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.

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

Daniel Chazin


Cascade along Lake Sonoma Trail. Photo by Daniel Chazin.


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

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.

Lake Sonoma. Photo by Daniel Chazin.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 View from Overlook Rock. Photo by Daniel Chazin.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.

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

Bear Right at the Four Yellow Blazes

My wife and I much enjoyed this hike on a sunny September day.  We found the driving directions and the trail description to be quite accurate.  The trail head is easy to spot and there is plenty of parking space on this unbuilt section of residential road.  This is a moderate hike, with a few minor steeps and some rocky spots, but my inexperienced spouse handled all with no trouble. We caution others to pay close attention at the split in the yellow blaze trail.  You will see four blazes as described, one pair indicating left and the other indicating a right turn.  We did note that subsequent single blazes for the right hand trail are not easy to spot and the trail in that direction was not very well worn, either.  However, if you pay close attention and follow the right hand footpath, you'll be rewarded soon enough with a nice view of Lake Sonoma.  On the return loop, we met a family that started their hike in the mid-afternoon and they missed this turn, ending up following this hike in reverse - hope they got out before dark. We were also thankful for the warning from a friendly hiker of a mother bear and her cub being in the vicinity.  We did not spot any bear, but we were a bit bothered by a large barking dog that appeared at the top of an adjacent slope where the park must border private property. The best part of this hike was the view from Overlook Rock - a view of green hills near and far barely spoiled by only a hint of a few scattered residential roofs. We look forward to hiking this loop again when the various streams and the cascade are running.

It appears that the Yellow trail got re-routed

Heading east on the Yellow trail (Manaticut Point Trail) from Manaticut Point back toward Crescent Drive, the trail now re-joins the its "northern branch" about 1/3 mile away from the trailhead rather than dropping down to Crescent Drive.   So if you're following the above route description, be aware that about 1/3 mile from the trailhead, you'll come to a place that the Yellow Trail splits.  To follow this loop counter-clockwise, you need to stay right at the fork.    I hope this makes sense.    Although it's hot today, this trail is mostly shady.  But the only water is at Lake Sonoma.  Doggie and got home with no ticks - at least none that I've found so far!

Hike has been updated

The hike has been updated to include the recent reroute of the eastern end of the Manaticut Point Trail, which you describe in your comment.  Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

hunters along the trail..

Hiked this on 1/2/15 and ran into a hunter sitting in a tree blind along the Hewitt-Butler trail just before the private pond/gazeebo. Not sure if he was on the private property or not but still kinda scary. I'm buying a blaze orange hat for my next hike !! Recommend all winter hikers do the same during  hunting season !

Great mix of terrain

Great hike, moderate difficulty sounds about right, has secluded lake sonoma, great views from different points throughout the hike with the best being Overlook, several rock scrambles, swamp land, stream crossings, it was a great mix of terrain in a not-so-long hike. While it was almost december it was unseasonably warm so the ticks were out in force and we didnt bring any deet. The trail seemed unpopular so the tall grass on the trail made a great jumping off point for the little buggers. Our clothes were covered and i had to pull 4 out from my legs with tweezers. Not fun. Moral of the story, be prepared. The link is to a map we made using the Google Tracks App.

Wonderful Hike

Did this hike last weekend. Very enjoyable walk with outstanding view from Overlook Rock. Lake Sonoma is also a nice place to stop and contemplate the state of the world we live in. Noticed some recent mountain biking activity on white trail but not too bad. A big thank you to the TC volunteers who built  and now maintain these  trails!