Nocka-Rocka Scramble (Haycock Mountain at Nockamixon State Park)

Haycock Mountain at Nockamixon State Park, Top Rock Rd, Haycock, PA
Open year round, 24x7 (located on state game lands)
(215) 529-7300   Website    Google Maps     Haycock Trail Map

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Special notes for parents
On this hike, your kids are likely going to be scrambling over large boulders and leaping over gaps that could injure them if they misjudge the distance or slip. The trail is confusingly marked, so that even experienced hikers will find them hard to follow. If your kids LOVE this kind of thing, this will become their favorite hike on the planet. Take a kid who’s never done this before, and it might become a life-changing trauma. Be safe. Only take your kids here if they’ve got lots of experience and you trust their judgement. Remember, you’ll be scrambling too, and won’t necessarily be able to stay with them at every moment.

Haycock Mountain is an entertaining, short hike (only about 0.75 mile from the trailhead to summit).  You gain 460 vertical feet in this distance, which puts the average gradient about 12%, though the hike gets a fair bit steeper as you approach the summit.   The payoff is the scramble:  from roughly the midpoint of the hike to the summit, you’re picking your way through giant boulders.

Hiking to the summit of Haycock requires an entertaining scramble over large boulders
Hiking to the summit of Haycock requires an entertaining scramble over large boulders. 
This is the steepest bit near the summit ridge.

The short length and scrambly nature of the hike makes it particularly entertaining for experienced hiker-kids.  It does require experienced hiker-adults to accompany them because the trail is poorly blazed, and appears as if it was never officially marked.  Many individuals have stepped in to fill the void, with the result that there are several, mutually inconsistent markers through the critical sections of the hike.  For example, towards the left border of the photo above you can see a pink two-headed arrow that someone painted to mark this section of the trail.  What you don’t see are 4 other types of markers through the same general area:  blue paint, pink surveyor’s tape, white reflective tape, and yellow paint left by different generations of “helpful” hikers, which are all marking slightly different routes through the boulders.

Overall, I thought the blue paint markers were the most helpful, but these weren’t consistently visible.  You have to consider any single blaze as “advisory” and ultimately pick your own route.  If I found myself getting into trouble, I would backtrack a few dozen feet and try again.  I found there always was a reasonable alternative that didn’t require taking any serious risks.

Take it from faithful companion Gumbo:  "Be safe, wear orange during hunting season.  I do."
Take it from my faithful hiking companion Gumbo: “Be safe! Wear orange during the hunting season. I always do. Woof.”

Haycock Mountain’s trailhead is off of Top Rock Rd, 0.6 mile north of 563, near the eastern end of Nockamixon State Park.  There’s no signage at the trail-head identifying this as Haycock Mountain.  From the parking lot, you’ll also have the choice of a trail or a gravel woods road (take the trail).  The trail itself is on State Game Land 153, not the State Park, per se.  During hunting season, make sure you wear orange as you’re walking through a preserve set aside for hunters.

Driving to Haycock takes just under an hour.  There are literally dozens of routes from Trenton, all of which take about the same time, and none of which are terribly direct.  My suggestion is to drive via Stockton, NJ.  This makes the drive absolutely gorgeous, though you may need a navigator if you don’t have a GPS.

This is also a relatively long drive for a relatively short hike.  If you have kids, it may be worth it anyway, but consider making an outing of it by taking in other activities in the state park, or else stopping in Doylestown or New Hope on the way home.


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