With a day off from work on a beautiful Thursday, October 21, 2009 I decided to head up to the hills to capture some of the peaking foliage. Kathy was working so this hike was going to be just me and the dogs, Scraps and Rags. After taking some stuff to the recycling center and grabbing a bagel we were off to the woods.
I kayaked solo without any dogs yesterday, so I thought I would go with the dogs somewhere that I could snap a few good shots of the wonderful autumn colors. I had two days off from work and I was making the best of them with respect to weather, recreation and the time of the year.
We headed out around 11:00 to the Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch trail in Rockaway Township. It is located 6.3 miles north on Green Pond Road from Rt 80’s exit 37 and then you take Upper Hibernia Road for 2.5 miles to this clearing in the road that leads to a trail head. There is very little indication this is even the destination or even a park. I mean it is forested around there but I could be walking into a hunting zone.
Kathy and I had hiked there around 5 years ago but exactly where everything would be was still a mystery. I didn’t have a trail map like I did 5 years ago but I did have my iPhone GPS in case I got into trouble.
We parked and started down the trail and we soon saw Beaver Pond, a mushy pond with vibrant colorful trees on the other side. With the sun at my back I was able to get and nice shot of the colors but the scum on the pond ruin a bit of the beauty contained in the reflections.
Finding the Hawkridge destination of the hike was difficult. The trail was blazed marginally at best and the fallen leaves obscured the direction of the trail. We missed the trail turn at some point and hiked down toward a brook that we had to cross a couple of times. On the way back, I found the turn-off I previously missed. This was the finally accent to the Hawkridge. In this area I saw my first person of the hike. We past him and headed to the summit. Once there we found two other people.
The Hawkridge is a large rock outcropping providing a clear view of the forested valley below with the Tourne several miles to the east and other hill crests further on. the day was crisp and clear and you could see far. In addition, the foliage was speckled with yellows, green, oranges and reds. It was like multi-colored broccoli below.
So we hung for about 30 minutes on the ridge and the headed down. Taking the easier utility path to the road and then back to the car. All in all it was about a 3-hour hike. The dogs were well behaved. I had Scraps on a very light 4-foot leash and let him off it the whole time. He sniffs, explores a little but keeps up with me where I hardly worry about him. Rags I had on the 20 foot lead and it also worked well. Both dogs were definitely pooped by the time we got back to the car that they both slept in the back seat on the way home.