Beaver Brook Trail, featuring some of the most unusual sights in New Jersey, will make you work hard to enjoy them. Long and tiring ascents and descents, dangerous footing and a narrow trail will be in your way to enjoy some of the best shy wildlife sightings in the area.
Soon, the trail starts picking up ground, fast transforming your kike into a full-scale ascent. This part of the trail consists mainly of dirt, and the hike is easier than, let's say, a comparable climb up Mount Tammany. As the forest opens to your left to a rocky ravine, follow carefully for the white blazes. At one point, the trail veers to the right, in a rocky climb, while the obvious trail (unmarked from now on) goes straight. The turn is indicated by a sign on a large boulder, where the white blazes lack in contrast. It is very easy to follow the wrong trail here, so as soon as you loose the white blazes, go back. The unmarked trail ends within a mile at a "No Trespassing" sign, at a woods road that you will cross two more times.
As you climb up the rocks, be careful. Many of these rocks are loose, and the trail is very narrow. Fortunately, this is a very short section, and soon you will find yourself on the top of the hill, on the usual (for New Jersey) flat bedrock. At several places, you will be able to spy a decent view to the east, but the views are inferior to those you can see elsewhere. As you continue, the trail will level off, reenter the forest and then start a long descent.
As the trail descends, you will find your way to a wide streambed. During my last hike, it was dry, despite two days of rain (it was still raining), which leads me to assume that the crossing here is quite easy at any time of the year. The ascent that follows isn't that easy, however. Mimicking the previous ascent, you start out on a dirt trail, only to switch to rock on the last leg, until you find yourself on the top of the Valley View Lookout. This offers probably the best view of the hike, yet not as impressive as other views. However, the large flat rock allows for some resting here.
As you go on, the trail descends a little, then levels off in a forest, with thick undergrowth. The trail is not too obvious here, so watch the blazes. Soon, the trail crosses a woods road, and the forest opens a little. In another ten minutes or so, you will arrive to the Beaver Brook. The trail turns slightly left, and runs parallel to the brook. Between the trees, you will be able to see that the brook is in fact a large swampy area, courtesy of numerous beaver dams. You will be able to spy a few beaver lodges, but as beavers are nocturne animals, you won't see them. Probably the best place to observe the beaver habitat (and most likely the main reason for your hike) is a little farther, where you cross the woods road again. Go down that road, which soon crosses the Beaver Brook. This crossing offers a nice and unobstructed view.
Backtrack your steps and continue on the trail. Soon, it will cross the brook as well, and approach the Lost Lake. Due to the recent rains, I found this crossing to be too difficult and turned back here. According to Scherer's book, there should be a bridge here, which I found missing, and the lake is supposed to feature a few more beaver lodges.
© Jozef Purdes, 2002