Carris Hill/Wyanokie High Point Loop from Otter Hole

Overview

This loop hike climbs to panoramic viewpoints on Carris Hill and Wyanokie High Point and returns via pleasant footpaths and woods roads.

Details
Time:
4.5 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate to Strenuous
Length:
5.8 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall, Cliffs
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Passaic
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
11/09/2007

Updated/Verified:
08/22/2012
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.045837,-74.350383
Driving Directions

Take I-287 to Exit 53 (Bloomingdale) and turn left onto Hamburg Turnpike. Upon entering Bloomingdale, the name of the road changes to Main Street. In 1.3 miles (from Route 287) you will reach a fork in the road. Bear right, and in another 0.1 mile turn right (uphill) onto Glenwild Avenue (following the sign to West Milford). Continue ahead for 3.2 miles to a parking area on the right side of the road.

Description

From the eastern end of the parking area, at the sign "Welcome to Bloomingdale," follow the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail, which heads north and descends to Posts Brook at Otter Hole, an attractive cascade and waterfall. Here the trail crosses the brook on large boulders.

Just beyond the brook, the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail leaves to the left, and the Hewitt-Butler Trail is joined by the Highlands Trail, with teal diamond blazes. Continue ahead, following the blue and teal diamond blazes along a rocky woods road. When you reach the next Y-intersection, take the right fork. The trail continues to ascend for a short distance, and then begins a steady descent.

In about half a mile, the trail turns left, leaving the woods road, and continues to descend. At one point, the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail joins briefly, but continue ahead on the blue-blazed trail (also blazed with teal diamonds).

After leveling off, the trail approaches Posts Brook, crosses a tributary stream on rocks (with a log bridge provided if the water is high), and reaches a junction with the white-blazed Posts Brook Trail. The Hewitt-Butler Trail and Highlands Trails leave to the left, but you should continue ahead on the white trail, which closely parallels the brook.

Soon, the trail reaches the top of Chikahoki Falls and descends to the brook, with a good view of the falls. The trail closely parallels the brook for a short distance, then bears left and heads uphill, away from the brook. After a while, it again descends to the brook and passes through an area with a thick understory of ferns.

A short distance beyond, you'll come to a junction with the Lower Trail, blazed with a black "L" on white. Turn left and follow the Lower Trail a short distance to a junction with the yellow-blazed Carris Hill Trail. Turn left again, now following the yellow blazes.

After traversing a level, rocky area, the Carris Hill Trail crosses a stream and begins a rather steep climb. The grade soon moderates, but after a third of a mile, it again climbs steeply over rocks, reaching a viewpoint to the southeast from a rock outcrop just to the right of the trail. The trail continues to climb to another rock outcrop, with a broader view. Here, it bears right and ascends to the left of a 40-foot-high massive rock face.

At the top of the ascent, a short detour to the right leads to a magnificent viewpoint to the east. The Wanaque Reservoir, contained by the Raymond, Wolf Den and Green Swamp dams, is in the foreground, with the Ramapo Mountains beyond, and a long viaduct of I-287 visible to the right. On a clear day, the New York City skyline may be seen on the horizon. This is a good place to pause and enjoy the spectacular view.

The yellow trail now climbs more gradually, soon reaching another viewpoint (partially blocked by trees), with a ten-foot-high balanced glacial erratic silhouetted against the sky. The trail curves to the right and proceeds through laurel and blueberry bushes to reach a fifth viewpoint, this one to the south, with pitch pines and a large glacial erratic. It continues through laurel and blueberry bushes to end, on a rock outcrop with views to the north and west, at a junction with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail.

Continue ahead (do not turn left), now following blue and teal diamond blazes, and descend steeply toward a sign for "Weis." The trail continues to descend through mountain laurel thickets, climbs a little, then descends gradually, heading north along the ridge. In about half a mile, you'll reach a rock outcrop with a view ahead of Wyanokie High Point - a rocky dome with pitch pines. This location is known as "Yoo-Hoo Point."

The joint Hewitt-Butler/Highlands Trail now descends to a junction, where the red-on-white-blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail joins. Continue ahead, now following the route of three trails, and soon begin a rather steep climb.

At the next junction, turn right, following the sign to "Hi-Point," and climb steeply, following the red-on-white blazes of the Wyanokie Circular Trail and the teal diamond blazes of the Highlands Trail. In a short distance, you'll reach the summit of Wyanokie High Point, which features a panoramic 360° view amid pitch pines. To the north and west, you can see Saddle, Assiniwikam and Buck Mountains, and the New York City skyline is visible to the east on a clear day.

After spending some time savoring the view, retrace your steps, following the red-and-white and teal diamond blazes as they descend very steeply over bare rock. Extreme care is required here if the rocks are wet. When you reach the junction with the Hewitt-Butler Trail, turn right and follow the blue blazes. After a short, gradual climb, the trail reaches a balanced boulder on a rock ledge. It then descends briefly through laurel thickets to a junction with the white-blazed Macopin Trail.

Turn left and follow the Macopin Trail, which descends through laurel and blueberry bushes. In half a mile, it crosses a stream and ends at a junction with the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail. Turn left onto the Otter Hole Trail, which climbs on a woods road.

Near the top of the climb, the red-on-white-blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail crosses. Turn left onto the Wyanokie Circular Trail, which ascends on a footpath through dense mountain laurel thickets. At the crest of the rise, a large boulder marks a trail junction. Here, the red-on-white blazes turn left, but you should bear right, now following the orange blazes of the Outlaw Trail, which begins here.

The Outlaw Trail heads across the level ridge and ends in a quarter of a mile at a junction with the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail. Turn right and follow this trail, which descends through a second-growth forest of deciduous trees.

In a third of a mile, after a short climb, the trail emerges at a viewpoint that overlooks Buck Mountain to the west. The trail now descends through dense laurel thickets, crosses a stream on rocks and reaches a junction with the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail.

Turn left onto the Otter Hole Trail (also the route of the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail), which follows a pleasant woods road. After a steady descent, you'll reach a T-intersection with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail. Turn right here, now retracing your steps, and follow the Hewitt-Butler Trail across Posts Brook at the Otter Hole and back to the parking area where the hike began.

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

Challenging and enjoyable

We parked and entered by Otter Hole, went to the falls, found the yellow trail to the top of Carris Hill, then took the Highland Trail from the top, then back to the parking lot. Steep and rough in some parts. Challenging and enjoyable. Near the top of the yellow there is a great view over the reservoir. Then if you take the teal diamond to the left, heading toward the parking and skipping Wyanokie High Point, there are some large rock expanses with a view to the uninhabited west. All in all, many great lunch/dinner spots before heading back to the car. Great stretches of picturesque trail with laurel, blueberry, fern and rock. The only tricky spot was finding the bottom of the yellow trail. The trick is to follow the white L blazes for about 40 yards to another sign for the yellow trail. The altitude change involved giving up a lot of height from the parking to the base of the hill, then gunning it to the top, then descending back into the ditch then marching back up to the car. According to Garmin Basecamp: the parking lot is 1100 feet then down to 700 then up the hill to 1300 then down to 800 then back up to the parking lot at 1100. Next time I would start earlier to allow more time to sit at the top.

Great Day's Hiking

I am visiting from The Netherlands and found myself at a loose end this weekend so I thought I would try to see if I would be able to do some hiking. I was very pleasantly surprised.The directions on the website are excellent and I got round the route with no problems at all. The views were outstanding and the trails are really well managed - with even little red ribbons to show where there are diversions. I hope that you people realise that your work is appreciated and that it allows all kinds of people to experience the pleasures of this spectacular part of the world.I managed a coupe of little add-ons:-I spent some time watching the heron which lives in the lake/swamp next to the car park.I drove up the road for a couple of miles to Lindy's pool and got to swim in a beautiful freshwater lake.   All the best from the low countries   LR 

Amazing hike but got lost!

This was just what i wanted deep in the woods away from cars and roads. I love waterfalls and rivers in my hikes so it was perfect. But coming down from  the summit of Wyanokie High Point with the 360 degree view we got lost. We followed  the red-and-white and teal diamond blazes till the we reached the bottom but we never saw  the junction with the Hewitt-Butler Trail to turn right and follow the blue blazes. Instead we came to fork were we had a choice of the red-and-white and teal diamond blaze and a white blaze wiith an arrow. So we followed the white but came back to see were we made the mistake but then again we began to follow the white and we reached the yellow and Lower trail. Its now 7:30pm phone is dead hahaha. Finally we saw "OH PRKNG" and followed to the blue to my car! Was so happy. Im not sure where i went wrong and if we missed a turn since we were just looking down and carefully coming down from Wyanokie High Point.  I love this site and you guys are doing a great job guiding us thru! But i wonder sincr im new to hiking is there another way maybe a gps app that can guide me? Because i miss a lot of the whole feel of nature because im so concentrated on reading to make sure I dont end up stranded. If not its fine ill keep reading no worries. Thanks! 

Your hike

I think I know where you made a mistake.  The hike directions state:  "After spending some time savoring the view, retrace your steps, following the red-and-white and teal diamond blazes as they descend very steeply over bare rock."  I suspect that rather than "retracing your steps," you continued ahead on the Wyanokie Circular/Highlands Trail.  That would explain how you ended up on the Lower Trail.  Had you retraced your steps, you would have arrived at the junction with the Hewitt-Butler Trail.

Thank you. I did kinda

Thank you. I did kinda figure that's where we went wrong. Thanks!

Here are the Coordinates

41.045837,-74.350383

Here are the Coordinates

Thank you. They have been added to the hike description.   Ken

Excellent Hike!

My husband and I did this in early February 2012 and it was excellent.  Beautiful views and waterfalls, a nice combination of stiff up and down with flatter areas.  Saw practically no one all day.  Would probably be very beautiful in the spring when the mountain laurel is in bloom.  There are many stream crossings which could be difficult or impossible if there was more water.

I hiked this trail twice in October 2010

I enjoyed this hike so much, I went back the following week! The fall colors and views from Wyanokie High Point were amazing. You can also walk this hike in a clockwise direction from Otter Hole, cooling your feet at the base of Chikahoki Falls like we did in this video.