Know the New Hiking How-tos
Turkey Mountain Loop #2
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 South to Exit 47 (Montville, Lincoln Park), and turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto Main Road (U.S. Route 202). Continue on Main Road as the road makes two sharp turns – first to the left, then to the right. In 0.6 mile, just before reaching a fire station, turn right onto Taylortown Road. Continue on Taylortown Road for 1.8 miles until it ends at Boonton Avenue (County Route 511). Turn right onto Boonton Avenue and continue for 0.7 mile to the entrance to the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, on the left side of the road, opposite the Mars Park Corporate Center.
Although best known for Pyramid Mountain and Tripod Rock, on the west side of Boonton Avenue, the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area also includes Turkey Mountain, on the east side of the road. This hike explores the lesser-used Turkey Mountain area.
At the southern end of the parking area, you’ll notice a triple yellow blaze, which marks the start of the Yellow Trail. Follow this trail south, parallel to Boonton Avenue, for a short distance, then turn left and cross the road at a designated crosswalk. The trail continues along a level, graveled-surfaced road, passing the Mars Park to the left. Soon, the Yellow Trail reaches a junction with the Red Dot Trail, which leaves to the right., but continue ahead on the Yellow Trail.
In another third of a mile, the Blue Trail crosses. Continue to follow the Yellow Trail, which now becomes rougher and narrower and begins to descend. In about half a mile, the Yellow Trail turns right onto a footpath and passes the start of the White Trail. Soon, you'll reach the base of the descent, where the Yellow Trail joins another woods road. About 400 feet after crossing a footbridge over a stream, the trail turns right, leaving the woods road, and continues on a footpath.
The trail now climbs to the rim of a deep ravine. This depression was created by a quarry that operated here in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The quarried rock was transported to the nearby Lake Valhalla (where it was crushed) via the Horse Shoe Trail, which is followed in part by today’s Yellow Trail. The crushed rock was then taken to Boonton, where it was used to remove impurities from the iron ore that was smelted there. Although commonly referred to as “limestone,” the rock found in this area is more correctly known as dolomitic marble.
At the end of the quarry, the Red Trail leaves to the left. Just beyond, the Yellow Trail turns sharply right and descends to a woods road (the northern end of the Horseshoe Trail). It turns left onto the woods road, but soon turns right, leaving the road, and crosses a stream in a wet area. Follow the Yellow Trail as it now begins to climb, passing some more quarry pits and ravines along the way. Soon, the trail emerges onto a clearing and crosses under a power line.
About 1.8 miles from the start of the hike, you’ll come to another T-intersection. Here, the Yellow Trail turns right and crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, but you should turn left, now following the Green Trail. To your right, there is an attractive waterfall in wet seasons (the waterfall is dry during periods of sparse precipitation).
Continue ahead (north) on the Green Trail, which climbs briefly, descends to cross a small stream, then resumes a steady ascent. After reaching the crest of the rise, it descends gently on an old woods road.
The Green Trail ends at a junction with the Yellow Trail, marked with a cairn. Turn left onto the Yellow Trail, which climbs Turkey Mountain on an old woods road, passing through gaps in several stone walls on the way.
Continue along the Yellow Trail until it ends in a stand of cedar trees on the summit ridge of Turkey Mountain. A large rock outcrop to the left of the trail offers east-facing views when there are no leaves on the trees, but even when the view is obstructed by foliage, the rock outcrop provides a nice place to take a break (be careful not to touch the poison ivy that grows along a portion of the outcrop!).
When you’re ready to continue, turn right onto the Red Trail and continue along the flat summit ridge of the mountain. Soon, you’ll reach the true summit (892 feet) at a stone wall. Here, the trail turns left and begins to descend.
After a brief level section, the Red Trail climbs slightly to a secondary summit of Turkey Mountain, where it ends. Turn right, and in 50 feet, you'll reach a junction with the Blue Trail. Turn left onto this trail, which descends through the woods to a T-intersection. Here, the blue trail turns right, but you should turn left onto the Green Trail. The Green Trail soon bears right and reaches a panoramic south-facing viewpoint over Lake Valhalla. You’ll want to pause here to rest and enjoy the outstanding view.
After taking in the view, return to the junction with the BlueTrail. Turn left and follow the Blue Trail, which descends steadily on a footpath and soon joins a woods road. After leveling off, the trail follows a wooden boardwalk over a wet area, then reaches a junction with the Yellow Trail.
Turn right onto the Yellow Trail, retracing your steps on a level, gravel-surfaced woods road for half a mile back to Boonton Avenue. Cross the road and continue to the Visitors Center and the parking area where the hike began.