Mount Rose Ridge

Mount Rose Ridge

Watershed Institute
%Elks Preserve, 151-181 Crusher Rd, Hopewell, NJ 08525
Open Daily, Dawn to Dusk Mid-February through November
(Open Sundays only during deer hunting season using firearms, early Dec to Mid Feb)

(609) 737-3735   Website    Google Maps     Trail Map GeoPDF

Gravitas:   Challenge:    Proximity:

Special notes for parents
If your kids like steep little climbs, this may be the hike for them. The northernmost section of the Watershed Preserve Trail just sneaks into the Sourlands, onto the Mount Rose Ridge (aka Princeton Ridge and Rocky Point Ridge). If you park at the Elks Preserve on Crusher Rd, the full hike is around two miles (depending on how far you continue towards Hopewell). There are some climb-able boulders and partial views. The unblazed return loop is nice, but difficult to follow in spots. The main Watershed Trail is easy to follow and almost as fun. It’s like having a little section of the Sourlands Mountain Preserve all to yourself (most of the time).
Looking down from the ridge-top (it’s steeper than it looks) with partial views of the valley in the distance.

Ridge of Solitude

On its own, this is a charming, fairly steep little climb of about 120′ vertical elevation up and over the southernmost ridge in the Sourlands. It is the northernmost section of the Watershed Preserve’s main trail, but except for the clear blazing and signage, bears almost no resemblance to the rest of it.

Where the southern 4 miles of the Watershed trail are virtually flat, and often soggy, this trail is steep and rocky. The trees are mostly magnificent Tulip Poplars and Black Birch. And where the Watershed trails near the Institute (more than 2 miles south) get a lot of use from family and education groups, this section of the trail is normally deserted. It’s almost like a private section of the Sourlands Mountain Preserve, which deservedly gets a lot of use.

Most people will want to start this trail from the Elks Preserve parking lot, a FoHVOS preserve which is immediately adjacent and connects to the Watershed trail system just south of Crusher Rd. If you take the most direct route through Elks Preserve, complete the ridge loop (including unblazed section), and return the same way, this hike is about 2.25 miles. You can extend it by continuing down towards Hopewell (which will add 4/10 mile round trip). It gives slightly better partial views, but frustratingly the view never really opens up (brush and a fence keep you from breaking out to a full view) . Other extension options are to take a more circuitous return loop in the Elks Preserve, or to explore more of the Watershed trail system. Personally, I think this Mt. Rose trail is just a lovely, short, intense little hike that doesn’t need extending, but that’s up to you.

We rate this trail Intermediate for two reasons: 1) the descent down the far side of the ridge is fairly steep, with tricky footing at times, and 2) because the unblazed loop trail is difficult to follow in places. For sure, download the GeoPDF hiking map for the Watershed Preserve, and install it with Avenza Maps if you intend to walk the unblazed section. You’ll find it very helpful.

Do you see where the trail is? This section of the unblazed return loop is admittedly one of the more difficult sections to recognize, but if the prospect of puzzling it out makes you nervous, stick to the main trail which is very clear and well blazed.

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