Eagle Rock Reservation Loop


This loop hike circles the reservation, following footpaths and unpaved roads, and reaches a panoramic viewpoint over the New York City skyline.

2 hours
3.5 miles
Route Type:
Allowed on leash
First Published:

Daniel Chazin


Along the Lenepe Trail. Photo by Daniel Chazin. Eagle Rock Reservation


View Eagle Rock Reservation in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
Driving Directions

Take the New Jersey Turnpike to Exit 15W (or take the Garden State Parkway South to Exit 145) and proceed west on I-280. Take Exit 8B and proceed north on Prospect Avenue for 0.3 mile. Turn right at the traffic light onto Eagle Rock Avenue, continue for 0.3 mile, and turn left at the sign for Eagle Rock Reservation. Follow the park access road to the parking area adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial at the Eagle Rock Lookout (if the parking spaces opposite the lookout are full, continue ahead to a nearby parking area).


This hike traverses the 408-acre Eagle Rock Reservation. The reservation is located in the center of densely populated Essex County, but it is mostly undeveloped and features an extensive trail system. The Olmsted Brothers, who designed Central Park in Manhattan, contributed to the design of the reservation. The footpaths and dirt roads followed by this hike have gentle grades, and the hike is suitable for novice hikers and families.

From the parking area, proceed ahead to the 9/11 Memorial. This beautiful and inspiring memorial to the tragic events of 9/11/01 is located at a panoramic viewpoint, from where the World Trade Center was visible. It affords a broad view over the New York City skyline, from the George Washington Bridge to the Verrazano-Narro9/11 Memorialws Bridge.

After taking some time to enjoy the view and contemplate the memorial, head north, towards the Highlawn Pavilion. Continue ahead under the awning of the pavilion and follow the service road that proceeds northward. At the next intersection, turn right and enter the woods on a footpath at a sign for the Lenape Trail.

The yellow-blazed Lenape Trail follows a wide path along the side of a hill, parallel to Crest Drive on the left. You’ll pass several outcrops of the basalt rock that is characteristic of the Watchung Mountains, on which the reservation is located. (There are three Watchung ranges; Eagle Rock Reservation is part of the First Watchung.) Unlike the New Jersey Highlands, which are made of sedimentary rocks, the Watchungs are composed of igneous rock, formed of intrusions of magma that rose to the surface through cracks in the earth. (The Palisades are formed of a slightly different type of igneous rock known as diabase, which cooled beneath the surface of the ground.)

In about half a mile, you’ll come to a fork, where you should bear left, continuing to follow the yellow blazes. Just beyond, the trail crosses Winding Way, a paved park road, diagonally to the right and continues along a chained-off dirt road. Here, a triple-blue blaze marks the start of the Blue Trail, and you follow both yellow and blue blazes along the road. Almost immediately, both trails bear right at a fork, and they bear right again at the next fork. At the following fork, where the two trails diverge, you should bear right to continue on the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail.Watchung Basalt Rock. Photo by Daniel Chazin.

After descending a little, the trail climbs past a large outcrop of Watchung basalt on the left. Then, after passing a green fence on the right, the trail emerges onto an open area, with a limited east-facing view from a rock outcrop at the edge of the escarpment. This spot is known as the North Lookout.

The Lenape Trail now bears sharply left and descends (do not follow an unmarked path that continues north onto private property; the correct trail route is plainly marked with yellow blazes). At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a wide park road (the Crest Trail) and continues ahead on another unpaved road.

At the next intersection, with a huge stone residence visible ahead to the right, the Lenape Trail continues straight ahead, but you should turn left onto a dirt road – the route of the red-blazed Walking Trail, which begins here. Soon, you’ll notice the intersection of Afterglow Avenue and Ravine Road on the right. Here, you turn left and continue along the red-blazed Walking Trail, with backyards of homes on the right.

Just past the last home, you’ll reach an intersection with the Blue Trail. Turn right onto the Blue Trail, which enters the woods on a footpath, together with the red-blazed Walking Trail. You’ll be following the Blue Trail for the next 1.3 miles.

After crossing a concrete culvert, you’ll reach a fork. Here, the red-blazed Walking Trail bears right, but you should bear left to continue on the Blue Trail. Soon, you’ll come to a switchback, where the trail makes two sharp bends – first to the right, then to the left – to gain a little elevation. After making a long loop and passing just above the switchback, the trail crosses a grassy road. It then goes around another loop and crosses a dirt road (known as the Broadwood Trail) diagonally to the left.

A short distance beyond, the Blue Trail descends, crossing an intermittent stream at the base of the descent. It passes a fenced-in enclosure on the right, crosses a white-blazed dirt road (the Stony Brook Trail) and soon joins another road (the Edgewood Trail), which descends slightly.

Crossing Stony BrookBe alert for a double blaze that marks the point where the Blue Trail turns left on a footpath, leaving the road. Continue to follow the Blue Trail, which soon arrives at another dirt road (the Crosswood Trail). The trail turns left onto the road to cross the Stony Brook on a stone-faced bridge, then immediately bears left onto a footpath, climbing gradually.

After crossing the dirt road, the Blue Trail climbs over exposed basalt outcrops to end at a junction with the yellow-blazed Lenape Trail. Turn left onto a grassy road, now following the yellow blazes, which soon bear right onto another grassy road (the Crosswood Trail).

A short distance ahead, the Lenape Trail reaches a paved park road. The trail turns left to follow the road, but you should cross the road and continue ahead across the lawn to reach the parking area where the hike began.

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

Great hike until the blue trail

I should never say to myself "wow this trail has so many markers!" because I always jinx myself. The directions above and the trail markers were great until I got to the blue trail. My first confusion was confirming that I was supposed to follow the trail at the last house. I don't know why but that tripped me up (maybe it had to do with the off-leash dog attacking my leashed dog). Once I started on the blue trail, I had very few problems (one downed tree made me search harder for the further marker) (switchbacks were also fine and clear) until I passed the stone bridge and ended up in a maze of trees where the trail bears left.  I felt so lost that I nearly started to panic (yes an overreaction, I could have just backtracked to the other trails or the street, but I wanted to continue on). In that area of mass trees, the trail is barely clear (at least in October with leaves everywhere) and there are several possible options of similar looking ground. There is no next blue marker in sight for a while. I made 4 wrong starts and needed to backtrack to the blue left turn marker to start over before I finally tredged ahead on the correct trail for a while (after pulling up Google maps and seeing that I would at least be heading towards a road) and I finally found the next blue marker. It was a very exciting moment for me. You may have heard me yell "BLUE!" :) After that the trail was again obvious with markers on both trees and rocks to help you navigate your way uphill along large flat rocks. I found the trail to be very clean with not much debris (if you see debris when hiking, how about you pick it up and throw it away!). The trails were rocky and I did turn my ankles a bit but I blame myself because I was only wearing sneakers (that I also used to hike Macchu Picchu) but I didn't have them tied tightly. None of my minor stumbles were enough for me to bother bending down and tying them better, so the rocks must not be that bad! On a Wednesday morning in October, there were not many people around and it was a peaceful and mostly enjoyable hike. Also, the views from the 9/11 memorial area are amazing even on an overcast day. They did a very nice job with the memorial. I even saw a big buck hanging out there.

My wife and I attempted the

My wife and I attempted the hike using the Record newspaper instructions and the conservancy map of Jan 09.  Some things stood out from the hike: 1.  The directions and the map got us scrambled when we reached the blue-trail switchbacks at the Broadwood Trail.  They really should ID the walking trails with their names to allow orientation.  We gave up and walked the Crest Trail to the Stony Brook Trail back to Kiosk 2, and then Crest Drive back to the origin. 2.  The reason we walked Crest Drive back to the monument was the horrid condition of the majority of the hiking trails selected.  There were stones littering the trails and we suggest that anyone who does the hike wear sturdy hiking shoes to prevent any sprained ankles.  And we suggest that any future hikes recommended should advise of any trail issues that would be dangerous or reduce any pleasure on the hike. BTW, I am a NYNJTC member.  

Your comments on the trails in Eagle Rock Reservation

I agree that the switchbacks on the blue trail can be a little confusing -- especially since the upper section of the loop nearly touches the lower loop at one point -- but I had no difficulty following the trail when I was there two weeks ago.  Also, I am not sure what your complaint is regarding "ID the walking trails with their names to allow orientation."  The names of all the trails are shown in the legend box on the Conservancy map. Regarding your comment on "the horrid condition of the majority of the hiking trails selected," with "stones littering the trails" -- all I can say is that there are stones on virtually all of the hiking trails maintained by the Trail Conference.  Hiking trails are not designed to be as smooth as sidewalks, and maintainers are neither required nor encouraged to remove all stones from their trails.  Having hiked many trails, I can say that the trails in Eagle Rock Reservation are in no worse condition in this regard than most other trails in the area -- and they may be in better condition that many others.  It is always a good idea to wear "sturdy hiking shoes" on any hike, although I should say that when I did this hike two weeks ago, I wore a pair of casual shoes with rubber soles and did not get a sprained ankle. And, yes, I agree that hike descriptions "should advise of any trail issues that would be dangerous or reduce any pleasure on the hike," but I can only say that, to my knowledge, there are no such special issues that need to be mentioned for this hike.  Yes, there are some stones on the trails in Eagle Rock Reservation, but there are stones on every hiking trail, and that is something that every hiker must be alert for on every hike.

Needs minor work.

Started on this hike this mornig with my wife.  A great hike overall, even if we did lose the trail. The newer map (see below) reflects the red blazes leading you left after the big stone house that were mentioned in an earlier post, but we had difficulty picking up the blazes at the intesection "just past the last home" .  I think we missed the foot trail turns entirely and just went ahead onto the Afterglow Bridal Trail, then made the first right, heading west then bending south again, on the Glen Bridal Trail, which we followed back to the memorial. There are a couple of large trees down on the route, most conveniently landed so you can walk under them.  Once or twice you have to leave the trail to go around them. The map on the Conservancy web page is from January 2009 and better than the one on the Essex County web page.  The better one (for now) is here: http://www.eaglerockreservation.org/ERRCMAP_Jan09.pdf

Trail description has been updated

I went back to Eagle Rock Reservation yesterday and rehiked the loop.  I have now updated the hike description by adding mention of the red-blazed Walking Trail, which was blazed sometime during the past five years.  As to the turn of the Blue Trail off of the Afterglow Bridle Trail, that turn is plainly marked, and I had no difficulty finding it yesterday.  Currently, there are no fallen trees that block the hike route described, but I did notice some fallen trees blocking park roads and bridle paths that are not followed by this hike. 

New blazes

We just did this hike today and it is a pleasant easy hike. In the description above it mentions that you stay on the yellow until seeing the big stone house where you should turn left onto an unmarked dirt path. It appears that the path has been blazed red. So follow yellow to red to blue then return to yellow as stated above. We had walked past this red trail because there was no mention of it above. It probably was not blazed when the directions were written. Other than that the directions were perfect. Have fun!

Never done exploring this place

I have lived in Essex county for almost 20 years and never tire of a hike here solo or with my family. There are rocks to climb, views of NYC, deer and other wildlife. Kids will enjoy the mysterious stick tee-pees peppered throughout the reservation. Best entry is on the service road north of the pavilion at the first bend in the road.