In the mid 1800s Chester, New Jersey, was the home of the iron ore industry; railroads shipped the ore all over the county. With the end of the industry, however, the rail lines were abandoned, turned into trails, and the area is now managed by the Morris County Park Commission. The Black River County Park Trail is a poignant reminder of the once industrial nature of what has became a beautiful, unspoiled river valley.
This trail follows the Black River and passes by the northern section of Hacklebarney Pond. It was donated in 1962 by Elizabeth Kay and many other private landowners.
From Cooper Mill, follow the Black River Trail's blue blazes downstream, arriving at where an old trestle of the Hacklebarney Mine Railroad spanned the river. Keep following the blue blazes, which soon join the railroad right-of-way. Eventually you arrive at Kay's Pond below old mine areas on the slope to the left. Beyond the pond is the refurbished dam and the Hacklebarney mine site, which are chained off.
From here, the trail follows the obscure right-of-way of the former Langdon Mine Railroad. The Patriot's Path
turns away from here just before a former bridge site over the Black River. The crossing is obscure, and the abutments heavily deteriorated. For more information on Chester area rail trails, visit www.njskylands.com/odhikerail.htm.
Patriot's Path continues south and has several spur trails leading to and around Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Education Center, Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center and Willowood Arboretum. In Willowood Arboretum, the trail once again follows a railway, the former Rockaway Valley Railroad (1888-1916).
Take Route 206 to Chester then take Route 513 west for two miles until you reach Morris County Park Commission's Cooper Mill on the left. Park in the lot adjacent to the mill complex.