ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The following hikes in South Mountain Reservation are sponsored by the South Mountain Conservancy and are free and open to all, including children, ages 10 and older with their families. You do not need to register; just be at the starting point about 10 minutes ahead of time so the hike can start promptly. Times for the durations of the hikes are best estimates, but can vary depending on conditions, and the size and pace of a group. If you have any questions, call the leader. Steady rain cancels the hike, but intermittent drizzle does not.
Bring water and wear good walking shoes. For directions to starting locations, go to www.somocon.org/about-the-reservation. Note: Dogs are not allowed.
• Saturday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. to noon., Unusual entrances to the Park, No. 5: Old Hollow Road, Millburn. The group will enter the park from Old Hollow Road in Millburn, which the Olmsteds in 1902 planned on being the main Millburn entry to the park. Long pants are a necessity. The group will leave the woods at Hawk Hill in the reservation and pick up the Elmdale Trail. After following it for a while, the group will circle around and return to their cars through Old Short Hills Park. Meet at Old Short Hills Park, 274 Old Short Hills Road, Millburn. The entrance to OSHP is on the right-hand side of the road through a stone gateway 1.3 miles north of the railroad bridge on Old Short Hills Road near the center of Millburn. Leader: Dave Hogenauer, 973-901-0824.
• Friday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Hemlock Falls from a different direction. Meet at Dogwood Hill on Brookside Drive. The group will walk from Dogwood Hill along the Rahway River to Hemlock Falls and then circle around the falls and return. About 4 miles at a moderate pace. Dogwood Hill is 1.0 miles north of the light on Glen Avenue and Brookside Drive in Millburn on the left side of the road, or 0.6 miles south of the light at South Orange Avenue on the right side of the road. Leader: Bijoy Mechery, 908-487-8482.
• Sunday, Nov. 29, 10 a.m. to noon, Oakdale loop. This is a stroll of about 3 miles at a moderate pace with only one moderate uphill section. Meet at Oakdale Picnic Grove off Cherry Lane, about 0.3 miles south of the light on Northfield Avenue, or 1 mile north of the light on South Orange Avenue, also known as the paddle-boat parking area. Leader: Lou Nocito, 973-953-7099.
• Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Mayapple Hill. The group will hike about 4 miles on the new trails of Mayapple Hill at a moderate pace. These include the extension of the Lenape Trail north of Mayapple Hill, the Lenape Bow and the Mayapple Circular. Meet at Mayapple Hill parking area, reached via a road that goes off Northfield Avenue 0.1 miles west of the light on the corner of Northfield and Pleasant Valley Way. Leader: Bijoy Mechery, 908-487-8482.
• Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Border Patrol. The group will follow the border of South Mountain Reservation as closely as trails and woods roads allow, circling around the entire reservation, except for Mayapple Hill. In the process, the group will pass by Turtle Back Rock, the zoo and reservoir, Old Short Hills Park and Locust Grove, walking on paved paths, sidewalks, old woods roads, trails, and abandoned woods roads from the 1800s. About 9 to 10 miles in length, taken mostly at a fast pace, except when hiking up the few steep hills. Bring a lunch. Meet at Bramhall Terrace on Crest Drive, 0.3 miles in from South Orange Avenue. Bramhall Terrace is the lookout over New York City and is a long, narrow parking area along Crest Drive. Follow signs for the dog park/wildflower- forest preserve and you will come to the meeting spot before you come to either of those destinations. Leader: Dave Hogenauer, 973-901-0824.
• Sunday, Dec. 20, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Great Circle. A hike from Locust Grove along the Lenape Trail with a break at Hemlock Falls and return along the Rahway River. Bring a snack. 5 to 6 miles with some uphill sections. Meet at Locust Grove, opposite the First Aid Station on Glen Avenue in Millburn. Leader: Lou Nocito, 973-953-7099. Note: If there is snow on the ground, call the hike leader before going to the starting point.