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Lake Sonoma/Overlook Rock/Manaticut Point Short Loop from Crescent Drive
This loop hike goes by Lake Sonoma and climbs to Overlook Rock and several other panoramic viewpoints.
Allowed on leash
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Take Skyline Drive to its northwestern terminus at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County Route 511). Turn left and proceed south for 1.6 miles to West Brook Road. Turn right onto West Brook Road and cross the Wanaque Reservoir on a narrow causeway. At the next T-junction, turn left and proceed for 0.8 mile to Magee Road. Turn right onto Magee Road and take the first left onto Burnt Meadow Road. Continue for 0.9 mile and turn left at the second intersection with Crescent Drive. Continue for 0.2 mile until you reach a huge boulder on the right side of the road, just beyond a curve (this location is also marked by a sign placed by the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders). Park along the side of the road.
To the left of the boulder, you'll notice a triple yellow blaze that marks the start of the Manaticut Point Trail. Head into the woods on this trail. Soon, you'll cross two branches of a stream on rocks, with several abandoned sections of concrete pipe adjacent to the stream, and pass by a huge fractured rock. A short distance beyond, you'll cross another stream below an interesting V-shaped rock formation and continue uphill, parallel to the stream. You'll soon reach a junction where the yellow blazes head both to the left and to the right. The left branch of the trail will be your return route, but for now bear right and continue uphill.
About a mile from the start, the orange-blazed Lake Sonoma Trail joins from the right. The trails run jointly for a short distance, but when they diverge, you should continue ahead on the orange-blazed Lake Sonoma Trail, which descends to cross the inlet stream of Lake Sonoma at a woods road, immediately turns right, and soon reaches a viewpoint over the lake. The trail parallels the lake for a quarter mile but does not approach the lakeshore.
The Lake Sonoma Trail recrosses the woods road, briefly parallels a stream, then crosses it below an attractive cascade. It immediately turns sharply left, crosses another woods road, and begins a steady climb. At the top, it bears left, briefly descends, then turns sharply left at a switchback and climbs gently to reach a junction with the white-blazed Overlook Rock Trail, which joins from the right. When the trails diverge in 150 feet, follow the Lake Sonoma Trail as it makes a short, steep climb to its terminus at Overlook Rock - a massive exposed rock face with a panoramic east-facing view over Lake Sonoma and Windbeam, Bear and Board Mountains, with the Ramapo Mountains in the background. You've now gone about two miles from the start.
After taking in the view, descend from the rock and turn left onto the white-blazed Overlook Rock Trail. In half a mile, after crossing an intermittent stream and climbing gradually, you'll reach a junction (marked by a single cedar tree) with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail at a limited viewpoint to the southwest. The Overlook Rock Trail ends here, and you should turn left onto the blue-blazed trail.
The trail descends briefly, then climbs steeply to the crest of the ridge. It heads southeast along the ridge, passing a viewpoint to the right over Saddle Mountain and then descending gradually. At the base of the descent, there is a small pond on private property to the right.
After climbing through a cleft in the rock, you'll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Manaticut Point Trail, which comes in from the left. Follow the joint blue/yellow trail, which descends a little and then climbs steadily to a panoramic viewpoint from Manaticut Point - an open rock ledge (the best view is from the rock ledge just below the one traversed by the trail). Windbeam Mountain is directly ahead (east). To the south, you can see a quarry, with the New York City skyline visible on the horizon.
The trail now descends very steeply. Watch carefully for a double blaze painted on a rock, and follow the yellow and blue trails as they turn left and continue to descend more gradually. Just beyond, when the blue trail leaves to the right, proceed ahead on the yellow-blazed Manaticut Point Trail, which descends on a footpath. The trail soon bears left and climbs a little, goes through an interestng passage between rocks, then resumes a steady descent. After passing several rock formations on the left and crossing a stream, it reaches the junction where the loop of the Manaticut Point Trail begins. Bear right and follow the yellow blazes back to the trailhead on Crescent Drive, where the hike began.
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.