Morris Canal Greenway — 23 June 2013


  • Map: NYNJTC, Jersey Highlands Trails, Map 126
  • Trails: Morris Canal Greenway (Yellow), Highlands (Blue-ish)
  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance:  2 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Exertion: Non-existent

Getting There

Find your way to I80 west of I287.  Take Exit 25, Rte 206N, and pretty quickly exit on the right, following the signs for Waterloo Village.  Keep following the signs as you go along Continental Drive.  When that ends, make the left onto Cty Rte. 604, and look for the signs to the aforementioned village.  You will likely miss it, and if you’re like me, won’t be able to figure out where to park once you get in there.  So I advise you to park about 50 yards up the road on the right–there is a little gravel entrance leading to a large parking area for the Highlands Trail.

The Hike

OK, so full disclosure: not a lot of hiking recently.  Many of the winter weekends were spent skiing, and then I had to deal with a knee injury that as of yet may require surgery.  I’ve been walking all along, but sometimes with pain, and sometimes not able to maintain my usual pace.  Last few weekends as the weather has gotten hotter, I’ve been more inclined to get out, chores permitting.  Last week was Harriman, which I hope to post later (it’s probably going to be longer than this screed).  This weekend I decided to invest in some driving and tried to hit this Morris Canal Greenway thing smack in the middle of Jersey.  Long story short: it was a bad hike.  Several reasons:

  • I selected perhaps the least appealing part of the Greenway to walk.
  • Bugs–lotsa bugs.
  • Not a lot of trail maintenance going on in Warren & Sussex Ctys, NJ by my reckoning.
  • Not a lot of blazes, esp. for the Greenway.
  • Did I mention bugs?

So Waterloo Village…  On the map it says “restored,” which indeed it seems to have been, and quite nicely:

Waterloo Village (restored)

There’s also an attractive church, if you’re into that kind of thing.  My beef with this is that the sign at the entrance to the park said ” no unauthorized vehicles–church service.”  Indeed this was a Sunday, but it was 2:30PM, and after parking across the street and walking into the Village, I soon realized there was not a soul in the place.  Completely deserted:

Waterloo Village Church

In front of the church was a stream, which to my best guess was remnants of the Morris Canal.  It was hard to tell, as there were no signs about, and the distinctive blazes I was expecting were nowhere to be found.  I headed west into the brush, thinking that I was probably close to the right track.

Where Is This Greenway?

Eventually, you run into the light blue diamond blazes of the Highlands Trail, which the latest edition of the NYNJTC map says is supposed to be running alongside Rte. 604 at this point, but clearly it is not.  As both the Highlands and the Greenway trails eventually conjoin, it was not much of leap of faith to figure I was doing OK by following the blue diamonds.  Eventually, I did see one of the yellow octagons above, but they are a bit scarce.  The Highlands Trail is blazed much better, so if pretended I was hiking that.

OK, so the Greenway…  Yea, it’s green, and there’s some water, although in most places it’s a pretty stagnant backwash.  The underbrush keeps you from seeing the main stream while you walk on a muddy towpath and deal with the denizens of the stagnant water–mosquitos and plenty of them.  Walking in the “green” part of the Greenway is so abysmal that you actually appreciate the couple of times it veers out of the woods onto 604 for a few yards.

By about an hour in, and little more than a mile an a half, after all my meandering about Waterloo Village, I’d had it.  I turned around back out to 604 after yet another plunge into the infested woods, and started to walk back to the parking area.  I had a great idea to try to pick up a hiking trail, Waterloo South, on the opposite side of the road, and take it to its partner, Waterloo North, which would deposit me back on 604 closer to my destination, but 1 minute in I was greeted by this thrilling blowdown:

Waterloo South Trail? I Think Not!

Four downed trees within 20 yards did not bode well.  Likely due to Hurricane Sandy which was, oh 8 months ago.  Not much in the way of trail maintenance going on in Warren County these days, huh?  Rather than wrestle with this nonsense (which would really piss off my bad knee), not to mention the omnipresent bug swarm, I returned to 604 to hump back to my car.

I wish to cast no aspersions on the Morris Canal Greenway, Warren County, or any part of NJ, but this was not a good hike by any measure.  Probably mostly bad luck on my part, and there are probably much nicer spots on the canal.  Perhaps I will revisit when the mosquitoes are gone.  Sadly, the best picture of the day comes from a rest area on I80:

Scenic Overlook, I80, Near Exit 19

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