Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tillman Ravine, Buttermilk Falls and Rattlesnake Mountain

Lindsay at the bottom of Buttermilk Falls, minutes before we embarked on 2 miles of an intense uphill hike.
When:Saturday, August 28th, from 8am until 1pm
Where:Tillman Ravine, Buttermilk Falls and Rattlesnake Mountain. Sussex County.
What:A really spectacular hike
Weather:Perfection. Cool misty morning followed by a warm afternoon. High in the mid-80's.

After a busy couple of months, Lindsay and I finally got to spend some quality time together.

It's truly wonderful, that after more than two years, we still love each other's company and still have a ton of fun together.

So, we started off much like we started off awhile back: with a couple of backpacks, a lot of water and a camera. We had heard about Buttermilk Falls and intended to hike there a few times, but it wasn't until this past weekend that we finally got around to it. Seeing as we're both exercising and eating well these days, we tried to find a route that included the falls and a bit of a workout as well.

We found one.

Although this was an amazing hike, I have to point out that we did not utilize the NY/NJ Trail Conference website for our outline. The directions we found online were by no means reliable, so I will not include a link out of fear of getting someone lost or exhausted at the bottom of one of three mountains near the end of the trip.

What I will tell you is that we started off at the parking area for Tillman Ravine. It's right off 206 North, fairly close to the entrance to Stokes State Park. We then hiked about a mile down the Ravine to a gravel road, which after another two miles, brought us to Buttermilk Falls. After two more miles of some of the most strenous uphill hiking I've done, we reached the Appalachian Trail.

The walk on the Appalachian Trail was just shy of five miles. During this stretch, the AT took us over Rattlesnake Mountain, Bird Mountain and Blue Mountain. We spotted a bear, deer, vultures and plenty of frogs. It was also during this stretch that I heard the elusive Timber Rattlesnake moving through the brush, however, my attempt to find it failed. I probably could have uncovered it with a little more bushwacking, but that also could have gotten me bit. Lindsay wasn't too upset at me giving up, and we continued our journey.

Three mountains and a serious workout later, we were headed downhill once again, and this time for good. Another short stretch on a gravel path took us back to the road, the parking area and the truck.

The farm stands on the way home and the Denville Seafood Market completed another perfect day.

This is truly one of the most of the most spectacular areas of New Jersey. As far as pristine wilderness and wildlife, not many places in the Garden State compare to these highlands. I would strongly suggest this hike to anyone. However, I would go on to define "anyone" as "experienced hikers in decent physical condition, possessing a bit common sense and a reliable set of directions."

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