Old Cedar Trail Loop in Campgaw Mountain County Reservation

Overview

This loop hike climbs gradually to the summit of Campgaw Mountain, with a sweeping view of Bergen County and the New York City skyline.

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Easy to Moderate
Length:
3.3 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Bergen
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
11/21/2002

Updated/Verified:
08/04/2016
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Campgaw Mountain Reservation in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.055566,-74.189722
Driving Directions

Take N.J. Route 208 to the Summit Avenue exit in Franklin Lakes. Turn left at the end of the ramp, following the sign for Franklin Lakes. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Franklin Avenue. Continue to the following traffic light, and turn right onto Pulis Avenue. Follow Pulis Avenue for 1.5 miles and turn left onto Campgaw Road. In about a mile and a half, you’ll pass the Law and Public Safety Institute and the entrance road to the Darlington Golf Course on the right. Just beyond, turn left onto the entrance road leading into Campgaw Mountain County Reservation, which crosses over I-287. When you reach a fork in the road after 0.4 mile, bear left and continue for another 0.2 mile, then turn left and park at the southern end of the main parking area, near a portable restroom.

Description

From the southern entrance to the parking area, proceed west, crossing the park entrance road. You’ll notice three yellow blazes and three blue blazes on a pole to the right of a chained-off gravel road. These blazes mark the start of the Indian Trail (yellow) and the Rocky Ridge Trail (blue).

The Rocky Ridge Trail immediately goes off to the left, but you should continue ahead along the gravel road, following the yellow blazes of the Indian Trail. You’ll soon cross under high-voltage power lines and go around a yellow steel gate.

About 500 feet from the start, you’ll notice three red-on-white blazes on either side of the trail, which mark the start and end of the Old Cedar Trail. Turn left, leaving the gravel road, and follow the red-on-white blazes. The Old Cedar Trail now proceeds through an oak-beech forest, passing a park building to the left. It soon crosses the wide route of the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail, continues through a low area, and recrosses under the power lines.

After crossing the park entrance road diagonally to the right, the Old Cedar Trail proceeds between the park entrance road on the right and I-287 on the left. It crosses several wet areas on wooden bridges and goes over an old stone wall. The Old Cedar Trail then loops back to recross the paved road diagonally to the right. Just beyond, it goes over a stream on a wooden footbridge. After a short climb, it again passes under the power lines.Bergen County From Top of Ski Slope. Photo by Daniel Chazin.  

A short distance beyond, the green-blazed Beeches Trail proceeds straight ahead, but you should turn left, continuing to follow the red-on-white blazes of the Old Cedar Trail. You’ve now left the developed portion of the park, and the trail begins a steady, gradual ascent. It bears right to cross a stream on rocks and then turns left to parallel it. Soon, the trail bears right, away from the stream, and continues its winding, gentle ascent.

Near the crest of the ridge, the Silver Trail (silver-on-white blazes) begins on the left. Bear right to continue on the Old Cedar Trail, which continues to climb more gradually. In 500 feet, the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail briefly joins from the right. When the two trails diverge, proceed straight ahead, now following the Rocky Ridge Trail along the ridgeline. After passing several tees and yellow-rimmed metal baskets for disc golf, you’ll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Indian Trail in a stand of cedar trees. 

Turn left, now following both blue and yellow blazes along the edge of the woods. In another 250 feet, you’ll reach a tree with a triple blue blaze, which marks the end of the Rocky Ridge Trail. Continue ahead, across the open area, to reach an expansive east-facing viewpoint at the top of the ski slope. To the left are the hills of Harriman Park, and in the center is northern Bergen County, with Mahwah in the foreground. The Palisades can be seen on the horizon, and the Manhattan skyline is visible to the right on a clear day. This is a good place to take a break.

After you’ve rested a little and enjoyed the view, return to the trail on the west side of the clearing (a triple-blue blaze is visible from the viewpoint). Turn right and continue along the yellow-blazed Indian Trail, which heads northwest.

In another 300 feet, you’ll reach a complex junction with the red-on-white-blazed Old Cedar Trail and the orange-blazed Backslope Trail. Turn right and rejoin the Old Cedar Trail, which curves to the east and descends gradually. In about half a mile, it reaches the northwest corner of the large parking lot for the ski area. The trail turns left and follows the stone curbing along the edge of the parking lot and the entrance road.

Just before the merge of the exit road from the parking lot, the trail bears left, reenters the woods, and descends along the hillside. It turns left and crosses Fyke Brook on a wooden bridge. The Old Cedar Trail then curves left, bears right, and gradually ascends to reach a junction with the white-blazed Dogwood Lane Trail.

Turn left at this junction and follow the white-blazed Dogwood Lane Trail for about 500 feet to its terminus, by an old stone wall. Continue ahead on the pink-blazed Gray Birch Trail, which follows a level path through the woods. After crossing the park entrance road, you'll reach a fork, at which you should bear right. In about a third of a mile, the trail reaches the northern end of the main parking area. Turn left and proceed to the southern end of the parking area, where the hike began.

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

Very Nice Hike

Trails were well maintained and easy to follow, climb was gradual, not too steep. Hiked today, 3/12/16, 65 degrees with no snow on the trail, but surprised to see people skiing at the top on man-made snow. The hike matched perfectly with the above hike description and the Trail Conference North Jersey map. 

Very Rocky!

I hiked the red-on-white blazed trail today (which is apparently this one), and while the going is swift for the first mile in either direction, the back third of the trail is really rocky. And not "hopping from rock to rock like a dry creek bed" rocky, or even gravel, but the worst kind - densely spaced medium sized rocks with points and sharp ridges, which forces you to pick your way through like a pack mule. Walking parallel to the trail is not good either, since the rocks are still numerous and covered by leaves and grass. I can't imagine trying to hike this when all the leaves are on the ground.   It's cool if that's what you're into, but I prefer a little smoother dirt track, which allows me to take in the beauty of the woods around me, rather than worrying about turning an ankle. So if you're hoping to get a good rhythm going, you might want to find a different trail. 

View from top of Ski Slope

At the top of the Ski Slope, looking east you will see some tall buildings in the distance --- that is the skyline of White Plains, NY which is about 25 miles away.

correcting hike directions

"the Indian Trail ends at a junction with the Old Cedar Trail.  Turn right and rejoin the Old Cedar Trail which curves to the east" should be "following the junction of the Indian Trail and the Old Cedar Trail, the Indian Trail turns left, but you should proceed straight ahead on the Old Cedar Trail, which curves to the east...".

Great directions/detail with one important exception

Did this hike today and enjoyed the pleasant gradual ups and downs. Good views from the top of Campgaw. Just one IMPORTANT detail: Near the end of the hike after you get on the pink-blazed Gray Birch trail, you will indeed cross the park entrance road, but once over, the trail (marked by pink blazes) goes either right or left. Go RIGHT to follow the pink blazes to the parking lot.