Located near the Delaware River, the Musconetcong Gorge runs through hundreds of acres of forest and provides a home to countless species of wildlife ranging from wild turkeys to black bears. It features five major trails that take hikers through miles of forest, along a ridge, and past streams. This includes the Highlands trail, which travels over 150 miles between New York and Delaware. If you are looking for a simple, leisurely hike through the woods, then look no further.
What to Expect
There are two trails stemming from the parking lot: the Self-Guided Nature Trail on the left and the Ridge/Highlands Trail on the right. We opted to start out on the Ridge/Highlands Trail, marked by a green and yellow blaze. The trail snakes through thick foliage and has a few moderate climbs, but it is overall a relaxing walk through the woods. We were able to see deer, a snake, and even a flock of wild turkeys. After about half a mile, Kyle and I turned left onto the Nature Trail. If interested, hikers can go straight to continue along the Ridge/Highlands Trail, which extends for several more miles.
After crossing over the Scout Run stream, the Nature Trail continues briefly before connecting to the Waterfall Trail, marked with an orange blaze, on the left. We took the Waterfall Trail up a short but steep climb as it followed along the stream, and we were able to see a small waterfall. The rippling of the stream added to the peaceful atmosphere of the hike. (Note: The picture we took does not do the stream justice, as it is much more beautiful in person)
The Waterfall Trail quickly meets up with the red-blazed Railroad Trail. We turned right here, looping back towards the parking lot instead of going left towards the railroad itself. The Railroad Trail eventually becomes the blue-blazed Nature Trail again, and this took us back to the parking lot. There is a point where the trail splits again, but both paths lead to the same place.
As a whole this was not a tiring or difficult hike, and it would be perfect for families. The trail is well-marked in most places and is relatively flat, save for the occasional moderate incline. In terms of crowds, we encountered very few people along the trail or in the parking lot, so we were largely secluded; this was a plus. The hike that Kyle and I did was approximately a mile and a half and took under an hour (this was largely due to time constraints). A longer version of the hike can be achieved by continuing straight along the Ridge/Highlands Trail instead of turning left onto the Nature Trail. This then meets up with the white-blazed Switchback Trail. Following this trail leads to the Railroad Trail, where turning left would complete the loop. This extension adds another mile and a half or so.
Travel west on I-78 to exit 7 and bear right to Route 173 west. On route 173, drive 1.3 miles to Route 639. Turn left onto Route 639 and travel 4 miles. At the stop sign, bear left on Route 519, then turn left and cross the Musconetcong River, staying on Route 519. Take the next left onto Dennis Road (a gravel road); the parking lot is on the left.
There is a small lot on Dennis Road that had only three cars in it when we went on this hike (we arrived at around 1:00PM). This is not a terribly popular location, so we would not expect the lot to be full on most days. However, in our research we were unable to find another lot, so if the lot happens to be full, the only option may be to park along the side of the road.