On Sunday, May 26th, a small group of scouts from our troop headed to Stokes State Forest in Sussex County, New Jersey for an overnight tent camping experience.
Stokes State Forest was created in 1907 when Governor Edward Stokes donated 500 acres of land on Kittatinny Mountain and the State of New Jersey purchased 5,432 acres of land…through the years, additional purchases were made to bring the forest to over 16,000 acres. Trails though the forest were made in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps…The Big Flat Brook is a shallow stream which starts in the mountain swamp of Steam Mill and travels in a southwesterly direction. It empties into the Delaware River near Flatbrookville. This stream is stocked by the New Jersey Fish and Game with rainbow trout and brown trout. This stream is considered one of the premier fishing streams in the state of New Jersey. In the 1880s, John Snook dug a mine and extracted silver ore. He was paid well for the ore and the silver quickly ran out. This mine, which is filled with water today, is not far from the Kittle Field picnic area or about a mile and a half north of the forest office.
Sunrise Mountain is part of the Kittatinny Mountain which goes from the New York State Line to Delaware Water Gap…The mountain is the second highest point in New Jersey, being 1,653 feet (504 m) above sea level…Much of Sussex County can be seen from the summit of the mountain. From the eastern side of the mountain, one can view the Kittatinny Valley and the Highlands. From the western side, the Delaware Valley and the Port Jervis trough can be seen. From the top of Sunrise Mountain you can see three states, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Appalachian Trail follows the top of the entire Kittatinny Mountain.
Tillman Ravine Natural Area is a 525 acres (212 ha) section of coniferous and deciduous forest surrounding Tillman Brook. Tillman brook starts as a spring, which flows year round. An old-growth forest of 25 acres (10 ha) containing Eastern Hemlock and hardwoods follows part of the ravine. Several trails run through this area, providing views of waterfalls, pools, and rock formations. Tillman Ravine is a habitat for the Barred Owl and other endangered species.
With so many interesting features, attractions, and trails, this seemed like an ideal place for a quick getaway. Despite a snafu with the reservation of a group camping site (which was quickly handled by the professional staff) we had a wonderful trip.
First, we swept out our tent platform and had the boys set up their tents. Once we had camp “in gear” we could focus on details like dinner.
Next, the boys worked on building a beef stew from scratch in our new aluminum dutch oven. With broth from bullion cubes and water, the steak was tasty. Although dinner rolls were available, everyone was focused on the hot, fresh, stew brewing for the team.
Following dinner, the boys played catch with frisbees and footballs — it was a fun, relaxing evening for everyone.
In the morning, the boys prepared breakfast and after breaking camp and cleaning up the site, we built and packed our sandwiches that we’d be taking on the trail that day. We also packed fresh fruit, dried fruit and different varieties of trail mix to crunch along the way.
Our first trail followed a creek with a series of stepped waterfalls — it was called “Stepping Stone Falls Trail” and isn’t published on the official state park map. This oversight is really too bad since many visitors to the park may not even know of this trail’s existence, but the trail has lovely settings and features.
Next, we took the Blue Mountain trail to connect to the extreme end of the Silver Mine Trail. This trail proved to be a difficult uphill climb over rocky switchbacks that changed direction repeatedly. When we arrived at the remains of an ore crushing mill, we were able to follow the abandoned railroad right of way back to the Stepping Stone Falls Trail.
We had lunch next to the main waterfall and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine before heading back to the cars.
Following a circuit of roads around the edge of the forest, we re-joined route 206 South and headed to Dairy Queen for a frozen treat before heading home.
Highs from the trip — relaxing, fun and good trails. Lows from the trip — lots of ticks, armies of ticks in fact! Additional photos are available at our family photo share site with the appropriate sign in credentials.