Splitrock Reservoir, Morris County, New Jersey

Splitrock Reservoir is a popular location for area fishermen, and is encircled by a 13.8-mile trail. There are rolling hills but the elvation change doesn’t appear too steep. Unfortunately, I got there around 11:00 a.m., and it was also an overcast yucky cool day, so there was no way that I was going to hike 13.8 miles. Instead, I hiked a bit on a trail to the south of the reservoir, and also hiked a short distance around the reservoir before turning back. I probably only hiked about 3 miles.

The parking area is right off Split Rock Road, at the southern end of the reservoir. Finding the trail was a bit challenging, as it wasn’t obvious from the parking area. I crossed Split Rock Road and followed a dirt road up a hill behind the parking area to see if I could find any blazes. The road soon ended, and apparently was just to service a transmission line tower.

Driveway to powerline tower, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Powerline

While standing near the tower, I saw a footpath from there that led south into the woods, and even though it wasn’t blazed, I followed it for about 0.1 or 0.2 miles, and finally found the blue-blazed Splitrock trail. I followed the trail, which soon led to a boulder.

Boulder on blue trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Boulder

 

After a while, the trail crossed a woods trail and then immediately after that a stream:

Woods road and stream on blue trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Woods road and stream

Crossing the stream meant carefully balancing across rocks, and took a while.

Stream on blue trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Stream

The trail turned west, and then north. Another boulder:

Boulder on blue trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Boulder

This rock seemed out of place,and reminded me of the caprock of Schunemunk, which is a reddish-purple matrix studded with pebbles of white quartz and pink sandstone:

Matrix of quartz and sandstone

Matrix of quartz and sandstone

A fallen tree with one of the trail markers:

Fallen tree

Fallen tree

Another boulder:

Boulder on blue trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Boulder

I passed an extended family that was hiking with a small- to medium-sized dog that was off its leash. People always seem to ignore the fact that if dogs are allowed on trails at all, they are supposed to be leashed. The dog didn’t bother me at this moment, though later I encountered the same people and the dog starting barking at me and charged me. I ignored it, and happily it didn’t bite me.

Here’s a spot where one can see a bit of the reservoir:

Scenic View, Blue Trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Scenic view

A stitched panorama:

Stitched panorama, Blue Trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Stitched panorama

I’ve reached the end of the blue-blazed trail, and I turned right onto the white-blazed Four Birds trail.

White-blazed Four Birds trail, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

White-blazed Four Birds trail

Before long the white-blazed trail led me back under the transmission line, where someone (probably the utility) had cut a lot of brush. I heard motors and wondered if someone was working (with a chainsaw) on Sunday, but my question was soon answered when a couple of young men rode up on dirt bikes. They nodded at me and continued on. I don’t know if they were allowed to be there, but as with dogs off-leash, many people don’t follow the rules.

Transmission lines, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Transmission lines

The white trail then crossed Split Rock Road and brought me within site of the reservoir again. I hiked a short distance and found a woods road that the map showed led to a scenic view on the shore of the reservoir:

Woods road, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Woods road

Following the woods road did indeed lead me to the reservoir.

Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Splitrock Reservoir

I stopped here for lunch, though as it was an exposed area, it was getting pretty cold.

Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Splitrock Reservoir

I then followed the woods road back to the white-blazed trail and returned south, which is when I ran into the people with the unleashed dog that suddenly became nasty toward me.

When I reached Split Rock Road again, I turned east toward the parking area. This soon led across a dam at the southern end of the reservoir:

Dam, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Dam

South of the dam, there is Split Rock Furnace, a 32-foot high charcoal furnace built during the Civil War, which is well-camouflaged in the brown vegetation of winter:

Split Rock Furnace, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Split Rock Furnace

The furnace only operated about ten years. Iron was important in New Jersey and New York from the 1730s through the 1890s, when high-grade iron ore was discovered in Minnesota. No doubt there will be a greater contrast in the middle of summer when the furnace is surrounded by greenery. But at the beginning of April, it blends very well with the fallen leaves:

Split Rock Furnace, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Split Rock Furnace

A panoramic view of the south side of the dam:

Split Rock Furnace & Spillway of Dam, Splitrock Reservoir, NJ

Split Rock Furnace and the spillway of the dam

 

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