This New Jersey Hike Leads to an Abandoned Graveyard

If you’re seeking a hiking experience that blends history, mystery, and adventure, consider exploring the Four Birds Trail in Morris County. This trail leads to an abandoned graveyard from the 19th century, a bat-viewing platform, and a hawk watch spur. Here are details about this intriguing hike and what to anticipate along the journey.

The Four Birds Trail

The Four Birds Trail spans 19.4 miles, traversing the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area and Farny State Park. Named after four endangered bird species in the region – the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, osprey, and red-shouldered hawk – the trail is marked with white blazes. It features diverse terrain, including rocky hills, wetlands, and forests, earning a moderate to difficult rating. Some segments may involve scrambling or bushwhacking. Accessible from various points, the southern terminus is at the intersection of Green Pond Road and Lower Hibernia Road in Rockaway.

The Hibernia Cemetery

An intriguing stop along the Four Birds Trail is the Hibernia Cemetery, also known as Saint Patrick’s Cemetery. Situated approximately 0.6 miles from the southern trailhead on the right side, the cemetery was established in 1869. It served as the final resting place for workers and families of the Hibernia iron mines and furnaces. With around 92 graves, including marked crosses, headstones, or metal plaques, it holds the remains of Irish immigrants from the 1800s iron industry. Despite its peaceful ambiance among trees and wildflowers, some visitors have reported a spooky or eerie vibe, particularly at night or in foggy weather.

The Hibernia Mine and Bat-Viewing Platform

Another highlight on the Four Birds Trail is the Hibernia Mine and bat-viewing platform, situated around 0.1 miles from the southern trailhead on the right side. Once part of the Hibernia iron operation from the 1700s to 1916, the mine produced high-quality iron ore. After closing, it became New Jersey’s largest bat hibernaculum, hosting up to 30,000 bats annually until white-nose syndrome led to a drastic decline. The bat-viewing platform allows observation of the mine entrance and provides insights into bat history. Dusk is the optimal time to witness the bats emerging to feed on insects.

The Hawk Watch Spur

For bird enthusiasts, continue hiking along the Four Birds Trail to reach the hawk watch spur, about 2.5 miles from the southern trailhead on the left side. Marked with a sign directing to the hawk viewing platform, a brief walk from the main trail offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and Splitrock Reservoir. This spot is ideal for observing hawks, eagles, falcons, and other raptors, particularly during the fall migration season from September to November. Wildlife such as deer, foxes, turkeys, and bears may also be spotted.


The Four Birds Trail offers more than just physical activity and scenic views; it unveils hidden gems of New Jersey’s history and nature, including the Hibernia Cemetery, Hibernia Mine, and hawk watch spur. Whether seeking a short stroll or a longer adventure, this trail caters to everyone. Ensure you’re adequately equipped with gear, water, snacks, and a map, while also respecting the wildlife and gravesites encountered along the way.


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