Black River Rock Ruins & Waterfall – Abandoned Cottage


One of the favorite spots of our founder, Virginia (@buewho), this trail loop and unique 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 of an abandoned cottage (Kay’s Cottage) next to 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.

Helpful Link: Black River Trail Loop on

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 some rocks and roots are along the trail. It is a good idea also to 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 will 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.

Abandoned Northern New Jersey
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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 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.

If you want to go home after seeing the rock ruins, you can turn around and return 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.

Be sure to tag us on Instagram and use the #NJspots hashtag! Find your favorite NJspots and places to visit, photograph, and explore through our Waterfalls & Lookout Spots Map.

Other Abandoned Spots…

2 Responses

  1. I hiked to this site in early December, which, BTW, can also be accessed from the east side of the park at the Kay Environmental Center. Shorter hike by distance, but much more elevation change.

    Anyhow, the site is actually the ruins of a riverside cottage called Kay’s Cottage. The Kay family’s main house is now the site of the Environmental Center, but this cottage must have been a lovely spot to spend time along the river side listening to the symphony of nature playing along.

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