Black River County Park Trail

New Jersey

2 Reviews

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Black River County Park Trail Facts

States: New Jersey
Counties: Morris
Length: 2.3 miles
Trail end points: Cooper Mill and Kay Environmental Center
Trail surfaces: Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016543

Black River County Park Trail Description

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

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).

Parking and Trail Access

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.

Black River County Park Trail Reviews

Reserved for pedestrians

"Since bicycles are prohibited from all sections of the Black River County Park trail system, I decided to experience this trail by walking the one-mile trail segment from historic Cooper Mill to Chubb Park (both located on Route 513 in Chester).

Cooper Mill’s Visitors Center is equipped with excellent public parking, restroom facilities, and many historical interpretation markers. The trail to Chubb Park begins here at a tunnel that safely carries pedestrians under busy Route 513, and heads northeast towards US Route 206.

Trail surface conditions were very rocky and uneven in some spots, but in others quite typical of what you’d expect to find on a rail trail (flat and obstacle-free). The scenery along this short stretch was very pleasing; views of the Black River, some heavily wooded areas, the backs of expensive homes, and a well maintained recreational field complex.

The majority of Black River County Park lies south of Route 513. The former railroad right-of-way incorporated into the trail system here is located adjacent to Cooper Mill and heads south for about one mile. I walked for a few hundred feet on this stretch and noted that the surface was flat and dry, but unfortunately lined with many tree roots and rocks.

I would highly recommend this trail to sure-footed hikers/walkers seeking a location that offers a history lesson as well as a nice place to get some exercise."

A Patriots' Path section

" This trail is part of the Morris County Patriots' Path System. It runs near the Black River from the Cooper Mill on Rte 24 and after a mile rurns left, uphill to the Kay Environmental Center. The trail is short, but pleasant. The added incentives to visit this trail are the Cooper Mill and Fay Environmental Center.
The Cooper Mill, an operating gristmill, is open to the public. Visitors may observe stone grinding of whole wheat flour and corn meal.
The Kay Environmental Center is open 7 days a week in the summer (July and August) and weekdays the rest of the year. In the summer staff naturalists offer tours, and other programs. Self-guided walking tours are always available.
The trails that lead south of the turn up to the Kay Center are only open by permit from the Morris County Park Police. This is a wildlife management area. The section between the wildlife management area and Hacklebarney (a norrow stretch) is private property.
Plan a trip to visit both the Mill and the Kay and enjoy, the walk/ride between them!

(Note: The Patriots' Path now continues north of Cooper Mill along the river to Rte 206, with a branch up to Chubb Park).

Rates a 7 out of 10!


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