Norvin Green State Forest, Passaic County, New Jersey (northern section)

This was my fourth trip to Norvin Green. However, on previous hikes I visited the section of the forest to the south of West Brook Road. This time, I decided to investigate the trails to the north of West Brook Road. I brought along three friends, Nachi, Jon, and Yitz. My intent was to complete a lollipop loop hike, which would have been about 8 miles. However, the hike didn’t go as planned.

10:17 a.m.: The NY-NJ Trail Conference map shows a parking area along West Brook Road, near between two driveways near the Hill Top Airport. It’s not always easy figuring out where the parking areas are when arriving, and we had the same problem here. The eastern driveway had a wide spot with what looked like a beautiful gravel parking area, at GPS coordinates 41.0857, -74.3318. But the guys with me thought that it might be a problem to park within what appeared to be a private driveway. We thus went past the western driveway, parking on the south side of West Brook Road, at GPS coordinates 41.0860, -74.3330.

10:30 a.m.: We crossed to the north side of West Brook Road, stepped over the guardrail, and made our way down the trail to West Brook.

West Brook, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

West Brook

I don’t know if this was a high water day or not, but it was no trivial matter crossing the brook without getting wet. We carefully stepped over slippery rocks, and climbed over logjams:

Logjam at West Brook, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Logjam at West Brook

11:00 a.m.: We began a steep climb on the blue-blazed Hewitt Butler trail. Along the way we spotted a large branch that had fallen and been absorbed by the growth of twin trees. I have seen trees grow around wire fences, stones, and signs. But I would have thought that a fallen branch would have decomposed and wouldn’t have survived long enough to have been absorbed by these trees. Perhaps the fact that the branch is elevated from the ground has kept it from decomposing.

Trees growing around fallen branch, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Trees growing around fallen branch

11:12 a.m.: After climbing about 500′, we reached Manaticut Point, which rewarded us with a view to the south. It was a cloudy day:

View from Manaticut Point, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

View from Manaticut Point

We continued left (to the west) on the blue trail. There were many fallen trees:

Fallen tree, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Fallen tree

11:37 a.m.: At one point the trail descended, and I made my way down, photographing back up at Yitz (left) and Jon (right):

Descent past rocks on Hewitt Butler trail, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Descent past rocks on Hewitt Butler trail

Deer droppings:

Deer droppings

Deer droppings

Noon: Another panoramic shot:

Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Scenic View

There were many fungi:

Mushroom, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ


12:23 p.m.: I have been impressed by the large size of some of the root balls of fallen trees, and we found a huge one on this hike. Here I pose in front of it:

Posing in front of root ball, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Charlie posing in front of root ball

This shot of Yitz shows the entire root ball. It was most impressive:

Posing in front of root ball, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Yitz posing in front of root ball

Another shot of Yitz with the root ball:

Yitz posing in front of root ball, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Yitz posing in front of root ball

Another mushroom:

Mushroom, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ


A colorful rock:

Colorful rock, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

Colorful rock

12:38 p.m.: We had turned right (north) onto the white-blazed Overlook Rock trail, and when we reached Overlook Rock, if afforded a decent view. I took a few shots that I used to generate this fused HDR view:

View from Overlook Rock, Norvin Green State Forest, NJ

View from Overlook Rock

12:55 p.m.: We left Overlook Rock, continuing north on the white-blazed trail. Before long, I encountered a red eft:

Red eft

Red eft

As I was photographing the young salamander, Jon, Yitz and Nachi had gone on ahead. Yitz called back to me, saying something like, “Charlie, get up here, Nachi has fallen and hurt himself badly!” I was about 50 yards behind them, and quickly caught up. I was glad to see that Nachi was standing up, but he was holding one of his hands in the other. There was a handkerchief wrapped around his hand, red with blood, with more blood dripping onto the ground. Nachi had slipped and hit either a rock or stick that was very sharp, resulting in a deep cut into his palm. Of the four of us, Nachi himself was the one with the most first aid expertise, and he directed us to find more cloth bandages in his backpack, which we wrapped around his hand.

We had gotten off to a late start on the hike, and also we had been traveling very slowly, so even though we were over two hours into the hike, we hadn’t even traveled two miles. I can’t explain the very slow pace, but it worked in our favor, as we realized that we would have to abandon the hike and find medical care for Nachi. Yitz questioned whether we should phone 911, and while I thought that was unnecessary overkill, they decided to do so. He phoned and reported the accident, expressing concern over the risk of blood loss. (I don’t know much about medicine, but didn’t think there was a concern of blood loss from a hand injury.) The 911 operator instructed us to phone when we were ten minutes from the road, and they would send an ambulance.

We began retracing our steps, except that whereas we had moved at a ridiculously slow pace going into the hike, we now moved at a very fast pace, returning to the road after about 45 minutes. As we approached the road, we decided that we didn’t need an ambulance, and that I would simply drive Nachi to a hospital. Yitz phoned the 911 operator and let them know of our change of plans, while I programmed my GPS to lead us to the nearest hospital.

At the hospital, the medical staff was suitably impressed by Nachi’s deep palm laceration, and phoned a nearby hand surgeon, who drove to the hospital and stitched Nachi back together. We then drove back to Queens, and took Nachi to the drugstore to fill a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers.

Bandaged hand after hiking injury

Nachi’s bandanged hand

I hope to return to the northern part of Norvin Green State Forest someday soon, and complete the hike.

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