Highlands Trail #5: Echo Lake

~4 hours, ~4 miles, moderate

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Park your car at the Pequannock Watershed Office at 223 Echo Lake Road in Newfoundland. You cannot hike in the Pequannock Watershed without a permit. You need to hike with a permit and also have a sticker on your car. Homeland Security stuff. Get er done. This places quenches the thirst of all of Newark.

 Pequannock Watershed parking lot (you also get your hiking permit here)

Pequannock Watershed parking lot (you also get your hiking permit here)

Have your Lyft driver bring you to the Otter Hole Parking Lot. Otter Hole Parking Lot actually comes up as a destination in your apps.

 this time you won't have your car here

this time you won't have your car here

Go down the trail. Shortly, you'll run into this. Turn left (west) onto the Highlands Trail. 

You're still in Norvin Green State Forest. Norvin Green has one last goodbye for you. Climb and get some of this at the top.

Scrambles!

 who doesn't adore blazed rock faces?

who doesn't adore blazed rock faces?

This is me wondering what's happening in Madison Square Park right now, where I used to work.

 squint and you can see the towers of Manhattan way out there (I'm actually serious)

squint and you can see the towers of Manhattan way out there (I'm actually serious)

I'm sorry to say that once you get over this hill the hike gets a bit monotonous from here on in. It was a downer. Spoiled by the last four hikes, challenging rocky terrain and spectacular views, I was expecting more of the same. Unfortunately, the trail goes on a main road (Otter Hole Road) for a bit, then on some side streets by houses. No one was around. Lights were on, cars were in the driveway, but no people. Devoid of life. Emotions are up and down when hiking and this was no different. Hard to control it sometimes. You pick up the vibe of the world around you, it blends into you, you blend into it.

Reflecting on where this road has taken me:

Eventually, the road runs into a trail that is pretty much a straight shot west. It is a forest, pretty flat. And the hike is pretty flat, mentally and spiritually.

Christmas tree at the edge of the forest:

Random chair in the middle of the forest:

 no reason

no reason

One highlight on this dismal forest meander were these sections of baby pine trees:

 do not try to smoke these

do not try to smoke these

In a few kilometers, you run into another road. This time Macopin Road. Once you get back on the trail on the other side, you are now in the Pequannock Watershed. At least, that's how I interpreted the sign below.

Basically, you just want to get to Echo Lake. That's it. Keep going until you get there. You're doing splendidly. Find a spot by the water and eat your avocado sandwich.

 it's a nice lake

it's a nice lake

 avocado and cream cheese, we ran out of straight up cheese

avocado and cream cheese, we ran out of straight up cheese

Head south back to your car. Reminisce about better hikes.

 in summary

in summary