Thanks to a remarkable coalition of citizens groups, conservation organizations, corporations and government agencies, the general public is welcome to enjoy access to the spectacular wilderness known as Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area. Located within the Borough of Kinnelon and Montville Township more than 1,500 acres of rugged trails, fields, cliffs, and waterfalls provide the visitor with unusual geological and ecological experiences.
Along the Mennen Trail, one of five trails clearly marked with color-coded blazes, hikers will discover special points of interest, such as the Overlook that has a magnificent view of the New York skyline. As you walk along, on the ancient bedrock that forms this trail, you will come upon a unique glacial erratic, known as Tripod Rock. It was deposited here by the Wisconsin Glacier over 18,000 years ago. This famous, 160 ton (est.) boulder is delicately balanced on three smaller boulders. It is believed to have been of spiritual significance to the Lenape Indians. Adjacent rocks may have been utilized astronomically to determine the time of summer solstice, necessary to gathering medicinal “food”, and other useful plants. The area is noted for over 400 species of native wildflowers and plants that it harbors, providing a genetic bank for future generations.
The Pyramid Mountain area and Valley of the Stony Brook provided shelter and was used as a hunting, fishing and gathering area, for over ten thousand years, by Native Americans. As you walk by Bear Rock, the largest glacial erratic in the State, look for the scratches that remind us of Indian folklore of the Great-Naked-Bear, and let their conservation ethic inspire your thoughts and guide your actions.
The Lenape or Munsee Indians were followed by Dutch settlers who reaped a meager living from the area by farming, mining and charcoaling.
Nearby are the remnants of the Morgan farmhouse, home for the infamous Tar Rope Gang, who were notorious for “borrowing” supplies from the local merchants and were eventually forced into hiding.
Cherished by naturalists, Pyramid Mountain is also known as a significant wildlife sanctuary. More than 100 species of birds and 30 species of mammals have been sighted in the area. Cat Rocks and Big Cat Swamp are named for the bobcat who lives within the caves and shallow depressions of this region. You may spot bear or beaver, an eagle soaring above, or see osprey, herons, and egrets fishing in the reservoir.
As you meander through Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, enjoy the beauty of chestnut oak, mountain laurel, cardinal flower and other native flora. In your sojourn with nature you may catch a glimpse of a Scarlet Tanager, or a Yellow Warbler, who are summer visitors, along with the Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers and Black-capped Chickadee, who are year round residents.
On future visits you may wish to join a guided trail walk offered at the visitors center. You may call 973-334-3130 for information.
The Daily Record description of this extraordinary area, both Pyramid Mountain and the immediately adjacent Turkey Mountain was contained in its series “25 Great Walks in Morris County.”
How to get there
From Mountain Lakes, enter Boonton on Main Street. Turn north (left) at the traffic light onto Boonton Avenue (Route 511). Proceed 3.3 miles on Boonton Avenue. The visitors center is on the left with a small parking lot.