been killed off, at some other area, through those bogus animal population control programs instituted by county officials or the NJ Fish and Wildlife Department. What we get is a preserve without large, wild, but harmless animals. Shame.

Once on the summit, on a clear day, facing East, you can see as far as Manhattan's skyline. I could pick out familiar landmarks just a few miles away like the Nabisco Building on Route 208, the blue watertower in Fairlawn. No wonder the summit was used as a lookout point during the revolution. The video above shows quite a bit of the trail. Obviously, the video was shot during the Fall while we hiked the trail still under Winter conditions. Hiking in Winter conditions means better visibility on the trail; I could see two blazes away. There were no leaves to obscure our line of sight.

The video below, I took it just below the summit, on the way down. It's self-explanatory.


Catherine said…
Ted, thank you for sharing these videos.

I cannot help recall Emerson's words:

"In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair."

I think the woods make as fine a final resting place as I can think of.
Chessbuff said…
Hiya Catherine,

Emerson and Thoreau, their heads were screwed on the right way. We are among friends when we are in the woods. Nature does not seek to humiliate us, only to share her beauty and grandeur.
Ed Zachary said…
Not sure why you are ragging on the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife. They do a great job managing our state's wildlife. I regularly hike in High Mountain Park Preserve and I almost always see white-tailed deer. I counted 12 on my hike today. I very rarely see deer on the loop that you describe on your hike--that's probably why you saw none. Although, I have seen a red fox on the red trail near the eastern terminus of the yellow trail.

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