Ascent of Cushetunk Mountain on 2016-10-02

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, October 2, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Cushetunk Mountain
    Location:USA-New Jersey
    Elevation:834 ft / 254 m

Ascent Trip Report

The officially sanctioned way to climb this peak is to start at the Round Valley State Park main entrance, near the west side of the Round Valley Reservoir. A 3.5 hiking trail leads to the summit area via a very roundabout route, featuring many ups and downs. This trail also features a narrow chain-link fence corridor to pass the main reservoir dam near a road, and traverses a youth camp where hikers must stay on the trail. This makes for a long and convoluted 7 mile hike.

Ben Lostracco's trip report on this site describes a much shorter and easier alternate approach (1.5 miles one-way) from Round Valley Road, which leaves Dreahook Road on the southeast side of the mountain. However, the area around the gate at the end of Round Valley Road is very heavily signed with several "No Hikers", "No Parking", "No Trespassing" and "Access Forbidden-use main park entrance" placards. The signs threaten citations, fines, and towing for parking in the vicinity. I did not feel comfortable leaving my car there, since there were some houses and driveways in the immediate vicinity.

I instead parked down on paved Dreahook Road, in a grassy area under the power lines--this was a rare area without any "No Trespassing" signs. Then I hiked up Round Valley Road, past some large barking dogs (thankfully confined behind a fence), and then followed Ben's directions--see his excellent report for more info

However, I do not recommend this approach. The neighbors do not like park visitors to use their road for access. The best way to do this peak is probably to get a boat (kayak, canoe, or motorboat) from the park entrance area to cross the Reservoir to a campground landing near its SE corner, where the trail up Cushetunk can be found easily. This saves the 7-mile hike and the access issues of the SE ground approach, and is it not forbidden by park rules.

The well-maintained main trail bypasses the summit area, which is a short but unpleasant bushwhack through thorn bushes ranging from knee-high to head-high. An ancient old farmer's stone wall might be the highest ground, near an overgrown field. I tracked about the area but it is very flat and the exact high ground is not discoverable amidst the brush.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:534 ft / 162 m
    Total Elevation Loss:534 ft / 162 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:534 ft / 162 m
    Distance:2.2 mi / 3.5 km
    Route:Red Tr
    Start Trailhead:Dreahook Rd  300 ft / 91 m
    Time:45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:534 ft / 162 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:Red Tr
    End Trailhead:Dreahook Rd  300 ft / 91 m
    Time:30 Minutes

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