Rocky Ridge/Old Cedar Trail/Backslope Loop in Campgaw Mountain County Reservation

Overview

This loop hike climbs to the summit of Campgaw Mountain, with a panoramic view over Bergen County, and loops around the western slope of the mountain.

Details
Time:
2.5 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
4 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Bergen
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
11/06/2003

Updated/Verified:
10/03/2013
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 (County Route 3). Follow Pulis Avenue for 1.4 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 large 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 utility 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). You’ll be following the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail for the first part of the hike.

Almost immediately, the Rocky Ridge Trail turns left, leaving the gravel road. Follow this blue-blazed trail, which proceeds through a wooded area, passes to the right of a park building, and crosses under high-voltage power lines. At a yellow gate, follow the blue blazes as the Rocky Ridge Trail descends to cross the red-on-white-blazed Old Cedar Trail. After passing a swampy area to the left, the Rocky Ridge Trail ascends along the wide route of an abandoned bobsled run. Halfway up the hill, you’ll notice (on the right) old machinery formerly used to make snow for the bobsled run.

In about half a mile, as it approaches the ridge, the Rocky Ridge Trail bears right and climbs steeply on switchbacks. At the crest of the ridge, it briefly joins the Old Cedar Trail. Just ahead, the trails split. Here, you should turn left and follow the red-on-white blazes of the Old Cedar Trail, which begins to descend. After leveling off and winding along the backslope of Campgaw Mountain, it again climbs to the summit ridge.

As it nears the crest of the ridge, the Old Cedar Trail crosses two stone walls. Just beyond, a building at the top of the ski area may be seen through the trees on the right. Here, the orange-diamond-blazed Backslope Trail begins on the left, and the yellow-blazed Indian Trail comes in from the right. Turn right and follow the Indian Trail for 500 feet to 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 a portion of the Manhattan skyline may be visible to the far right on a clear day. This is a good place to take a break.

When you’re ready to continue, retrace your steps along the yellow trail to the junction. Here, you should bear left onto the orange-diamond-blazed Backslope Trail, which descends the western slope of the mountain. Just beyond a shagbark hickory tree, the trail turns sharply right at a large fractured boulder and continues to descend. After briefly leveling off, it passes a large stone foundation on the left. This is actually an old cistern, which once served as the water supply for a home below. A short distance beyond, the trail switchbacks to the left and resumes its descent.

At the base of the descent, you'll notice another old stone cistern (this one is usually filled with water) just below the trail, with Ramapo Valley Road visible beyond through the trees. Here, the Backslope Trail ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Indian Trail. Turn right and continue on the Indian Trail, which begins a steady climb towards the summit of the mountain. On the way, you’ll go through a narrow passage between two huge trees that fell in opposite directions, pass an interesting misshapen tree, go under a large, live tree that arches over the trail, and pass a huge oak tree with four trunks.

At the top of the climb, you’ll reach a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Old Cedar Trail. Turn left and follow the Old Cedar Trail as it curves to the east and descends gradually, passing through an area where many trees were felled by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. 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. The Old Cedar Trail turns left and crosses Fyke Brook on a wooden bridge. It then curves right and gradually ascends to reach a junction with the white-blazed Dogwood Lane Trail.

Turn right, and follow the joint Old Cedar/Dogwood Lane Trail, which parallels a stone wall to the left. After crossing the paved ski area access road, it follows a wide path parallel to the park entrance road, with Fyke Pond visible through the trees on the right. In about 500 feet, you’ll reach a complex trail junction. Turn sharply left here and follow the white-blazed Dogwood Lane Trail for 300 feet to the park entrance road, where the Dogwood Lane Trail ends and the pink-blazed Gray Birch Trail begins. Continue across the road to the main parking area and turn right to reach the southern end of the parking area where you began the hike.

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VIrtual Tour of Campgaw County Reservation!

Check out a virtual tour of Campgaw County Reservation at NJUrbanForest.com! http://njurbanforest.com/2015/07/05/hiking-campgaw-mountain/ Plenty of Pictures!!!!

Don't Miss Right Turn on Backslope Trail

Look carefully for the orange blazes on the Backslope Trail where it turns right just in front of the fractured boulder.  We missed the turn, went straight down the hill on a wide unmaintained (abandoned?) trail that still has faded blazes marked on trees.  When we reached a signpost for the Mt. Carmel at the bottom of that hill, we realized the error and retraced our steps to the boulder.

Great hike!

Highly recommend this trail! Very well marked and fun sharing the hike with all the deer.