Mahlon Dickerson

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Sean rides The Turtle

General Information

Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, the largest park of the Morris County Park System, encompasses 3,200 acres of near wilderness and recreational areas, with over 20 miles of multi-use trails. One of the Reservation's outstanding features is Headley Overlook, one of the highest points in the Morris County Park System. Along the Pine Swamp trail, the highest point in Morris County, at 1395 feet, can also be found. Mahlon Dickerson was actually the location of the first mountain bike race ever held in New Jersey. After a while, Mahlon dropped into a state of neglect for many years. Currently Mahlon is experiencing a huge resurgence in both trail building and riders enjoying the trails here.

Google Map

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41.007858,-74.586453 Saffin Pond - Right off Weldon Road on the right side, gates open at around 8 AM. Directions /Photo\

40.989405,-74.58868 Rock Rill - Entrance is on a dirt road. Bear left and parking is up on the left. Directions

The GPS Route Fogerson's Hooligan Ride GPS route which covers most of the major features at Mahlon Dickerson. It is missing a few of the more technical trails like Anrothar's Alley and Beaver Brook.

Details and Info

Miles: 7-15, depending on what you want to do. A full tour of all trails will yield you well over 20. A solid loop, as on the map above, is just under 14 miles.
Difficulty: Intermediate, Some Advanced
Trails: Singletrack, Doubletrack, Fire Road, Bridle Trails
Surface Dirt, Gravel, Mixed
Obstacles: Trail Obstacles, Rock Garden, Water Crossing, Technical Trail Features
Detailed Overview: A fair amount of something for everyone. There are enough Fire Roads and sections of technical Singletrack that you can loop together any number of loops, ranging from beginner friendly to advanced. More rocks than logs, this park holds a nice mix of everything for the emerging Intermediate rider.
Park Website: Morris County Parks Mahlon Dickerson Page.

Trails

Trail Name Blaze Distance Description
Cascade None 1 Mile Singletrack - Mostly, non-technical. Riding clockwise, the climbing out consist of longer and shallower climbs. Riding counter clockwise, the descent is super fun and the climb out consists of shorter, yet steeper, climbs.
The Wall Reroute Yellow <0.5 miles Singletrack This section of trail was constructed to replace the original "Wall", which was a washed out fire road. The top of the trail is located near the Headley Overlook, and it consists of moderately technical tight singletrack. After descending, follow the Yellow blazes to bridge and stream crossing and look for the entrance to Stone Gate about 0.5 miles on the left.
Stone Gate Yellow/Black 1.25 miles Singletrack - Stone Gate is split into two parts divided by the highest point on the trail; a rock formation called Stone Gate. One half is smooth and flowing singletrack, the other moderately technical, yet still quite flowing, singletrack. Riding clockwise consists of the smoother part of the trail with a slight ascent followed by the technical descent. Riding counter-clockwise is a fairly big climb to the top.
Ogden Mine Rail Bed Yellow 2 miles Runs along the west side of the park. The fire road is heavily populated with walkers/hikers on a nice day.
Anrothar's Alley Green 0.7 miles Singletrack, Doubletrack - - A very technical section of trail that starts near the bottom of Cascade, through some serious rock garden's surfacing near the northern tip of the park.
Beaver Brook White 1+ miles Singletrack - Another very technical section of trail that starts near the bottom of The Wall and eventually leads out of the park.
Three Stone None <0.5 miles Singletrack - Just north of Weldon Road, a tight loop of single track.
Highland's Trail Teal Highland's trail is a hiking only trail, however it is multi-use where it shares real-estate with other trails.

Routes

Rider: Fogerson
Description: This 14 mile route hits all of the non-Advanced popular features/trails in the "easiest" direction; however, most mortals will be feeling it a bit by the time the loop is done. Detailed route information can be found here: Media:Mahlon_Ride_Route.pdf
Link: Garmin Connect
Files: kml


Rider: Fogerson
Description: This nearly 17 mile loop is the route from Summer 2009's "Great Northern Migration Ride". It is similar to the Hooligan's loop above, but ventures through the Weldon Brook WMA which offers a nice respite from the rock gardens and other fun about 10 miles into the ride, yet follows up with a nice bit of singletrack at the end.
Link: Garmin Connect


Rider: Anrothar
Description: This is my version of the perfect Mahlon loop. It hits ALL the fun trails and all the fun features in an order that makes sense and flows pretty well. There are a few opportunities to get your feet wet. Some of the route does pass through Wildlife Management Areas, so be mindful of regulations there during hunting season. There are some rather technical bits on this loop, so adding the distance to that, I would say that this is not a beginner friendly loop. It can be easily shortened though in several places. Everyone I've taken on this loop has come back with a smile, so I would say it's best intro to the park for those who like their rides to be a bit longer and more technical. Experts moving non-stop should be able to finish the loop in 1.5-2 hrs in good conditions.
Link: Motionbased

Reviews

I hesitate to be the one writing a review for this park but I figure I might as well since I do fit the qualifications. I have ridden here enough to know my way around but really if I'm here every 3 months it's a lot. That keeps the park fresh for me yet it probably prevents me from really putting together some killer loops that might keep me coming back for more. I know where all the famous points are but 1. I know Cascade, Stone Gate, The Wall Reroute, Beaver Brook Trail, and Three Stone as they make up one of the loops I do know how to navigate. I do not know where Anrothar's Alley nor The Turtle are.
I start at Saffin Pond and head out the rail-bed for a good 5 minute warm-up, which isn't enough but does the job. Dive right into some ST and then take the mass of rights on Three Stone, a trail named for something I couldn't imagine. This is a fun/zippy trail that helps get the blood flowing early in the ride. After a little more ST you're in the park roads in what can only be described as a sort of vortex of intersecting Fire Roads that tend to confuse me every time I go. I get it right maybe half the time.
If I get it right it brings me to the top of one of my favorite trails, Cascade. This is a hella fun trail that bombs your down to the stream after a brief overlook which affords you a nice look at the roof of the high school. Then you climb back up the hill you just went down, going up a stone junk park road that is no friend of the biker. I believe if you go right or straight at the base of this hill you will get more ST and possible Anrothar's Alley but I'm uncertain of that. I go left up to the picnic area then cross the road. (If you take Cascade counterclockwise, Anrothar's Alley begins almost directly accross the fire road at the end of Cascade. Instead of going right on the fire road to a small stream crossing or left up a rocky hill, just go *almost* straight accross. It's fairly obvious but unmarked. Gets really technical after a couple of minutes of riding)
Here you have the option of hitting the Highlands Trail to Headley Overlook. This trail is likely off-limits but not even all park employees seem to agree on that. Regardless, it is a small section which brings you up to The Wall Reroute, a fun switchback section which bypasses an abysmally washed out trail that needed to be closed. Do some stream crossing and climbing and you can bang a right and go down a technical section of Beaver Brook Trail back to the bottom of what you just climbed. This is a fun and tough little rocky section that gets most people in one way, shape, or form.
Climbing back up you can then enter Stone Gate, which is a nice long downhill to the bottom of Devil's Staircase. This is yet another of the super fun trails in the park and an absolute must ride. The trail brings you out around the lake back to the pond to complete the circuit.
In all, this is a great mix of a park. It has technical areas but not so much that it kills the lower intermediate rider. It has climbing, but again, not too much. It's got flow, it has easy and hard sections, and is a great park for those looking to work on technical skills as well as advance into a solid intermediate skill level. Your best bet is to go with someone who knows or pull down a GPS loop to guide you. Showing up and hoping is likely not the best bet.
-Norm

Discussion, Events, and JORBA

Forum: MTBNJ discussion on Mahlon Dickerson Reserve
Calendar: MTBNJ events or JORBA events
JORBA Info: JORBA Morris County Parks Page
JORBA Contact: Steve

Bike Shop(s) and Good Eats

Cyclecraft
Jefferson Diner
5 Bowling Green Parkway
Suite 7
Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849

Maps

Videos

Video Trail Review by MannyL358

Pictures