Our Hike to Tripod Rock
For the past week, the weather has been very unpredictable—sunny and raining at the same time, thunder cloud on my little weather app yet blue skies outside, wacky winds that blow down giant neighborhood trees, etc. Though the weather app said this past Saturday would be thunderstorms all day, we woke up to a beautiful and cool day, so we quickly headed out to take advantage of it!
For quite a while, my list of must-do family hikes has included the hike from Pyramid Mountain Visitor Center (472 Boonton Ave, Montville Township, NJ) up to Tripod Rock, a 180-ton boulder propped up by three smaller boulders deposited by the Wisconsin Glacier more than 18,000 years ago. I first hiked there with two friends this past September while the kids were at school. I immediately knew that I had to return with my husband and kids. The trails were beautiful, and Tripod Rock is definitely worth the climb.
It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Madison to Pyramid Mountain Visitor Center. We parked in the lot, grabbed a map from the information board, then headed inside the center for a quick bathroom break. While there, we looked around the nice displays about local flora and fauna, and also the Lenape. We had fun listening to the recorded bird calls and trying to “Match the Scat” (rubber scat, of course) to the animals. The environmentalist at the visitor center helped us determine which trails to take to reach Tripod Rock, and highlighted our map for us. There were some hiking sticks we could have signed out, but the environmentalist suggested that it might be best to have both our hands free for the steep sections of the hike.
Then we headed along the trail by the parking lot to start our hike. There are two trails that start the hike up—yellow and blue. As the environmentalist had suggested, we took the yellow trail up and the blue trail back so we could get a different experience. The yellow trail has a section where you need to climb on pretty steep rocks, so it is best to take that one up, not back. You could also take blue both ways, but we wanted to try both trails.
The trails were nicely shaded and well-kept. Despite the beautiful cool weather, we really saw barely anyone on the trails. As we expected, the yellow trial had a steep section, but we enjoyed scrambling up the rocks. Closer to the top of the mountain, we stopped on some boulders to eat the sandwiches we brought and enjoy the view. Then we continued on to Tripod Rock, following a mix of blue, yellow, and white trails.
We all loved the rock! We clamored under it to enjoy the feeling of having an 180-ton boulder propped above us. We took goofy photos that made it look like we were holding it up ourselves, or kicking out one of the three holder rocks while others were under it. A group of millennials who were there at the same time took turns climbing on top of the rock, which made me super nervous, especially when some of their friends were underneath it at the time. We then made our way back down to the Visitor Center along the blue trail. The round trip hike was about 1.5-2 miles and takes about an hour and a half to 2 hours, if you don't stop too long for breaks.
Pyramid Mountain Visitor Center is located at 472 Boonton Ave, Montville Township, NJ. Pyramid Mountain trails are open sunrise to sunset throughout the year. The Visitor Center is open 7 days a week, 9am-4:30pm throughout the year. For more information, click here or call 973-334-3130.