Millstone Trail Short Loop

Overview

This loop hike traverses the historic Millstone Trail and runs along the shore of Todd Lake.

Details
Time:
2.5 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
3.8 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Bergen
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
03/13/2003

Updated/Verified:
01/11/2012
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Ramapo Mountains in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.047479, -74.251313
Driving Directions

Take I-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, opposite the entrance to Camp Tamarack.

Description

From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will see a triple orange blaze on a utility pole, marking the start of the Schuber Trail, as well as a triple while blaze, which marks the start of the Todd Trail). The Todd Trail will be your return route, but for now, follow the orange blazes of the Schuber Trail, which turn right onto the gravel road that leads into Camp Tamarack, then immediately turn left and proceed downhill on a winding footpath.

At the base of the descent, turn right at a T-intersection, then bear left just ahead, skirting the ruins of the former camp rifle range. The Schuber Trail now crosses a stream on cinder blocks, climbs over a knoll and descends to cross another stream on rocks.

About half an hour into the hike, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Millstone Trail near the crest of the rise. Turn right onto the Millstone Trail, which climbs to a narrow valley known as Rocky Slide Gulch. Here, it turns right, then curves left and continues to climb. After a relatively level section, it passes to the left of a huge boulder designated as “Sitting Hen Rock,” then bears right and resumes its ascent. Just beyond the crest of the hill, the trail reaches the Southwest Lookout.

From the lookout, the Millstone Trail bears left, descends slightly, then climbs to reach a balanced rock in an open area. A patch of prickly pear cactus, which blooms in early July, may be seen nearby. Again, the trail bears left and descends.  Soon, the Yellow Trail (marked with yellow diamond blazes) joins from the right and, in about 50 feet, both trails pass (on the right) several abandoned millstones in various stages of completion. This area was once the site of a millstone quarry, and the stones that you see were damaged during quarrying or abandoned when the quarry operation shut down. The yellow and white trails continue to descend on a winding footpath. After crossing an old woods road at a sign “HT 12,” you’ll notice a millstone in nearly perfect condition just to the right of the trail.

After examining this millstone, retrace your steps back to the junction of the Millstone and Yellow Trails, and bear left to continue on the Yellow Trail. (If you reach the paved access road to Camp Glen Gray, you've gone too far and should turn around and return to the junction.) The trail soon crosses several stone walls and begins a steady descent. On the way down, you can see the eastern ridge of the Ramapo Mountains through the trees, and the New York City skyscrapers may be visible on the horizon on a clear day.

Towards the base of the descent, the trail bears right and traverses a rocky area. It descends to cross a stream on rocks (with an attractive cascade to the right), then climbs to another stream and bears left to cross it.

The trail now climbs steadily. At the top of the rise, a municipal water tower may be seen just ahead. After passing a limited seasonal viewpoint over Todd Lake from a rock ledge on the left, the trail descends to the lake. It passes another ledge at water level, with a view over the lake, and continues to parallel the lake. Near the lake’s south end, the Yellow Trail turns right and soon ends at a woods road, the route of the white-blazed Todd Trail.

Turn right, now following the white blazes. After another woods road joins from the left, the Todd Trail turns left and follows a footpath into the woods. It soon starts to climb, first rather steeply, then more gradually, descends to a shallow ravine, and ascends on a winding, rocky footpath, with several switchbacks. When it reaches Skyline Drive, the trail turns right and continues for about 200 feet to the triple white blaze marking the terminus of the Todd Trail, opposite the parking area where the hike began.

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

Awesome Hike!! However..

I had an amazing time doing this hike! However, I ended up somewhat devising my own way back to my car. Perhaps something has been reblazed or changed since the first posting? I found it hard to follow shortly after seeing the millstone. I ended up climbing all the way up to the intersection between the Yellow-Silver/Orange/Yellow near Camp Glen Gray before realizing I had definitely messed up and gone too far. We ended up taking orange back, briefly on the unmaintained trail nearby through the Camp, and then Old Guard to White to Orange back to the car. It was absolutely beautiful and I loved  all of it (found a geocache too!) but we definitely didn't get back until dark. Any tips to prevent this mistake next time? Thanks again for all your trail information!! We use your hikes all the time! :)

Your hike

From the description of where you ended up, it sounds like you must have continued ahead on the Yellow Trail past the millstones.  The hike directions state that, after visiting the millstones, you should "retrace your steps back to the junction of the Millstone and Yellow Trails, and bear left to continue on the Yellow Trail."  Did you "retrace your steps"?  If you did, you would not have reached the intersection of the Yellow, Orange and Yellow-Silver Trails.  Perhaps I should add that if you cross the paved access road to Camp Glen Gray, you've gone too far.  Would this have helped?

Ah-ha!

See, I figured that's where I went wrong too! I definitely think adding the "do not cross the access road" would be a huge help. I was confused seeing the Yellow Diamond blazes at the same time as the normal White ones and kept thinking I was where I was supposed to be (after crossing the access road and two wooden bridges). I think my main problem was finding the original junction of both trails...something I'll definitely keep my eyes out for next time. Thank you so much for the quick response and all the help! Regardless of the detour, it was a beautiful hike nonetheless! And I got to see a part of Ramapo I had never been to before! Thank you!

Hike description has been updated

As you can see, I have amended the hike description to include the warning that if you've reached the paved access road to Camp Glen Gray, you've gone too far and need to go back.  I understand that others have made the same mistake as you did, so hopefully the cautionary language may alert them that they should not continue any further. Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention!