One of the favorite spots of our founder, Virginia (@buewho), this trail loop and special place is a cool one to check out. Nestled in the back of the woods along a peaceful river you will come across a unique spot of what was once a mill along the Black River in Chester, New Jersey. This is our #NJspots guide for finding the rock ruins off the Black River Trail in Chester, NJ.
While there isn’t too much history to offer about this particular spot, the restored Cooper Gristmill less than 2 miles up stream, was built in 1826 and was once a source to ground a wide variety of grains into flour. We can only assume, that this rock ruin formation was similar and part of that very system of production during the 18th and 19th centuries.
How To Get There
Many assume that this spot is located in the adjacent Hacklebarney State Park, however it is located in the Black River Park instead and just north of the park boundaries. Accessible via Route 24 in Chester, you can access the parking area for hiking to this spot across the street from the Old Mill Tavern. Once you park there, you can begin hiking south on the Black River Trail.
There is an option to hike a loop around the park which is about 6.5 miles, or you can simply hike to the rock ruins and waterfall and expect a 4 mile out and back trek. Be sure to wear proper footwear for hiking, as there are some rocks and roots along the trail. It is a good idea to also bring some water and maybe a snack in case you want to sit at one of the many waterfall spots for a peaceful break.
Once you begin south on the trail, you are going to see “Patriot’s Path” trail blazes (markers) on the trees. They are blue and white in color. Continue to walking south for about 1.5 miles and you will come across a fork in the trail.
Where Are The Rock Ruins?
You’ll want to continue to the right on the green trail. Shortly after that you will come to a 4-way trail intersection. The orange trail leads down the hill to the right closer to the river or you can continue straight across on the green trail.
Either way can be taken, as they eventually meet together near the river. As you begin to hike closer to the ruins you will notice the trail is a bit more narrow, so watch your step. At about the 1.95 mile mark you will come across the constant sound of gushing water. That’s when you can turn to the right and see the waterfall trickling down from the stone structure.
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A little over a year ago I found a photo by @jimmykastner while searching through the #NJspots tag and came across a majestic scene. It was a river with a small waterfall and an old stone building next to it. The scene was encompassed by the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, of the Autumn season. Since I shared that photo with the @njspots community, I have been wanting to visit it. I finally figured out how to navigate the Black River Trail in Chester, NJ to get there. While I was walking back to my car after visiting this place today, I ran into someone with camera gear on and asked if he was going to the spot too. He was and it just so happened that it was Jimmy! What a small world. Thanks to Jimmy for the inspiration and for @instagram for a platform for those connections to happen. #NJspots 📷 Nikon D5500; 10mm 📲 Uploaded with @gnarbox 🎨 Edited with @enlightphotofox
If you feel that you want to simply go home after seeing the rock ruins, you can turn around and go back the way you came. Or you can continue on the path and extend your hike to over 6 miles. It would be wise to know your plan ahead of time to accommodate for daylight, water, and snacks.