Casting about on Sunday, I decided to walk the woods. Saturday’s skate roller ski session turned into a double pole session quick as I discovered that skating torques my knee in an unwelcome way. I wasn’t up for a bike ride. First because of the stress fracture and now because of my sprained knee, I haven’t taken fullest advantage of my Newark Watershed Conservation & Development Corporation (NWCDC) permit. I may not be able to run at the moment, but walking doesn’t seem to be an issue. I headed out to the Timberbrook Road trail head of the Four Birds Trail.
The trail head is located at – you guessed it – the end of Timberbrook Road, off Green Pond Road in Rockaway Township. At the end of the road, a modest parking area abuts the entrance to a Boy Scout camp.
Setting out, I walked a trail marked in yellow that trends slightly downhill. After 10 minutes and two piles of bear scat, I arrived at the junction with the Four Birds Trail. Here is where one enters NWCDC property, and one need one’s permit. In the spring I’d headed south one day to Split Rock Reservoir. Today, I headed north towards Charlottesburg Reservoir.
From the junction, one walks north beside Timberbrook Pond. The south end is marshy, filled with cat o’nine tails. Near the beaver dam at the north end, an Adirondack guideboat and a couple of rowboats were stashed in the brush. Leaving the pond and crossing a woods road, the forest had a dense understory. Beech trees and mountain laurel dominated here.
All along the way, the trail is primarily a collection of trail markers and wishful thinking. For sure there’s been maintenance: deadfall cut into manageable pieces and some recently painted blazes. But there’s a lot of rock-hopping and places where the brush is, uh, brushing your ankles. Although I can’t prove it, I’d guess that the restricted access contributes to the trails being overgrown.
Taking in the view on the ridge overlooking the reservoir, I decided to return via the network of roads. They’re not marked trails; some, but not all of them, are on the NY-NJ Trail Conference map. If worse came to worst and I got lost, I could bushwhack due west to Green Pond Road.
At each intersection, I built a cairn in case I had to retrace my steps. worked my way south, heading for the red-marked Donofrio trail, which would take me back to Four Birds.
I found the Donofrio trail, but in spite of my care I was east of where I’d intended, on a road parallel to the one I’d thought I was on. No worries, there was plenty of light and it was a learning experience. I took time to check out a 1968 Chevy Impala, abandoned way off the road. Unlike Hibernia to the south, I hadn’t seen any signs of habitation – foundations and the like.
There’s a lot more to explore here. In May, I walked south from the pond to Split Rock Reservoir. I’m still looking for the magic trail that lets one loop around the reservoir. When I’m back to running, I’ll be able to cover more ground and hopefully I’ll find it.