The 2011 Pequannock River Coalition Fall Hike took place in West Milford’s Kanouse Mountain located in the Newark Watershed lands. The mountain is part of West Milford’s baker’s dozen-a series of mountains you can hike in West Milford.
The 1,100 foot Kanouse Mountain is located off of Route 23 North near Echo Lake Road in the Newfoundland section of West Milford. Dense woodlands surround the mountain to the north, Echo Lake is to the north east, Kanouse Brook is to the west, the Echo Lake Channel is to the east and Route 23 is to the south and southeast.
Kanouse Brook has a naturally regenerating trout population and drains into the Pequannock River.
Attendees of the hike parked off of Old Route 23 near the NJ Transit Park & Ride and walked to the entrance of the trail off of Route 23 North near the entering Newfoundland sign.
The hike took place on unmarked wood roads starting in a northeast direction to the summit of Kanouse Mountain where a large star, American flag and outstanding views were present.
Charlottesburg Reservoir was formed from the impoundment of the Pequannock River which is given C1 water classification. The C1 classification is used to indicate that the river is relatively unspoiled in comparison to other rivers in NJ.
As with all Pequannock River Coalition Hikes, Ross Kusher (the executive director of PRC) discussed different points of interest along the hike including ecology and geology. This interesting information makes a hike much more than a physical journey. The information provided by Ross’s expertise boosts the strength of your mind as you learn new aspects of your surroundings.
The geology of Kanouse Mountain and the surrounding highlands is estimated to be between 400-435 million years old and thought to be from the Silurian Period of the paleozoic era. Past glacier activity courtesy of the Wisconsin Glacier is evident by gentle slopes on the north side of the mountain and a sudden drop on the south side. As the Wisconsin glacier moved through the area 10,000 years ago it pushed rocks and carved out hillsides creating this phenomenon present throughout the highlands region.
Small trace amounts of copper have been found alongside the much more abundant iron in the highlands region. It is said that nearby Copperas Mountain was named so because of the copper that was once taken from it.
Occasionally the group came across muddy areas when the trail crossed through wetlands. These muddy spots are prime spots to look for animal prints. Ross pointed out this coyote print found in the picture above.
The group found this Wood Frog near the trail. Though hard to tell from this photo, wood frogs generally look like they have a robber’s mask on due to the dark patch which extends backward from their eye. These frogs are often found in moist wooded areas.
American Chestnut saplings were found periodically in the forest. Once a dominant tree in the forest canopy, the Chestnut blight has reduced the tree to the shrub layer. Once the American Chestnut reaches about twenty feet or so the blight strikes and kills it. The tree may die, but the root structure is still alive and sends up new sprouts. The American Chestnut Foundation is working to defeat the blight and restore its former footprint.
Other flora found includes these among others:
- Quaking Aspen
- White Oak
- American Beech
Ross explained that Black Bears love the fruits of Shadbush. He once tasted the berries and compared them to wet cardboard. White Oak Ross said was cherished by wildlife for its sweet acorns.
The hike was an estimated six miles and went in a loop fashion so that attendees came out the same way the came in. What a great fall hike!
The Pequannock River Coalition holds three hikes a year (Fall, Winter and Spring). They are worth checking out!
Remember, to hike in the Newark Watershed land a permit is required. For more information on obtaining a Newark watershed permit click here.
Feel free to e-mail NJUrbanForest at NJUrbanForest@gmail.com with any comments, memories or suggestion! Thank you and have fun exploring!
Echo Lake West is one of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever been on. The Echo Lake West trail follows the western shore of Echo Lake. Another trail exists (Echo Lake East) on the other side of the lake. It is not possible to do a loop around the lake due to houses located on the north eastern border of the lake. Echo Lake West follows the Highlands Trail , a NYNJCT Trail Conference project. The trail head is located at the office of the NWCDC located near Echo Lake Road.
Echo Lake is part of the Newark Pequannock watershed lands. The lake is an estimated 270 acres and is fed by the Macopin River. The Echo Lake channel and Macopin River drain from the lake and into the Pequannock River. The lake, with the exception of the northeast corner is completed surrounded by upland forest and wetlands. Kanouse Mountain sits to the west of the lake. Kanouse Mountain is around 1,100 feet in elevation.
One of the great things about hiking is you never know what is around the corner. For example, we saw this tree completely covered with claw marks and (though you can’t see it in this photo) black bear fur. Black bears do this to mark territory.
We also saw the Southern Leopard Frog pictured below. The Southern Leopard Frog is usually found near freshwater.
Flora found on the trail included:
Aside from a few muddy spots, the Echo Lake West trail is mostly dry until you reach near the end when wetlands abound.
It was near here that I found one of my favorite plants: Jewelweed
Our goal for the hike was to make it to this rock (shown below) rest a bit and head back.
However, due to what appears to be beaver activity, the old (white blazed) Echo Lake West trail which led from the Highlands Trail to this rock is impassable and the trail now ends near the wetlands section.
For me, one of the more unusual finds of the day was finding what appeared to be the shell of a freshwater clam in Echo Lake.
This trail is mostly flat and is located in the heart of the NJ highlands. For more information on Newark Watershed hiking trails and obtaining a Newark watershed permit click here.