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sk8sn0surf
02-25-2011, 01:12
Hello,

I'm new to the forum and new to backpacking, and I was hoping I could get some feedback from some more experienced hikers on a trip I am planning.

I'm planning on doing my first overnight backpacking trip on the Appalachian trail in New Jersey with 2 other guys in early April. Currently we are planning on doing a 3 day (Fri, Sat, Sun) hike, from NJ 519 to Blue Mountain Lakes road. We will start Friday afternoon and hike about ~5.5 miles from NJ 519 to the Rutherford shelter. The second day we will be hiking about 15 miles from the Rutherford shelter to the Brink Road shelter, then about 6.75 miles on the third day to the Blue Mountain Road parking lot.

We are all relatively in shape and I am wondering if this distance is reasonable for beginner backpackers with outdoors/hiking experience?

Anyone familiar with the area, please comment on the difficulty of the terrain, the scenery, and any other experiences you'd like to share.

Would you suggest any other areas nearby?

Thanks in advance,
Chris

Chubbs4U
02-25-2011, 01:16
Hey Chris. Im in the same boat as you. Curious as to what people answer. Im also in the area so let us know how it went or goes.

perrito
02-25-2011, 08:34
:welcome

Keep in mind that the Rutherford shelter is close to mile off the AT, down hill if I remember correctly. The Mashipacong shelter 3 miles further on is right on the trail but has no water source. You could hide a water cache near Deckertown Tpk. though. That would shorten your 2nd day nicely too. If you could get out an hour or so earlier, this would be something to consider.
The Brink Road shelter has an excellent stream behind it.
The terrain is not too bad. Your biggest down/up is crossing Rt. 206 in Culver's Gap.
Have fun!

Cookerhiker
02-25-2011, 09:45
I think you can too. Of course the question is the 15+ miles on your one full day but NJ is not real difficult and you say you're in decent shape. Expect some sore muscles when you get up your last morning.

The Brink Road shelter is also off the trail - about 1/4 mile and I remember it being very dark. But you're hiking in early Spring before the leaves are out.

Scenery - you'll have some nice views from the ridgeline especially with the trees denuded of their foliage. I've even seen views in summer.

And just south of Culvers Gap on a day hike in '07, we saw this one:

sk8sn0surf
02-25-2011, 11:09
Thanks for the replies guys. I'm glad to hear the distance isn't too outrageous for our first trip.

I have accounted for the shelters being off-trail in my route, but I forgot to ask, how will the trails to the shelters be marked?

Also, are there are waterfalls or any other natural wonders along my route? I know I can hike to Buttermilk falls from a trail near Crater Lake, right before BML road, but this would add about 4.5 miles to the last day. I'm hoping there might be something more along my route, but if not, Buttermilk Falls might be a good way to wrap up the entire trip.

Thanks
Chris

dragoro
02-25-2011, 12:12
Down south the side trails and trails to shelters are marked with blue paint instead of white. Not sure if it's the same up there.

tdoczi
02-25-2011, 12:31
Also, are there are waterfalls or any other natural wonders along my route? I know I can hike to Buttermilk falls from a trail near Crater Lake, right before BML road, but this would add about 4.5 miles to the last day. I'm hoping there might be something more along my route, but if not, Buttermilk Falls might be a good way to wrap up the entire trip.

Thanks
Chris

if you do go down to buttermilk falls and back up that will easily be the hardest part of the trip. if you do go down there walk up the road a bit and look for the trail to hidden falls, which is hard to find but cool. it may not be on the AT maps but its on the NYNJTC kittatinny maps.

if youre willing to follow your basic route but off of the AT look into making tillman ravine part of your hike. also in that area but down the ridge a bit from the AT. you could hike down off the ridge on a dirt road (forget the name) then through tillman ravine, along another dirt road past an old cemetery, hit hidden falls and buttermilk falls and then back up the ridge to the AT. takes you off the AT and puts in some walking on dirt roads but brings you right by 3 natural points of interest.

theres also another ravine the name of which escapes me around there, but its farther off trail and part of a very developed local park.

Monkeywrench
02-25-2011, 17:59
If you've not backpacked before, I would probably plan a shorter day than 15 miles. 10 or 12 miles is plenty to get a feel for what hiking all day is like, and to let you experience a bit of suffering from tender feet and a heavy pack.

I don't remember the trail in NJ all that well, except for the Pochuck(sp?) Boardwalk, which I walked early on a sparkling 4th of July morning.

Leanthree
02-25-2011, 18:27
If you've not backpacked before, I would probably plan a shorter day than 15 miles. 10 or 12 miles is plenty to get a feel for what hiking all day is like, and to let you experience a bit of suffering from tender feet and a heavy pack.

I took my dad out for the first time in similar terrain. It was the first time he had been backpacking in 25 years and we did 8-10 miles a day and that was a good distance for a 54 year old guy in decently good shape allowing for decent breaks at a couple of historic sites and then enough time in camp for hanging out and enjoying ourselves a bit. (note that I was a bit of his food Sherpa just to keep our walking speeds more similar)

One of the things most new backpackers may underestimate is how long it takes to get breakfast cooked, breakdown camp, get your pack packed and get on your way. So be ready for a learning curve. Everyone goes through it and you will be real proud when on your next trip you get your pack packed in half the time.

Every hiker has a different style: Some like to hike slow all day, some like to hike a short distance fast and hang at camp much of the day, others enjoy side trails, historic sites, waterfalls etc, and 1,000s of other combinations. Give one style a whirl and decide if that is what you like.

sk8sn0surf
02-25-2011, 23:28
Thanks for the advice. I'll see what the other guys think about modifying the route to shorten the distance a bit.