From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, proceed downhill along the left edge of a grassy field. At the end of the field, enter the woods and head downhill on a wide path, following the sign “To Falls.” At the base of the descent, turn right (following the sign "To Falls") and head downstream along India Brook to an old stone fireplace. Just beyond is Buttermilk Falls, an attractive...
From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, proceed downhill along the left edge of a grassy field. At the end of the field, enter the woods and head downhill on a wide path, following the sign “To Falls.” At the base of the descent, turn right (following the sign "To Falls") and head downstream along India Brook to an old stone fireplace. Just beyond is Buttermilk Falls, an attractive cascade.
Retrace your steps to the junction and continue ahead along the brook on a footpath. You’ll soon begin to climb the hillside, passing under several fallen trees and through a narrow passage between rocks. A short distance ahead, you’ll pass the site of the Lewis Forge, marked by a sign.
Soon, you’ll come to a footbridge over the brook. Turn right and cross the bridge, then turn right and proceed south along the brook. When you reach a berm (a remnant of the dam built for the Lewis Forge), turn left and head uphill to a trail marked with yellow and white blazes. Turn right onto this trail, which heads south along the brook, soon reaching Buttermilk Falls (now viewed from the opposite side of the brook).
Bear left and continue ahead on the white trail, which gradually climbs the hillside, bears left, then descends a little to a junction with the red trail, which joins from the right. A short distance beyond, the white trail turns right. Continue ahead on the red trail, following the sign to “Wood Duck Pond.” After descending a little more, the trail turns left and climbs to the pond – actually, a phragmites-filled wetland. At the end of the pond, turn left and climb to a wide, grassy road (shown on the hikemendham.org maps as the “Buttermilk Falls Walkway” or the “Woodchip Trail”).
Turn left onto this unmarked road, following the sign to “Frog Pond.” The road climbs to the top of a rise and descends to the pond, also filled with phragmites. [NOTE: During wet periods, this unmarked grassy road may be flooded and impassable in places.] Here, you’ll reach another junction. Continue ahead on the grassy road, following the sign to “Combs Hollow Road.”
In another 0.6 mile, you reach a trail junction. Continue ahead on the grassy road. Just beyond, at an abandoned building, the blue trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead towards Combs Hollow Road, following the wide, grassy road. Just before reaching the parking area, a sign on the right marks the start of the blue trail (the sign faces the opposite direction, so if you come to the parking area, turn around, head south for a short distance, and you will see the sign on the left). Turn right and follow the blue trail, which begins as a footpath through the woods, then bears right and joins a woods road. Soon, you’ll pass two small ponds (once part of the water supply for the Borough of Mendham) and reach the end of the blue trail at the abandoned building. Turn left onto the grassy road, but almost immediately, at the next junction, turn right onto a yellow-blazed trail, following the sign “To Falls.”
Head south along the yellow trail, parallel to the brook, below on your right. When you reach a sign for the “Bridge,” turn right and descend to the brook. Turn right, follow the brook upstream to the bridge, cross the bridge, turn left, and retrace your steps back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 11/25/2015 updated/verified on 08/12/2021
This loop hike parallels a scenic brook, passes several ponds, and goes by a number of historic sites.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.