Allamuchy Mountain State Park in western New Jersey encompasses 9,092 acres of rolling and rugged terrain. The Park has two distinct sections for mountain biking, the Allamuchy Natural Area Trails (Deer Park) and Allamuchy North Trails (Waterloo). With the two sections combined, over 35 miles of trails (11 in the Allamuchy Natural Area and about 25 in the Northern section), provide mountain bikers of all skill levels and abilities with plenty of mouth watering singletrack adventures and opportunities for a diverse mountain biking experience.
The Allamuchy Deer Park Natural Area is a patchwork of varied natural habitats. More than 14 miles of relatively level, well-marked and maintained singletrack trails and double-track forest roads wind through a medley of woodlands, marsh and fields maintained to show successional development of a mixed hardwood forest.
The trail surface is mostly hard-packed dirt and gravel with several muddy, rocky, and rooty sections. You will occasionally have to dodge thorny Barberry bushes in places where the trail gets narrow. Several trails provide access to and panoramic views of scenic Deer Park Pond which is centrally located within the Allamuchy Natural Area. Both beginner and intermediate level riders will find this section of Allamuchy a challenge.
The Deer Path Trail
Trailhead: Face the exit to the first parking lot and look for the trailhead in the upper right corner. The Deer Path Trail is a perimeter trail that lassos and connects to the other trails in the Allamuchy Deer Park Natural Area. From the first parking lot, the Deer Path Trail junctions with the following trails at the distances listed below.
Riding in a clockwise direction, the Deer Path Trail like most trails at Allamuchy Mountain State Park, begins with a sustained climb before easing into rolling terrain. There are several boardwalks on this bike ride that take you through swampy sections. At about 5 miles, the trail once again meets the Lake View Trail (blue) offering nice views of Deer Park Pond to the right. After riding across a dam and into the woods, you'll begin a moderate climb. You'll need good bike handling and coordination skills to navigate your mountain bike through loose and rocky terrain on the descent. A hard right turn brings you to another climb and eventually out to a gravel road, the junction with the Lake View Trail (blue). Take the gravel road back to the parking area to complete the Deer Path Loop Ride.
The following trails can be accessed from the Deer Path Trail (see list above).
Birch Trail: Yellow blazes - 0.6 miles
Barberry Trail: Red blazes – 0.8 miles
Lake View Trail: Blue blazes – 1.7 miles
Waterloo North Trail: Orange blazes – 0.9 miles / Waterloo South Trail: green blazes – 0.5 miles
The infamous 20+ mile trail network of Allamuchy Mountain State Park North (Waterloo) is now marked, but take a trail map with you (try the kiosk at the parking lot or local bike shop). Because it is a fairly large area, you can easily become disoriented. This area of the Allamuchy Mountain State Park is a favorite MTB destination for advanced riders. The terrain is very rugged and geared for the expert mountain biker who craves technical challenges. You will encounter everything from demanding hill climbs and rock gardens to gullies and log jumps.
Waterloo/517 Trail: white blazes – 5.3 miles
Trailheads: From the Sussex Branch Trail parking lot, the following trails junction with the Sussex Branch Trail at the distances listed below.
Pebble Loop: Yellow blazes – 3.1 miles
Ranger Loop: Red blazes – 2.6 miles
Iron Mine Loop: Blue blazes – 1.3 miles
Waving Willie Trail: Green blazes – 3.4 miles
Ditch/Cardiac Trail: Purple blazes – 3.2 miles
Take the Switchback Loop in a clockwise direction to the Ditch/Cardiac Trail. The Ditch/Cardiac starts with gently rolling terrain, winds through a small grove of pines and crosses a small creek. Bear right and begin a moderate climb which crosses an old logging road several times during the ascent. After the man-made rock "bridge", the trail flattens briefly before climbing once again. The descent takes you over technical terrain with loose rocks and exposed bedrock. Bear left and you'll eventually meet up with the Waterloo/517 Trail.
Switchback Loop: Orange blazes – 2.0 miles
In a counter-clockwise direction, the trail begins with a short climb, bears right and winds through a pine grove. Ride over rolling terrain with some short climbs and descents and small creek crossings. In places you can still see sections of old RT 517. The trail parallels the new RT 517, then makes a hard left to begin a moderate sustained climb. At the top is the junction with the Ditch/Cardiac (purple) Trail. Turn to the left and begin a slightly technical descent before returning to the trailhead.
Highland Trail: Teal blazes – 3.8 miles
This multi-use trail intersects the Waterloo/517 (white) Trail, Ranger (red) Loop, Pebble (yellow) Loop and Sussex Branch Trail as it winds through the park. It is technical with rocky sections and steep climbs and descents. About 1 mile from the Waterloo Rd trailhead there are great views overlooking the Musconetcong River.
Byram Trail: no blazes – 1.7 miles
This trail winds through the woods over gently rolling terrain and intersects with the Highland (teal) Trail along its route.
The Sussex Branch Rail Trail: A 3 mile section of the Sussex Branch Rail Trail starts at Waterloo Road and heads northwest towards Cranberry Lake. Using an old railroad bed, this trail provides hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians a route from Waterloo Road through Kittatinny Valley State Park to Branchville, New Jersey
The majority of the land, 8,398 acres, that composes Allamuchy Mountain State Park was part of the Rutherford and Stuyvesant estates, owned by the direct descendants of Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of New Amsterdam. The State of New Jersey purchased this property with green acres bond funds in the 1970's. 228 acres of Stephens State Park were donated to the State of New Jersey for recreational purposes in 1937 by the late Marsena P. and Augustus W. Stephens.
Allamuchy, located on the banks of the Morris Canal on the Musconetcong River, has gone through many transitions. It stands on the site of the Lenape Indian village called Allamuchahokkingen, or Allamucha. The earliest white settlers in the area were Quakers who established grain and saw mills, a grain distillery, general store, a tavern and several dwellings.
The "Quaker Settlement" as it was called, was a station on the "The Underground Railroad" route which followed the banks of the Walkill River through Sussex County into New York State. This route to freedom for southern slaves was started by the Quakers in the 1780's. It was a network of escape routes that originated in the southern slave states during the period of American history that led up to the Civil War. It eventually spanned twenty-nine states, as well as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Points Of Interest
Waterloo Village Historic Site
Waterloo Village, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is part of Allamuchy State Park. This restored early 19th-century canal town was at it's peak during the Morris Canal Era. It is an open-air museum that provides a walking adventure that takes you through time. Beginning at a 400-year old Lenape (Delaware) Indian village called Winakung ("Place of Sassafras") built on an island in Waterloo Lake you'll travel past striking Victorian buildings to a port along the once thriving Morris Canal.
The village contains restored canal structures, Plane Tenders house site, working mill complex with gristmills and sawmills, Smith's general store, mule bridges, blacksmith shop, church and several historic houses. Music programs, festivals and special events are presented at varuious times of the year.
Just about a mile upstream from Stephens State Park, Saxton Falls which contains the remains of Guard Lock 5, one of the Morris Canal's 28 locks along with a dam and section of the old canal's towpath .
Check with the Canal Society of New Jersey Museum located at Waterloo Village or the park for schedules and more information.
Allamuchy Mountain State Park is located three miles north of Hackettstown between Willow Grove/ Waterloo Road. (Route 604) on the east, Route 517 on the west, and Cranberry Lake (Route 206) on the north.
Allamuchy Natural Area: take I—80 to exit 19 and head south on Rt.517. Turn left onto Deer Park Rd. and park at either the first or second parking lot.
Allamuchy North and the Sussex Branch Trail: take I-80 to exit 25 and head north on Rt.206. Turn left onto Waterloo Rd. (County Rd.604). Look for sign on right for Sussex Branch Trail parking at Allamuchy State Park.
For more information
Allamuchy Mountain and Stephens State Park:
Phone: (908) 852-3790
Mountain Bike Club Website: JORBA (Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association)