Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Ramapo Mountain State Forest
Mountains • Forests
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8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
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39 reviews
Very good

Trenton, NJ2,061 contributions
Sep 2020
Get to the parking lot very early or very late as it can become traffic jam. We went at likely the most ideal time of year when the whether was still hot, but the leaves were starting to change. The colors were just changing and vibrant and there was plenty of lush green. We took many different trails, hiking up Lookout, enjoying the forest, then circling the lake and finally heading up to the Stone Tower. The stone tower was the biggest disappointment, only because the areas been trashed by those who visit the park casually. Will go back, maybe in the snows.
Written December 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

50 contributions
Feb 2020
The “Yellow and Cannonball” trail loop - very nice first half, climbing west and north to the beautiful views of the lakes and mountain ranges from the mountain-top rim. Views onto the lakes continue as you take the trail downhill. Thereafter it is a flat, lake-side stroll along the frozen lake.
Quite busy with hikers for a cold day in February.
Recommended to be hiked counterclockwise
Written February 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

New York City, NY14,583 contributions
Aug 2016 • Solo
I lived in Franklin Lakes and this hike is about four miles from my house -- must have taken it a dozen times over the past ten years.

Driving Directions
Take I-287 to Exit 57 (Skyline Drive) and proceed north on Skyline Drive for about one mile to the upper parking area for Ramapo Mountain State Forest on the left side of the road, just beyond milepost 1.4, opposite the entrance to Camp Tamarack.


From the northern end of the parking area, cross to the east side of Skyline Drive and find a triple white blaze, which marks the start of the Todd Trail, on a telephone pole. Follow the Todd Trail for a short distance south along Skyline Drive, then turn left and enter the woods. Continue along the trail as it winds downhill on a rocky footpath and then ascends from a shallow ravine.

In half a mile, the Todd Trail turns right onto a woods road, which almost immediately turns sharply left. In a short distance, it passes the trail head of the Yellow Trail (blazed with yellow diamonds) on the left, and just beyond, it turns right into the woods. The Todd Trail ascends to a grassy knoll, which affords a view over Oakland, with High Mountain in the background.

Just beyond the viewpoint, the trail turns sharply right, makes a short, steep descent and follows along the side of a hill. After descending and crossing an old moss-covered paved road, the trail turns left onto a woods road. Continue to follow the white blazes as the trail intersects several other woods roads and crosses a stream on a culvert. Just beyond, it turns left, leaving the road, and climbs to a height of land. It then descends a little to cross Skyline Drive, a mile and a half from the start of the hike.

On the other side of Skyline Drive, the Todd Trail crosses a wooden footbridge over a stream. After following a level footpath for some distance, it ascends a knoll, then descends through a mountain laurel thicket. At the base of the descent, it bears left to parallel a stream. Soon, the Todd Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail.

Turn right, cross a stream, and follow the blue blazes along a wide woods road towards Ramapo Lake. In a short distance, the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail joins from the right. Continue ahead, now following both blue and yellow blazes. Just ahead, the joint yellow and blue trail turns left and descends to a wide, semi-paved road.

Turn left along the road, and head down to Ramapo Lake. At the lakeshore, the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail continues ahead, crossing the dam, but you should turn right onto North Shore Drive, the route of the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail. The MacEvoy Trail follows this gravel road along the northeast shore of the lake, passing a private home on the right and crossing a small stream on a stone-arch bridge, with an attractive cascade to the right.

A short distance beyond, you’ll come to a rock ledge on the left that overlooks the lake. This is a good place to take a break. Once known as Rotten Pond (a Dutch name for the muskrats that live in the lake), and later as Lake LeGrande, Ramapo Lake is the centerpiece of Ramapo Mountain State Forest. It was formerly surrounded by private property, but most of the land around the lake was acquired by the state in the 1970s.

Just beyond, the trail reaches the northern tip of Ramapo Lake. Bear right at the fork in the road and pass between two concrete pillars. A short distance ahead, the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail leaves to the left, and a triple-white blaze indicates the start of the Castle Point Trail. You should continue ahead on the road, now following the white blazes of the Castle Point Trail. Just beyond, as the road curves sharply to the right, turn left, leaving the road, and follow the white-blazed trail as it climbs steadily and rather steeply.

As you approach the top of the climb, bear left onto a rock ledge that offers a spectacular view. Directly below you is Ramapo Lake, with the Wanaque Reservoir to the right (west). On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline on the horizon to the left. You may want to pause here to rest from the steep climb and enjoy the view.

When you’re ready to continue, follow the white trail uphill. After climbing over a stone wall, you’ll reach the ruins of a mansion. Known as Foxcroft, it was built around 1910 by William Porter, a stockbroker. His widow occupied it until her death in 1940, and it fell into ruin in the late 1950s. Use caution if you wish to explore the remains of this once-elegant stone structure.

The trail continues to the north, passing the remains of a concrete swimming pool. A short distance beyond, an unmarked side trail to the left leads to an unobstructed west-facing viewpoint over the Wanaque Reservoir and the Wyanokie Mountains.

Continue on the white trail, which soon climbs to reach a stone tower. Contrary to what one might think at first glance, this was not a lookout tower; rather, it held a cistern that supplied water to the mansion (note the rusted pipes adjacent to the tower). Just beyond, there is a view from an open rock ledge to the left of the trail over the Wanaque Reservoir to the west.

The trail now begins to descend. Watch carefully as the Castle Point Trail turns right, just before reaching the route of a gas pipeline. It briefly joins a woods road, turns left onto a footpath before reaching a wide gravel road, then again turns left onto the woods road. It turns right and follows the gas pipeline for 350 feet, then turns right again, leaving the pipeline, and crosses a stream.

The trail now climbs, first gradually, then rather steeply through mountain laurel, to a rock ledge, which provides a view of the stone tower you passed about half a mile back.

A short distance beyond, the Castle Point Trail ends at a paved road, the route of the Cannonball Trail. Turn left and follow the road for 125 feet to Skyline Drive, then cross Skyline Drive and enter the woods, following the white-“C”-on-red blazes.

Soon, you will reach an intersection with the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail. Turn sharply right and follow the yellow trail as it ascends through mountain laurel. After descending steeply from a rock outcrop, it is only a short distance ahead to Skyline Drive and the parking area where the hike began.

Text by Daniel Chazin; trails maintained by the Trail Conference.
Written August 12, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kyle M
1 contribution
Jun 2016 • Friends
When I was young, my father started taking me with him on hikes. My favorite hike that we would go on was the Castle loop here at the Ramapo Mountain State Forest. I've hiked many times here, and every time I appreciate the park more and more.

The park is in a very accessible location, being only a stone throw from I-287. The park has two main parking lots, "Lower and Upper", both located off of Skyline Drive in Oakland. The park is also accessible from the Back Beach Park, Barbara Drive, West Oakland Ave, and Wolfe Drive.

The park is centered around the Ramapo Lake. The lake is extremely beautiful in every season, and is a hot spot for fishing. A very relaxed hiking route starts at the Lower lot. Follow the MacEvoy trail (blue), the Cannonball trail (red), and the woods roads that run around the lake to form a loop.

Another big attraction of the park is the Van Slyke Castle. The Van Slyke, Castle, also known as Foxcroft, is the ruins of a large estate on the summit of a ridge near the lake. The ruins are breathtaking, as only the stonework remains. There are also the ruins of a pump house that supplied the estate with water from a large cistern, and a concrete swimming pool. Castle Point, as it is often called, also gives tremendous views of the Ramapo Lake, The Wanaque Reservoir to the west, and even New York City to the east on a clear day.

My personal favorite loop in the park is around 3 miles, and starts at the Upper lot. From the lot, take the white and red blazed Skyline Connector Trail. After a short walk, take a right turn on the red Cannonball Trail. This will lead out to a paved road, and soon the white Castle Point trail will come in on the left. Take the Castle Point trail and follow it for ~1 mile. After passing great views of the Wanaque Reservoir, the pump house of the Van Slyke Castle will come into view. Stop at the pump house to explore, and then continue on the trail. Soon, the ruins of the castle itself will appear. Explore the grounds, and check out the views from the slick rocks just past the castle. This is a great spot to grab a bite to eat. After you have finished exploring the ruins or eating, hop over the stone wall and start the descent, still on the white trail. Before long, the Castle Point trail ends near the lake at the Cannonball trail. Continue straight on the Cannonball trail down closer to the lake, and then take a left on the blue MacEvoy trail. Follow the blue MacEvoy trail as it runs alongside the lake. Eventually, the trail crosses a very scenic dam that gives a great view of the lake. Right before the dam, take a left onto the yellow Hoeferlin Memorial. Take the yellow trail, and follow it for ~1 mile back to the Upper lot. I can't count the number of times I've done this loop on both hands, and it is just as special every time. It's the perfect loop for kids, family, friends, or to impress a date.

It is also very worth mentioning that the trails are very well maintained by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and their North Jersey Trails 115 map includes this park, along with other nearby parks. The map is available for both mobile devices and in print, and I never leave home for a hike without them.

Written June 27, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Rockaway Township, NJ268 contributions
Aug 2019 • Family
Love it here. Used to hike to the castle years ago but brought my sister, 12 year old son and 2 nephews today for a hike. We started at the lower lot and took the blue along the lake, through a beautiful property to Castle Trail and then back down through the red. What a beautiful place.
Written August 11, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Bob W
Oakland, NJ32 contributions
Sep 2014 • Solo
I've spent many days hiking the trails of Ramapo Mountain State Forest and never seem to get bored with them. There are 2 main access points to the trail-heads; the main one is off Route 202 (Ramapo Valley Road) just south of Darlington Ave in Mahwah, NJ. This area has a large parking lot. The other is right off of Skyline Drive about 1 mile north of Route 287 in Oakland, NJ. This area also has a parking lot, although not as large as the other one off of Route 202. The trails are usually well marked and easy to follow. However, it is very advisable to get trail maps for the area you intend to hike.
Written November 3, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Melanie T
New York City, NY4,460 contributions
Oct 2021 • Couples
For our annual fall hike, my husband and I did the Van Slyke Castle Loop trail, which All Trails lists as moderate and I would say that it's pretty accurate. It starts off as a nice, flat trail. The area by the lake is paved. After the lake is when it gradually starts getting harder. There are castle ruins at the top, and getting to the top was the tricky part, though not impossible - even for beginner-ish hikers like us.

We got there at around 10:15 on a Wednesday morning. By the time we got up to the castle, it was probably around 11:30. We had the entire place to ourselves, which we loved. We probably spent half an hour up there just hanging out, exploring, and taking photos, and not one person came by. It sounds a little eery but it was actually amazing. I can see it getting extremely packed during the weekends. I would highly recommend taking a random day off work like we did, if you plan on visiting here, just so you can avoid the crowds.

Here are a few tips:

1. The entrance where you need to park is very easy to miss. And if you miss it (like we did), you'll have to drive for a few miles before you can make a turn back round. If you see a sign for Ramapo State Forest, pull in there (even if Google maps will try to take you to a different location for the trailhead)
2. Once you get back down and onto the trail loop, pay attention to the white trail markers. The marker where you need to turn to start exiting is really easy to miss - especially since there is fork right next to it, which leads to a straight trail and looks like it leads to the parking lot but it most definitely does not. We learned this the hard way

I would do this trail again if someone hasn't been and wanted to check it out. It's a pretty unique trail.
Written October 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Belleville, NJ407 contributions
Jul 2018
My girlfriend and I like to hike in Ramapo Mountain State Forest. On this particular occasion the parking lot we usually walk from was packed, not a spot to be found. My girlfriend called a friend of hers and asked if there were any other entrances. Sure enough, we were told that if we travel about another mile on Rt 208 we will come to an area on the side of the roadway which can fit four cars and that there would be a one lane bridge that we can walk across and get into the preserve. We did this and sure enough we parked behind the only other vehicle there and walked across the one lane bridge and hiked about three miles. We usually hike a fairly level trail as this was totally uphill. At least coming back was a bit easier.
Written July 22, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

New York City, NY14,583 contributions
Dec 2016 • Couples
Thanks to Daniel Chazin for scoping out a very nice, scenic hike that took us about two hours with plenty of contemplation time.

This relatively short loop hike passes through the sites of two former Boy Scout camps – Camp Tamarack and Camp Todd. Each of these camps was situated on a lake, and the hike runs along the shore of both Lake Tamarack and Todd Lake. A number of relics from Camp Tamarack, which closed in the early 1990s, are visible along the way. Although the hike begins and ends in Ramapo Mountain State Forest, both lakes are located on property owned by Bergen County.

From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will see a triple orange blaze on a telephone pole, marking the start of the Schuber Trail, as well as a triple white blaze, which marks the start of the Todd Trail. The Todd Trail will be your return route, but for now, follow the orange blazes of the Schuber Trail, which turn right onto the gravel road that leads into the former Camp Tamarack, then immediately turn left and proceed downhill on a winding footpath.

At the base of the descent, the trail skirts the ruins of the former camp rifle range. Just ahead, with the ruins of the former archery range visible on the left, a triple-purple-blaze on the right marks the start of the Tamarack Trail, which was blazed in the fall of 2016 by volunteers of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Turn right onto the Tamarack Trail, which follows a level footpath and soon reaches the shore of Lake Tamarack. A rock ledge on the left affords a view over the lake, with a triangular building (the former camp chapel) visible across the lake on the left and the concrete-and-steel foundations of the former waterfront docks on the right.

The trail continues along the lakeshore, soon passing the concrete-and-stone foundations of the former camp waterfront buildings, with more views over the lake. After passing a balanced boulder, you’ll come to a third viewpoint over the lake. The trail now moves away from the lake, joining a woods road. Be alert for a turn where the Tamarack Trail bears left, leaving the road, and continues on a footpath.

A short distance beyond, the Tamarack Trail ends at a junction with the Yellow Trail (blazed with yellow diamonds) near the shore of Todd Lake. Turn right onto the Yellow Trail, which soon goes by a stone wall on a rock ledge at water level, with a view over the lake, and continues to parallel the lake. Near the lake’s south end, the Yellow Trail turns right and soon ends at a woods road, the route of the white-blazed Todd Trail.

Turn right, now following the white blazes. As another woods road joins from the left, the Todd Trail bears right, then almost immediately turns left and follows a footpath into the woods. It soon begins to climb, first rather steeply, then more gradually. After a level stretch, it descends to cross a seasonal stream in a shallow ravine, then ascends on a winding, rocky footpath, with several switchbacks. When it reaches Skyline Drive, the trail turns right and continues for about 200 feet to the triple white blaze marking the terminus of the Todd Trail, opposite the parking area where the hike began.
Written December 24, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

New Jersey6,507 contributions
Feb 2016
Ramapo is a great place to go hike and spend a half day exploring. In the fall, its absolutely beautiful. Definitely a place I would go back to for a hike or just to take in the scenery.
Written May 6, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Ramapo Mountain State Forest (Oakland) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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