Cushetunk Trail – Round Valley Recreation Area – Lebanon, Hunterdon County, NJ
Distance – 8.4 miles total one way (16.8 if you do the whole trail out and back)
Type – Out-and-back
Difficulty: 6 of 10
Website – https://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/roundvalleyrecreationarea.html
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Hilly
Surface – Dirt, gravel, grass – depending on section
Trailheads – N 40° 37.153 W 074° 50.980
Directions – 1220 Stanton Lebanon Rd, Lebanon, NJ 08833
Parking – Lots at trailhead. Make sure to check in at the park office first and get your permit.
Dog friendly? Yes.
Stroller friendly? Definately not
Benches? A few, very spread out
Facilities?: Bathrooms near trailhead and at campground
Our campground review – check it out here!
When NJ announced at the beginning of the year that campsites would reopen April 1, we got very excited. Until we learned it was car camping sites with real bathrooms only… boo! But in the fine print, it said the only backcountry camping would be Round Valley. Yay!
So, as soon as the system opened up in February, I snagged one at Round Valley for our first trip here. It would be the 9 year old’s first backpacking in 1 1/2 years (and first with a full pack) and 7 year olds first backpacking since he was 1 out at Isle Royale National Park (he rode on my wife’s back then)! BACKPACKING!
So the big weekend arrives and…. big storm with high winds. *sigh* I had already taken off from work, so the kids and I went up, but it was just a little too dangerous with the winds. So we did something that I never, ever, ever, ever, ever do. We stayed in a hotel. *GASP*
The next morning dawned bright and sunny, so it was time to backpack out to the campground. Hooray!
The trail heads out of the parking lot, only to immediately hit the side of the road.
A sharp left and then a sharp left brings you to a pretty little viewpoint overlooking the reservoir.
From here, we headed off down the trail for real. We had a few more water views, but then would lose sight of the water until we were at the edge of the campground. The trails were steeper than I thought, and the kids and I had more ups and downs to contend with that I’d counted on. It was The Pres’s first time with a full pack, so I was a bit worried about him, but he did just fine (Daddy was the slow one who felt tired).
Early on, the trail cuts through some private property.
There were some pretty Spring views as we approached the power line cut.
Once we crossed the powerline cut, the trail turned right and followed the wires downhill. At this point, the trail followed along a fence line… which it would do most of the rest of the trail. It was a bummer. As someone commented along the trail, it felt at times like hiking at the edge of a prison yard.
Ah, hiking through Season 3 of the Walking Dead.
There was a nice little pond with a bench. Our way back the next day, we sat here for a little while and watched the birds.
The flowers were really nice on the trees though.
Eventually, we hit the intersection with the red Campsite Trail, which roughly parallels the Cushetunk Trail from her eon.. You can continue on the Cushetunk Trail for about four more miles, but we made our way toward the campground… down, down, down the hill.
For a hike that goes around a huge body of water, we didn’t see a ton of it along the trail. We were pretty thrilled when we saw it again.
The trail bottoms out near the water, but then begins to climb again as it heads toward the first campsite.
We made it to the campground!
The trail once it hits the campground turns into pretty much a service road. We were soaking in the Spring on a much more level walkway, looking for our campsite.
We finally made it to campsite 10, yay! If you want to know about our campsite, check out our Campsite Review for the park.
Anyway, we enjoyed our evening by the reservoir.
In the morning, we made breakfast, broke camp, and headed for the parking lot. The kids were in really good shape for the second day of a backpacking trip (this was The Pres’s first time with a full backpacking pack). We made better time heading back, as we were in the cool morning air (also, we’d already looked for most of the geocaches on the way out).
Took a break at the little pond.
Close to the parking lot is the nicest view of the trail.
Finally, WE MADE IT! Proud of The Pres and Tree Rider for doing such a great job backpacking this trip. And Blue Puppy. Can’t forget Blue Puppy.
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Some lovely views of the water, really nice camping, Spring is amazing.
The fence. Oh man, the fence.
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