Loop Hike to Ridge Overlook

Overview

This hike loops around Scarlet Oak Pond, climbs to the Ridge Overlook, and skirts the MacMillan Reservoir

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Easy to Moderate
Length:
3.1 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Bergen
State:
NJ
Maps/Books
Buy Trail Map:

Publication
First Published:
09/08/2016
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.077928,-74.186575
Driving Directions
Take N.J. Route 17 to U.S. Route 202 in Mahwah. Turn left at the bottom of the ramp, proceed south on Route 202 for two miles, and turn right into the Ramapo Valley County Reservation parking area. 
Description

This hike climbs to the Ridge Overlook on a moderate route, offering hikers the opportunity to reach this viewpoint, as well as the scenic MacMillan Reservoir, without any steep climbing.

The hike begins at a kiosk in the southwest corner of the parking area. Just ahead, you'll notice a triple-yellow blaze on a tree, which marks the start of the Vista Loop Trail. Follow the yellow blazes as they descend wooden steps, join a wide dirt road, and continue ahead to cross the Ramapo River on a steel truss bridge.

Just beyond the bridge, bear right at the fork and begin to follow the silver-on-white-blazed Pond Trail, a wide dirt path which loops around the northern end of Scarlet Oak Pond. Af first, the trail runs between the pond, on the left, and the Ramapo River, on the right. After passing the northeastern end of the pond, the trail bears left, and it again curves to the left at the northwestern end of the pond.

You’ll soon notice a footbridge on the right. Here, the Pond Trail ends, and you should continue ahead on the wide path, now following the yellow blazes of the Vista Loop Trail. At the next intersection, the Vista Loop Trail bears left, but you should bear right and follow the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail, which begins here.

The Ridge Loop Trail climbs gradually on the main park road. In a third of a mile, you’ll reach a fork where the blue blazes head in both directions. Bear right and continue to follow the Ridge Loop Trail, which heads uphill on a footpath. Just ahead, the blue blazes turn left onto a woods road, which ascends on a slightly steeper grade.

After curving to the left, the Ridge Loop Trail reaches a fork. Turn left here (following the sign for the “Overlook”) and follow the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail for about 200 feet. When the yellow blazes turn sharply right, continue ahead, following green-dot-on-yellow blazes a short distance to a panoramic southeast-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge. Campgaw Mountain may be seen in the foreground to the right, and the New York City skyline is visible in the distance on a clear day.

After taking in the view, retrace your steps to the yellow-blazed trail and turn left, following the trail as it descends steadily. Just before reaching a large pile of boulders, the trail turns right and climbs to a rocky outcrop, from which Matty Price Hill is visible ahead. The trail now descends towards the MacMillan Reservoir, passing another rocky outcrop (with a view of Matty Price Hill) along the way.

Soon, you’ll emerge on a large expanse of open rock that overlooks the reservoir. Here, the pink-blazed Reservoir Loop Trail begins on the right, but you should turn left and continue to follow the yellow blazes as they head southeast, parallel to the shore of the reservoir. You’ll pass the concrete dam at the southeast corner of the reservoir and continue downhill to reach a junction with the main park road, where the blue-blazed Ridge Trail comes in from the right.

Continue ahead and proceed downhill along the road, now following both blue and yellow blazes. When the trails diverge, bear left to stay on the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail. A short distance ahead, you’ll reach a junction where the blue blazes head both left and right. Here, you should bear right and follow the descending route of the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail. 

Near the base of the descent, the Ridge Loop Trail curves to the right, and it soon ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail. Proceed straight ahead on the wide park road, now following the Vista Loop Trail. The trail passes to the right of Scarlet Oak Pond, continues across the bridge over the Ramapo River, and ends at the parking area where the hike began.