Kanouse Mountain in West Milford has some of the best views in NJ, with a steep drop that reveals a reservoir and rolling mountains to the southwest, and an unforgettable 29-mile view of the New York City skyline over green hills to the southeast. I haven’t found a trail guide for this .5 mile, 15-minute hike, so I made one. Note: The trail is mostly unmarked and some of it is steep – it gains nearly 370 feet in just .5 miles.
The fastest place to start is at the picnic area just after Echo Lake Road on N.J. Route 23 North. (Scroll to the end for photos from the summit)
The trail starts in the grass straight ahead of the picnic area.
You walk along the power lines for a few hundred feet.
You can see the Charlottesburg Reservoir to your left across the highway.
Then you’ll come to a concrete drainage trough, which is the first small climb of this hike.
Once you climb up the ditch continues and may be overgrown. Once it clears up, it will look like there’s a trail to your right. DON’T go this way. This trail quickly disappears, and you’ll son be walking through heavy ground cover.
Instead, keep walking until the concrete ends, then continue following the power lines.
One of the first power lines up here has an empty electrical box on it, pictured below – this is where the woods trail begins.
Just past the power line box on the woods side is this small, unassuming trail. This is how much of the trail looks to the summit.
After a minute or so you’ll come to a Y in the trail, stay right to what seems like the less traveled trail. The trail to the left goes much farther around the back of the mountain and takes at least twice as long (it may be a gentler slope).
A lot of the trail will look like this, so just stay straight.
Until you see this, which is a whole bunch of trees and branches across the trail. You’ll have to go around and hop back on the trail. The undergrowth is small so this is easy.
Here again the trail might be faint, but it is there. During the daytime, in person, it is not difficult to follow.
Once the trail gets rocky it becomes significantly steeper.
Here you can see a huge rock jutting out of the ground beyond the trail. This will be to your right as you begin to climb, and if you ever have any doubts, all you have to do is keep going up. There is a wide 4×4 trail across the ridge top that you can’t miss.
At the next Y you’ll stay to the right again. In fact, you always stay to the rightmost trail.
From here on up the trail is wide and obvious, but it is rockier and steeper.
Once the trees start to clear you’re just about at the top.
Just hop over one more rock wall and…
You made it! The American flag and the (now fallen) star mark the spot.
This star used to be lit with rope lights, but it no longer functions.
And now you reap the rewards with incredible views of the hills and city skyline.