Castle Point Trail - Short Loop

Overview

This loop hike runs along the shore of scenic Ramapo Lake and climbs to the ruins of an old stone castle and tower, with panoramic views.

Details
Time:
2.5 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
3 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Bergen, Passaic
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
03/24/2006

Updated/Verified:
08/19/2013
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin
See also
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.047479, -74.251313

Driving Directions

Take Interstate Route 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.

Description

At the northwest end of the parking area, opposite the entrance to Camp Tamarack, you will see a yellow blaze of the Hoeferlin Memorial Trail, as well as a triple red/white blaze, which marks the terminus of the Skyline Connector Trail. You will be returning to the parking area on the Skyline Connector Trail, but the Hoeferlin Trail will be your route for the first part of the hike.

Head into the woods and immediately turn left, following the yellow blazes, then bear right onto a footpath parallel to a gravel road. After passing a small pond to the right, follow the yellow blazes as they briefly turn right onto the road (this portion of the road is paved), then turn left onto another woods road. After passing an interesting rock outcrop on the right, you’ll come to a Y-intersection, where the yellow-blazed trail bears right and begins to descend.

Soon, the gravel road briefly reappears to the right, but bear left to stay on the yellow-blazed trail, which follows a rocky woods road over undulating terrain. The road eventually narrows to a footpath and crosses an intermittent stream. After descending on a winding route and once again briefly approaching the gravel road, the Hoeferlin Trail heads down to a woods road – the route of the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail. Turn right, now following both yellow and blue blazes. Soon, the trail bears left and descends a short pitch to a 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, following the blue blazes of the MacEvoy Trail. The MacEvoy Trail follows a gravel road along the northeast shore of the lake, passing a private home on the right and then 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, 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’ll 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 another 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 briefly turns left onto a woods road, then immediately turns right just before reaching the route of a gas pipeline. It turns right again onto a woods road, turns left onto a footpath before reaching a wide gravel road, then turns right and follows the gas pipeline for 350 feet. After turning right and leaving the pipeline, the trail crosses a stream and climbs, first gradually, then rather steeply through mountain laurel, to a rock ledge with a broad view. From the ledge, you may be able to see the stone tower you passed about half a mile back.

A short distance beyond, the Castle Point Trail reaches a paved road, with Skyline Drive just to the left. Here, the Castle Point Trail ends, and you turn right to continue along the Cannonball Trail (white-“C”-on-red blazes). The trail follows the road for 200 feet, then turns left onto a footpath through the woods. Soon, you’ll reach a junction where the red/white-blazed Skyline Connector Trail begins on the left. Turn left and follow this red/white trail along a footpath roughly parallel to Skyline Drive until you reach the parking area where the hike began.

Comments

Virtual Tour of Ramapo Mountain State Forest!

Check out a virtual tour of Ramapo Mountain State Forest on NJUrbanForest.com!

http://njurbanforest.com/2013/11/13/hiking-ramapo-mountain-state-forest/

Plenty of Pictures!!

Thank you for all of the

Thank you for all of the detail!  I printed this out and went with my family and we had such a nice time.  I think we missed a turn somewhere because it took us 4 hours total and according to our GPS we walked 5 miles, but we didn't mind.  This was our first time hiking and we are already looking for our next trail for next weekend! 

Very nice hike !

 Enjoyed this hike this weekend, just long enough & interesting  for a Sunday Afternoon.  Well blazed but one had to keep an eye out for the sharp turns.  The parking lot was full but we only saw a few people on the trail.

 

updated description 6/17/2012

Did this hike today, really liked it.  Took just over 2 hours, and that included a some time exploring the mansion ruins and a few other stops here and there.  

A couple of things to note...I always print these narratives and bring it with me on my hike so I know what to expect and look out for.  In the 3rd paragraph, you can delete the sentence that says "Eventually, the yellow blazes turn right, leaving the road...."  because that just doesn't make sense with what is actually there.  At that point you will see the road on your right, and you will bear left and follow the yellow blazes and walk over the "undulating terrain".  Eventually pass the small stream.  You will be on the yellow Hoeferlin trail for quite a while, (it is not a woods road, it is a trail) and we did not see any blue blazes at all, only yellow.  The first blue blazes we saw were at the end of the 3rd paragraph where it says "the trail bears left and descends a short pitch to a paved road".  So, don't be alarmed if you're not seeing any blue, just keep going on the yellow.

In the second to last paragraph, the Castle Point trail turns sharply right and descends into the woods just before the gas pipeline.  There are no white blazes untl about 50-75 yards down the trail.  Also, It does not join the woods road.  What happens is that you will come to a point where you will see the woods road about 20' in front of you, but you will also see a post with white blazes and a trail that bears to the left.  You want to bear left at the post, don't go to the road.  Eventually you will meet up with the gas pipeline and follow that for the 350 feet. 

This was a nice, quick hike.  Perfect for a day when you get a late start or have limited time.  I will definitely do this one again.  

Your comments on the hike

Thanks very much for your comments!  As you will note, I most recently redid this hike this past February, and I believe that my description is still accurate.  However, the appearance of trails does change from time to time.  I plan on going back soon and rechecking the hike -- which, by the way, is one of my favorites.  I'll then make any changes to the description that I think would be necessary or helpful.  I've also alerted the maintainer of the Castle Point Trail, who is aware of your comments.

As for your comment that the trail does not join the woods road, the "woods road" that you are referring to is what I call, in the description, a "wide gravel road."  If you look at it this way, I believe that the description is correct.

Thanks Daniel, it was a great

Thanks Daniel, it was a great hike and I can see it being one of my faves as well.  I look forward to doing it again.  

great hike

Great Hike! Very well blazed. I've been to the lake marvolous. Any novice, pro, or a family outing. It's soo close to home and the city. It's great. Climb to the view of the wanaque res. best view I seen in this area of the park. "No need to drive to a view, just hike an extra few"