Bearfort Ridge/Quail Trail Loop from Warwick Turnpike


This loop hike traverses the Bearfort Ridge, with its unusual puddingstone conglomerate rock and pitch pines growing out of bedrock, passes through a rhododendron tunnel, and comes out on the shore of Surprise Lake.

4.5 hours
Moderate to Strenuous
6 miles
Route Type:
Allowed on leash
Views, Wildflowers
First Published:

Daniel Chazin


Split Rock Ledge on Bearfort Ridge Trail - Photo by Daniel Chazin


View Bearfort Ridge/Quail Trail Loop in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.155715, -74.362748
Driving Directions

Take I-287 to Exit 57 and continue on Skyline Drive to its western end at Greenwood Lake Turnpike in Ringwood. Turn right and proceed for 8.4 miles to a Y intersection with Union Valley Road. Take the right fork and continue ahead for 0.3 mile on Warwick Turnpike. Just past a short concrete bridge, there is a turnout on the right side of the road. Park here. (This turnout is a short distance east of the intersection of Warwick Turnpike with White Road.)


From the parking turnout, walk east on Warwick Turnpike, going back over the concrete road bridge. Just east of the bridge, you'll see three white blazes that mark the start of the Bearfort Ridge Trail. This will be your route for the first half of the hike. Follow the white blazes uphill through rhododendrons and hemlocks. In about 500 feet, the trail joins a woods road that comes in from the right. Just beyond, follow the white blazes as the trail turns left, leaving the road. (The orange-blazed Quail Trail, which continues ahead along the road, will be your return route.) The white-blazed trail continues to ascend on a wide footpath. After crossing a stream, it levels off through mountain laurel. A little over half a mile from the start, the trail descends briefly to cross a wider stream and continues through a rhododendron grove. At the end of the rhododendrons, a blue-blazed trail which leads to Warwick Turnpike goes off to the left. Continue ahead on the white-blazed trail.

The Bearfort Ridge Trail now begins a steady, rather steep climb. About a mile from the start, it passes a large, lichen-covered outcrop to the right. It continues to climb until it reaches the crest of the ridge, marked by pitch pines. Here, a large conglomerate rock outcrop to the left offers an expansive view to the south. 

After taking in the view and resting from the steep climb, continue ahead, following the Bearfort Ridge Trail north along the puddingstone conglomerate ridge, through pitch pines. You'll make a brief but steep climb, and -- after crossing an open rock outcrop with several glacial erratics -- the vegetation will change to hemlocks and laurels. The trail continues at an elevation of about 1,300 feet, having climbed about 600 feet from the trailhead. After about half a mile of walking along the ridge, the trail crosses another open rock outcrop with a row of large glacial erratics, passes more pitch pines, and descends to cross a wet area.

The trail continues to wind through a hemlock forest, passing a limited viewpoint through the trees to the right. About two miles from the start, it comes out on a rock ledge overlooking a swamp to the west. Here, a narrow wedge of the bedrock has split away from the main ledge, forming a deep crevice. This is a good place to take a break.

When you're ready to continue, proceed north along the trail, which climbs to a rock outcrop with a huge boulder. It continues aView from the end of the Bearfort Ridge Trail. Photo by Daniel Chazin.long a whaleback rock, through pitch pines, and reaches a limited viewpoint to the east. The trail now descends steadily, through hemlocks and laurels. After crossing a stream amid jumbled rocks at the base of the descent, the trail climbs to a rock outcrop studded with pitch pines, which offers a limited east-facing view when there are no leaves on the trees.

The trail continues across more rock outcrops, with limited views both to the west and to the east. It then descends gently and levels off. Finally, it climbs to another outcrop -- marked by several cedar trees -- with a panoramic view. Sterling Forest and the Wyanokies can be seen to the east, and if there are no leaves on the trees, you may be able to see Surprise Lake to the north. An arm of the Monksville Reservoir is visible ahead, and on a clear day you can see the tops of New York City skyscrapers in the distance. You’ve now gone three miles from the start of the hike.

The white-blazed Bearfort Ridge Trail ends here, at a junction with the yellow-blazed Ernest Walter Trail. TurnBearfort Ridge Surprise Lake. Photo by Daniel Chazin right and follow the yellow-blazed trail as it heads downhill through a rocky area and soon crosses a stream. The trail continues through a dense rhododendron grove, with the thick rhododendrons forming a canopy over the trail in places. About half a mile from the end of the Bearfort Ridge Trail, you'll notice an orange-blazed trail coming in from the right. Continue ahead on the yellow trail for about 100 feet to an open area which overlooks Surprise Pond - a pristine, spring-fed lake. This is another good spot to take a break.

Now retrace your steps along the yellow trail, but when you come to the junction of the orange trail, bear left and follow the orange blazes. You're now on the Quail Trail, a woods road that will lead you back to the start of the hike. Follow the orange blazes as they climb gently for a short distance and then begin a steady descent. In three-quarters of a mile, you'll cross a stream on rocks. This crossing can be a little tricky if the water is high. After a short level stretch, the trail crosses another stream and then climbs briefly, soon resuming its descent.

In another mile, the trail crosses a third stream, after which the descent steepens. A third of a mile beyond, be sure to bear right, as another woods road goes off to the left. A short distance ahead, the orange-blazed trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed trail. Continue ahead along the road and then bear right, following the white blazes downhill and back to the trailhead.

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Great Hike, 2 easy add on Viewpoints!

Great Hike!  After the initial ascent I found it a moderate hike.  I would suggest when you get to the intersection of the Bearfort (white) & Earnest Walter (yellow) trails to hang a left on the Earnest Walter (yellow) trail and head to the West Pond viewpoint. After making the left in .2 miles you will come to a tree were the yellow trail will turn to the left but you will see a painted yellow arrow pointing to the right. Turn right and follow this trail a short distance to an amazing viewpoint!  For another easy viewpoint when you get to the intersection of the Earnest Walter (yellow) & Quail (orange) trails you can walk about .3 miles past Suprise Lake on the Earnest Walter (yellow) trail and climb a small rock outcropping to anohter great view point.  Amazing hike, will defintely be back!   

Not quite 6 miles, but great hike nonetheless

I hiked this loop for the first time today.  The trails were well marked for the most part with a few spots on the Quail Trail missing markers due to downed trees.  My Garmin indicated the total loop was 5.6 miles, including the short trail to and from the parking turnoff on Warwick Tpk to the official trailhead(s) of the Bearfort Ridge Trail and Quail Trail.

GPS Mileage Difference

Glad you enjoyed the hike, and I hope you were able to stay warm out there!

The mileage of this particular hike is about 5.85 miles based on our accurate GIS-based track of the route.  A straight-line measurement of the trails is about 5.45 miles, but an additional 0.4 mile is added when elevation and fine trail wiggles are accounted for.  So the mileage is almost halfway between the stated mileage here and your GPS mileage.

Often, GPS readings can be fairly reliable, but there can be times where they are not quite correct due to a variety of potential errors.  A GPS distance can sometimes differ based on the type of device, the collection interval on the device, or even within different apps in a smartphone device.  Other errors can also creep in, such as poor GPS statellite configurations and GPS wandering if you are stationary for a while.  In this case, however, it appears that your Garmin mileage was actually fairly close to actual.

If you are interested, here are some other statistics about this hike:

--Minimum elevation:  700 ft

--Maximum elevation:  1375 ft

--Total elevation gain/loss:  1400 ft


~Jeremy, TC Cartographer

Thanks for the response,

Thanks for the response, Jeremy.  I use a Garmin Edge 500.  I've been using it for several years for bike rides and hikes.  It has been fairly accurate with regards to distance traveled, altitude, speed, etc.  Just to compare, here is more of the data I recorded on this hike:   --Minimum elevation (at the lower parking turnout on Warwick Tpk by White Rd): 577 ft   --Maximum elevation: 1371 ft   --Total elevation gain/loss: 1327 ft   I did take a short break for lunch along the Bearfort Ridge Trail but I shut my Garmin off when I was stationary.  I did the whole thing in a moving time of 2:17:44. The cold weather sure helped me keep a movin'.

Excellent hike - and public transit available!

I took the 197 NJ bus from the Port Authority Building in NYC and got off after West Milford (about 1.5 hours). The bus travels along Union valley road and getting off at the White Road intersection (not an actual stop, you jsut have to ask) puts you a two minute walk from the trail head. At the fork where White Road takes off from Union Valley Road, keep left. Walk along the road until it joins another - Warwick Turnpike. Turn right on Warwick Turnpike, and the trail head is maybe 100 feet down, on your left. On the way back, I walked to West Milford, but this is a long hike on pavement. On Saturday afternoon, a NY bound bus went by every two hours. The trail was beautiful - great views - and these directions were very helpful. It's possible to explore a lot more loops in this area and I plan on heading back once the trees are budding!

Bearfort Trail - July 2011

This is a brutal yet beautiful trail - I lost count on the number of rock scambles. When you view my photos ( ) you will see some of the scrambles. BUT don't let this stop you from trying this trail...      I recommend taking the yellow trail past Surprise Lake to the blue State Line Trail - magnificent views of GreenwoodLake.  I was going to complete the yellow circle from there (touching the Appalachian) - but it was too warm and I was beated by all the scrambles...    I doubled back and then walked the Orange trail to the car. That is an easy route back.  My trip (see last photo) was 7 miles.  Great hike! Also - there appears to be a parking area just before you reach the trail after leaving 511 and entering Warwick TP - and then another right over the bridge just past the trail.

Hike here if you don't think New Jersey is beautiful

This is a gorgeous loop hike, and pretty easy to follow. (Don't be intimidated by the length of the description--for some reason, it is copied twice.)  [Note:  The duplication has been removed -- the hike now appears only once! DC]

The views at the end of the Bearfort Ridge Trail have been described as the most beautiful in all of New Jersey. Some Bearfort Ridge Trail photos posted here.

At the very first viewpoint mentioned, on your left at the top of the ridge, note that the trail continues on to the right. We enjoyed the view and the rest as suggested, then continued "straight" from where we had left off...into the woods. The trail follows the ridge, which is to your right if you hadn't rested at the view, or behind you if you had.

Note also that the Quail Trail has some water crossings if there have been a lot of rain. Quail Trail water crossing photo here.

Jeremy Glick Trail

Good description. It's a great hike whether you do it from Warwick Tpk, Jersey Ave or Longhouse Road. Note: a few years after 9-11, the old Quail Trail was renamed the "Jeremy Glick Trail" by the West Milford Town Council. Not sure if the new name is recognized yet by the TC, but the locals refer to it by its new name. 



Thanks for your comments

Thanks for your comments about the hike.  

The trail is still Quail Trail on Trail Conference map and in the hiking books.   The renaming by the Town Council is just that, a local name.