The Apshawa Preserve of West Milford in Passaic County, NJ was a hike that offered a variety of interesting stops along the way. Our goal was to find an abandoned dam that we had read about, but along the way we not only encountered breathtaking views of the Butler Reservoir, but also babbling brooks and ruins of an early 20th century water purification plant. We continued on and finally found the abandoned dam, a stunning ending to our fascinating adventure.
Some general tips for this hike include keeping a close eye out for trail markers, because trails will sometimes turn suddenly and could be easily missed. Also, you will be passing through several deer fences, which are a part of a reforestation effort. Just unlatch the gate and make sure to close it behind you. Some parts of the hike are steep climbs and descents, so bring water and be prepared to pause for some time to rest.
Park at the the Northwood Drive Parking lot, which is located off of Macopin Road in West Milford, NJ (Coordinates for parking: 41.025310, -74.373784) We started on the blue trail, passed the purple and orange trails, and continued until it connected to the green trail. We turned right onto the green trail and soon got our first glimpse of the dazzling Butler Reservoir. The green trail forked and we went left, following the now green and red trail. Soon a gravel road ran perpendicular to the green and red trail. We turned right onto the road and continued until the green and red trail split. Go left onto the green trail, which will lead you to the ruins of the water purification plant. We were looking real hard for hints that we were close to the “rusted water tanks,” little did we know how conspicuous these tanks would actually be. There were also ruins of small buildings near the tanks.
We continued down the green trail until we finally arrived at the concrete dam. It hadn’t been too rainy, but the dam was still dazzling as the sun set behind the water spilling onto the rocks below. The green trail will continue from there, and we eventually made a right onto the orange trail, then another right onto the blue trail, which led us back to the parking lot.
This is the very helpful trail map that we used to navigate- Apshawa Preserve Trail Map
The Butler Reservoir
Water Purification Facility Ruins
Early Twentieth Century Dam