Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Looking for a day hike from New York City? The young and young-at-heart should head to Milburn less than an hour away.

This past weekend, I decided to take a hiking day trip out of New York City for some much needed mental restoration.

The criteria I had when looking for the perfect day hike:

  • less than an hour away from Manhattan by train/easy to get to by public transportation
  • no more than 6-7 miles long
  • well-maintained blazes (it was my first time hiking alone and I didn’t want to get lost!)
  • (optional) wouldn’t be too crowded on Labor Day weekend

I settled on the South Mountain Reservation which had everything I was looking for and, as I discovered, was also home to faeries.

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

This way to the fairy trail.

How to Get There

The best part about this day hike from NYC is that the commute is easy and blissfully short (just 40 minutes from Penn Station to Milburn on the NJ Transit). The Locust Grove parking lot where the trail starts is also directly behind the train stop, so it’s impossible to miss.

The whole hike took me about 6 hours to complete, but only because I dawdled along taking pictures, and spent at least half an hour at Hemlock Falls. I started my hike around 11am on a Saturday, and didn’t get to the first fairy house until maybe 3pm. I finally got back to the Milburn train station around 5:20pm and caught the next train back half hour later.

Since it was my first time hiking alone, I followed this guide which looped from the train stop to Hemlock Falls and back by way of the Lenape and Rahway trails. (The Rahway is where the faeries are.) I could have easily taken this trail in reverse, front-loading the fairy business but decided to leave it for the last half of the 6-mile loop so I had something to look forward to!

How to Find The Fairy Trail

I followed the Rahway Trail from Hemlock Falls back to the parking lot for over an hour without seeing anything. Most of the houses were in the last hour or so of the hike, but they’re very visible from the trail and once you start seeing them, you won’t be able to stop!

At least four groups of people—some children, some adult pairs—saw me photographing the fairy houses and asked if I was the one who’s been putting them up. I just laughed. Nobody who’s ever seen me wield a hammer would’ve thought to ask…

Fairies Are Just Like Us…

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Fairies leave their shoes lying around.

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Fairies need a place to come home to at night.

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Fairies need their rest.

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Not all fairies have wings.

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Fairies leave their beds a mess.

Day Hike from NYC: On the Fairy Trail in Milburn, NJ

Fairies break their toys.

Fairy Trail Junk Yard

Fairies have junk yards.

The Fairy Trail Is Fragile

Fairies like their privacy.

Believe in the Fairy Trail

Fairies believe in magic.

Would you make the trek to see the fairy trail? What are you favorite day trips out of New York City?