SCHOOLEY'S MOUNTAIN PARK
Springton Road, Washington Township, Morris County, NJ
(201) 326-7600
782 acres


Directions:

00.0 US Route 80
59.? Exit 27A for Route 206s
8.1 right onto Route 513 (sign for Hackelbarney State Park)
4.4 right onto Route 124 (Schooley's Mountain Road)
1.5 right East Springtown Road (at the Washington Township Police Department just
past Rock Spring Park)
1.0 right entrance

Or another way. North of Route 24 and west of Route 206. Springtown Road. Schooley's Mountain Park can be reached from Route 24, about one mile west of Long Valley. Turn right on Camp Washington Road and proceed one mile to park entrance. Park in the first parking lot on the right, near the playground and lake boathouse.


Geology:

A gap between Musconetcong Mountain and Schooley's Mountain at Hampton offers easy access to the Musconetcong Valley from the south. (Wacker 1968:4)


History:

Schooley's Mountain is named after early Quaker land owners, but the Lenape Indians had been gathering in this area long before European settlers arrived.

1790s  -- Schooley family owned the land.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people traveled by rail and stagecoach to "take the waters" of spas located on Schooley's Mountain, one of the highest and most heavily forested hills in Morris County.

There were three stone quarries on Schooley's Mountain that produced granite to use in house construction houses (some of which are  now historic landmarks).

Later in the 20th century the mountain was a favorite destination of children, with the Morristown YMCA operating a camp, called Camp Washington, on the grounds of what is now Schooley's Mountain Park from the 1920s through the 1950s.

1920s  -- Girl Scouts often used the area. 

The forest consists of third- and fourth-growth trees.

The Morris County Park Commission purchased the camp in 1968, and opened the park in 1974.

Sources:

BY DAN GOLDFISCHER, Special to the Daily Record

James A. Duffy. A Day in the Life: Washington Township Tuesday February 5, 2002. Daily Record. http://www.dailyrecord.com/news/dayinthelife/washingtontwp/mountain.htm


Habitats:

woods, fields, lake, brook


Facilities:

Ballfield, bath/boathouse, boating, cross-country skiing, swimming, picnic sites, fishing, sledding, ice skating, playground. Restroom, public phone, changing room and first aid located in bath/boathouse. Boating: Rowboat and paddle-boat rental. 11 AM to 6 PM. Swimming : Weekends only -- Memorial Day weekend to mid-June. Daily -- Late June to Labor Day.

The swimming beach on Lake George, with its floating-bridge diving platform, was closed by the county because of low use and continuing pollution problems from a nearby sewage plant, but boating is still available. Picnic grounds are shaded and a great place to be on a hot summer day.


Trails:

Grand Loop Trail
From the picnic tables, the trail goes northeast, then southeast, then west, and finally northwest that leads back to the parking lot and hence to the picnic tables.

Upland Meadow Trail:
Goes from the picnic tables to hook up with the Grand Loop Trail giving a somewhat longer loop trail than just using the Grand Loop Trail itself.

Patriot's Path:
This trail heads southeast to the Falls and the Overlook; east across Fairview Avenue to hook up with the Columbia Trail.

There are two miles of hiking and nature trails.

BY DAN GOLDFISCHER, Special to the Daily Record

There is a directory with a trail map in the parking lot. From there, it is about one mile to the overlook of Long Valley, if you follow the road that goes past the rest rooms, turn left at the trail intersection near a rock outcrop, and the follow that trail to the overlook. From the overlook, there is another trail that goes directly back to the parking lots, and also a trail down to the falls of Electric Brook. The walk back up the brook towards the parking lots requires some climbing over rocks. There are also trails from the far end of the upper left (on the map) parking lot, that can be used to walk a two and a half mile loop that visits the overlook.
The park offers a secluded outdoor chapel in the woods, a challenging rock scramble down a stream bed to beautiful waterfalls, and an overlook commanding a view of the still-agricultural valley far below.

Start at the parking lot nearest the lake, boathouse and playground. Walk down to the boathouse and cross the floating bridge. Head up the trail into the meadow on the other side of the lake, and turn left toward the flagpole. Then climb up to the old lodge building. Walk to the front of the building, through the dirt parking area and down toward the right side of the building.

Look for a well-maintained stairway heading down into the woods. This will take you past an open-air chapel, as pleasant a spot for quiet meditation as you'll find in this county. Continuing past the chapel the trail becomes narrower and steeper, and the sound of Electric Brook louder, until you are down by the brook.

Turn left, heading toward the dam at the end of Lake George which has a bridge, often with several fishermen, just below it.

The official park map shows trails along Electric Brook but rock scrambles are a way to describe them. The going is steep and challenging, and you will have to pick your footholds carefully, around rocks, along muddy slopes and over fallen trees.

If you have difficulty with this type of walking, or if there have been recent heavy rains, I recommend an easier alternative, described at the end of this article.

When you reach the bridge, turn right to cross it and turn right at the first path, coming back down along Electric Brook on the other side. The path is in excellent shape for the first few hundred feet. Look for concrete abutments with a semi-circular cutout, former supports for a large pipe, and down by the stream near a small waterfall you will see the concrete foundation of a former powerhouse.

After this point the trail pretty much disappears. Follow the stream, picking your way from rock to rock. This is not like the easy, flat rock scramble in Hacklebarney State Park — it is a steep, sometimes hairy rock scramble over rockslides and alongside the steep banks of a ravine.

Although the trail on the other side of the stream is in somewhat better condition here, it can be difficult to cross the stream. You will eventually make it to a major double waterfall and feel somewhat like a pioneer in the wilderness, as you are far from the crowds, deep in the forest, and the stream is all you can hear.

The trail suddenly reappears at the waterfall. Look up at the falls and the ravine you just climbed down — it almost appears that the falls are a gate to the wilderness.

Turn left when you reach a fence marking private property and climb up a trail that goes for a while next to that fence. This trail is wide and obvious, but sometimes muddy due to the prevalence of mountain springs. After a short climb you will reach a great pile of rock that is left over from a quarrying operation. Either scramble up the rock or follow the trail, and you will reach an overlook that peers out over Long Valley.

Your difficult trail walk is behind you now. Return from the overlook to a junction of two well-maintained trails, almost roads, and take the one to the right. In about five or 10 minutes you will reach a junction. Turn right on a dead-end path to check out a huge pile of boulders that appears as though some giant baby was playing with rocks and plopped them randomly in the woods. This spot is a winter overlook when the leaves are down.

Return to the junction and go straight ahead on another wide road-like trail. In less than a mile a restroom building will be in sight. Turn left at a trail before the building, then turn right. This leads to the natural amphitheater where the Morris County Park Commission holds several summer concerts. Walk down the steep amphitheater (you'll probably have to run), then turn right to walk alongside Lake George to the boathouse, and back up to your car.

If you wish to avoid the difficult parts mentioned above, you can still see the highlights (floating bridge, chapel, old powerhouse, overlook, falls and amphitheater) but the cost will be a slightly longer walk that is not a loop.

Follow the directions above to the chapel, then turn around and return to the old lodge building. Return to the lake, turn right, and cross the bridge below the dam. Turn right at the first trail to view the powerhouse ruins, then return to the lake and turn right again.
Turn right beyond the amphitheater to head toward the picnic pavilion, then turn right at the trail marked "Overlook 0.8 Miles." This trail leads to the rock outcrop.

Turn right at the junction, proceed down to the overlook, and after viewing that, continue downhill to the falls. Then reverse yourself, following the main directions back to Lake George.

The most recent addition to Schooley's Mountain is a new section of Patriots Path. One part goes down the hill to Fairview Avenue, but a more level three-quarter mile section runs from East Springtown Road to Rock Avenue. This trail generally follows the route of Electric Brook, and in season the plants near the brook create a lush green environment. The Park Commission has installed several sections of boardwalk and three bridges, so mud should not be a problem. There is a small gravel parking area at the start of the trail, near a bridge on East Springtown Road; you can also reach this trail by following the white blazes that go past the back of the large parking area. Bicycles are not allowed on this trail.

Today you can drive the still-scenic route through Long Valley and up the mountain to the park.
DAN GOLDFISCHER of Succasunna is the author of several bicycle guidebooks, including "Ride Guide/North Jersey" and "Ride Guide/Central Jersey."


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
date = date plant found in bloom, 4/05/2000


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple) 4/05/2000 4/18/2005
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus sp. (pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Salix sp. (willow) 4/05/00
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) lots and lots of it
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 4/05/2000 4/18/2005
Rhododendron sp. (maximum)? (rhododendron) planted
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)

Vines:
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Centaurea sp. (knapweed)
Cirsium sp. (thistle)
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)