October 9, 2021 – Oakland, New Jersey
Size: Roughly 4 miles
Max elevation: 590 ft.– complete elevation acquire roughly 317 ft.
Route sort: Lollipop Loop
Purchase Map: Northern New Jersey Highlands Trails Map 2021
Free Map: Ramapo Mountain State Forest Map 2021
Trailhead parking: Ramapo Lake Trailhead – 67 Skyline Drive, Oakland, NJ 07436
No entrance or parking charges – car parking zone typically fills up early on weekends
Ramapo Mountain State Forest positioned in Bergen and Passaic Counties in New Jersey, is a rugged 4,269-acre space, with elevations starting from about 200 to 1,100 ft, providing hikers practically 30 miles of trails for his or her enjoyment. From meandering outdated roads, to historic trails, to tougher rock scrambles, the realm gives one thing for outside fans of all talent ranges.
The central characteristic of the realm is the scenic 120-acre Ramapo Lake, which has spectacular views from quite a few rock outcroppings and ledges, and gives glorious alternatives for fishermen. The ponds, streams and marshes discovered throughout the forest present the right habitat for birds and different wildlife species.
The Ramapo Mountain State Forest, which incorporates wild lands within the municipalities of Oakland (Bergen County), Pompton Lakes, Ringwood and Wanaque, borders Ringwood State Park and the Ramapo Valley County Reservation, part of the Bergen County Park System. The park is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.
The Ramapo Lake Loop Path (2.6 miles), which encircles the man-made lake, is a well-liked hike, accessed from the decrease car parking zone on Skyline Drive by way of the Ramapo Lake Spur (0.6 mile). The path across the lake is a largely degree woods highway with a number of minor ups and downs. Ramapo Lake is the hub of the path system within the 1,400-acre Ramapo Lake Pure Space throughout the forest.
The Ramapo Lake Spur Path is an uphill stroll from the car parking zone on an eroded and rocky woods highway, gaining about 190 ft of elevation in about 0.6 mile.
Coping with some well being points, I used to be on the lookout for a calming stroll the place I might simply soak in some nature on a gentle October day. This hike was good and it actually match the invoice. Understanding that the car parking zone fills up early on weekends, we arrived shortly earlier than 9am on a Saturday morning. The lot was already practically full, however we managed to discover a spot to park. We did the loop clockwise stopping typically to take pictures and take within the surroundings.
Moreover the preliminary uphill, the remainder of the hike was a straightforward stroll across the lake. The elevation graph beneath illustrates the mild ups and downs for many of the hike.
On the southern finish of the parking space, a triple black-square-on-blue blaze marks the beginning of the Ramapo Lake Spur. Comply with the path into the woods, passing stone ruins. After going up a steep pitch, the path continues to climb on a large, rocky path, paralleling a cascading brook (significantly engaging after heavy rains).
As you method the crest of the rise, you’ll cross a stream on rocks. A brief distance past, the white-blazed Citadel Loop joins from the fitting. Simply forward, the paths bear left at a fork and descend to a path junction at Ramapo Lake, the place the Ramapo Lake Spur ends (there are road indicators on the junction for South Shore Drive, North Shore Drive and Rye Cliff Highway). Right here, it is best to flip left, crossing the dam of Ramapo Lake.
On the opposite aspect of the dam, a triple blue-on-white blaze marks the beginning of the Ramapo Lake Loop. You can be following this path in a clockwise route across the lake. Simply forward, the red-on-white-blazed LeGrande Hill Loop begins on the left, and for the subsequent 500 ft, the route is co-blazed with red-on-white markers. Proceed to comply with the blue-on-white blazes alongside the huge gravel highway, which runs near the lakeshore, with views throughout the lake. To the north, atop a hill with a number of pines, you may see the ruins of Foxcroft, a mansion in-built 1910 which fell into disrepair within the 1950’s. (The Citadel Loop, which ends up in the ruins of this mansion, is one other nice hike on this space.)
The highway proceeds by dense vegetation, crosses a causeway over an arm of the lake, and passes a swamp on the left and several other fascinating rock outcrops. It then strikes away from the lakeshore however continues to parallel it, with views over the lake by the bushes.
Simply previous the southern finish of the lake, a couple of mile from the dam, the highway reaches a T-intersection. Right here, the crimson/blue LeGrande-Lake Connector begins on the left, however it is best to flip proper to proceed on the Ramapo Lake Loop. Then, in one other 300 ft, bear proper at a Y-intersection the place the Cannonball Path, marked by white-“C”-on-red blazes, joins from the left.
You’re now heading north by dense vegetation, paralleling the western shore of Ramapo Lake. At first, the highway runs a long way from the water, however after some time, the lake will be seen by the bushes. In half a mile, you’ll move a constructing on the hillside to the left (previously used as a ranger station) and, a brief distance past, a rock ledge to the fitting of the path gives a pleasing view of the lake.
Quickly, one other gravel highway joins from the left. Comply with the highway forward, crossing a stone causeway that isolates a quiet pond on the left from the principle physique of the lake. Subsequent, you’ll attain one other Y-intersection. Right here, the Cannonball Path turns left onto an intersecting gravel highway, however it is best to bear proper and proceed to comply with the blue-on-white blazes. A brief distance forward, you’ll discover a triple-blue blaze on the fitting. Comply with this blue-blazed aspect path for 500 ft to a rock outcrop overlooking the lake. After taking within the view, return to the Ramapo Lake Loop and switch proper.
After passing a small, deserted stone constructing on the fitting, there are open views of Ramapo Lake from the shoreline.
A brief distance later, you’ll come to a different intersection. Right here, it is best to bear proper, as soon as extra becoming a member of the white-blazed Citadel Loop. Comply with the white and blue-on-white-blazed gravel highway that runs near the shore alongside the northern finish of the lake, passing a viewpoint over the lake from a rock ledge on the fitting.
Quickly, you’ll move a non-public residence on a ledge to the left. On the finish of the lake, a triple blue-on-white blaze marks the tip of the Ramapo Lake Loop. Proceed forward to a T-intersection with road indicators, proceed by a niche within the guardrail at an indication for the Citadel Loop Path and the Ramapo Lake Spur Path, and proceed alongside the black-square-on-blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Spur, retracing your steps again to the parking space the place the hike started.
A gorgeous space to spend a number of hours. Extra like a stroll than a hike, however price a go to nonetheless. Particularly scenic in Autumn when the leaves change. Though there was fairly a number of individuals right here on a Saturday, it didn’t really feel crowded. Many viewpoints over the lake to loosen up and luxuriate in a snack.
Extraordinarily scenic panorama, properly marked trails.
Can get crowded on weekends, no overflow parking.
Take a hike!