This is a lengthy route without any strenuous sections where the trail passes lovely ponds, viewpoints such as Headley Overlook, an old mining rail bed, and a rarity for northern New Jersey - a pine swamp. Hikers along this relatively easy route also traverse multiple ups and downs, including a few safe ledges and large interesting boulders that were deposited by retreating and advancing glaciers of the ice ages.
Autumn and winter are particularly suited for this park, thought it can certain be enjoyed year round and there are many trails to either shorten or lengthen the route as needed. The park is also a hotbed for mountain bikers - share the trail and be aware.
The hike starts off the back end of the Saffin Pond parking lot on the Highlands Trail Spur at Saffin Pond (Teal with Black Dot)
trail. This is not the most obvious trailhead to find so be sure to take the path to the eastern side of the pond and not the more obvious path on the western side. This short spur takes the most scenic route past the pond.
Soon the spur ends and joins up with the Highlands Trail (Teal). Here, bear right (west), across the bridge, and make a left heading south onto the Yellow Trail
. This section is very flat as it is an old rail bed that was part of the Ogden Oron Ore Mine operation. Soon this rail trail ends and Yellow Trail
passes through a private backyard, alongside Weldon Brook Lake and a pump station.
Continue on this trail across a few streams, a interesting half fallen tree from a beaver (and it's lodge in the far distance), and across low lying wetlands. At around the 5-mile mark, turn right onto the Highlands Trail (Teal) and follow the uphill route to Headley Overlook. This is the most challenging section of the trail but doable for virtually all hikers.
After the overlook, continue on the Highlands Trail (Teal) and across Weldon Road to the north side of the park. Soon the trail crosses into picnic area with a baseball field and joins with White Trail (North)
. At the overall 6.35 mile mark, bear right onto Purple Trail
. This section is particularly pleasant with a ledge view of a valley and follows along side a small stream before joining back up with White Trail (North)
and Highlands Trail (Teal).
At mile 7.9, continue on White Trail (North)
by bearing to the left, leaving the Highlands Trail (Teal) that heads north across Sparta Mountain Road. This section follows past a very rare pine swamp and climbs to the highest elevation in Morris County.
At 9 miles, take the Blue with Red Dot Trail
spur downhill and join with Blue Trail (North)
heading west. Shortly thereafter, make a final left (south) on the Ogden Mine Railroad Trail
(Green) which heads back to the Saffin Pond parking lot after crossing Weldon Road again.
Typical northern NJ hardwood forest with rhododendron, ponds, and streams. Blue heron, turkey, deer, and an occasional bear have been spotted within the park.
Named after the 7th governor of New Jersey, Mahlon Dickerson Reservation trails pass through land that was once part of the Mt. Hope Mining community.