Ridge Loop Trail

Overview

This loop hike traverses lesser-used portions of the reservation, passing a scenic reservoir and a waterfall and climbing to an expansive viewpoint.

Details
Time:
3 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
4.1 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Bergen
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
12/26/2002

Updated/Verified:
08/28/2016
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Ramapo Valley County Reservation in a larger map

See also
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. Proceed south on Route 202 for two miles, then turn right into the Ramapo Valley County Reservation parking area.

Bus
Short Line offers bus service from Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City to Ramapo College, which is located about half a mile to the north of the park entrance on Route 202. For schedule information, go to www.shortlinebus.com. Only limited service is available on weekends.
Description

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.

In another 200 feet, the green-dot-on-orange-blazed River Trail begins on the left. Turn left, leaving the wide gravel road, and follow the River Trail along a narrower footpath.

Soon, the River Trail begins to run along the shore of the Ramapo River. Since the footpath is in the floodplain of the river, it may be muddy or even flooded in places when the water is high. After passing a small cascade, the trail bears right, away from the river, and soon ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail. Turn left onto the Vista Loop Trail and cross a stream on a wooden footbridge.

On the other side of the stream, you’ll notice a large pile of rubble. This is all that remains of a stone cabin, built by a camp that once operated on this property (the stone walls of the cabin were demolished in 2015). Here, the Vista Loop Trail turns right and begins a rocky climb along the stream. The trail briefly levels off, passing attractive cascades and pools in the stream on the right. After curving to the right, the Vista Loop Trail reaches a junction with the wide park road leading to the MacMillan Reservoir.

Follow the Vista Loop Trail as it turns left, joining the blue-blazed Ridge Trail, and continues along a paved section of the park road. A short distance ahead, the two trails diverge. The Vista Loop Trail continues ahead, but you should bear left to stay on the Ridge Loop Trail. Soon, the trail passes to the left of the stone dam of the MacMillan Reservoir. You’ve gone a little over a mile from the start, and this is a good place to take a break.

Continue heading uphill along the blue-blazed Ridge Trail. You'll notice triple-red and triple-pink blazes on the sides of the trail, but stay on the blue-blazed Ridge Trail. In a third of a mile, the red-blazed Marsh Loop Trail crosses. Continue ahead on the blue-blazed Ridge Trail, which crosses a stream, descends a little, and levels off. In 750 feet, you’ll reach a fork in the road. Here, the Red-Silver Trail begins on the left, but you should take the right fork, continuing to follow the blue-blazed Ridge Trail.

The Ridge Trail continues to descend. After crossing a stream and its tributary, it ascends gradually, levels off, and descends a rocky section of the road to cross another small stream. The trail now begins a steady climb, which is gradual at first, but soon steepens. As it nears the crest of the rise, the trail bends sharply to the right and levels off, continuing along the ridge. Rocky Mountain and Drag Hill are visible through the trees to the right (when there are no leaves on the trees).

After another short climb, you’ll reach a junction where the Ridge Trail turns right, leaving the road. Follow the blue blazes, which continue on a footpath. (Straight ahead, the road is marked with the purple blazes of the Havemeyer Trail). Soon, the trail reaches an exposed rock ledge, where it bears left and continues over undulating terrain.

In about half a mile, at the top of a short climb, you’ll begin to a parallel a stone wall to thHikers Viewing Campgaw Mountain. Photo by Daniel Chazin.e left. The trail then descends to reach another woods road, the route of the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail. Turn right, now following both blue and yellow blazes, and follow the road downhill. In another 500 feet, the yellow blazes turn right. Turn right and follow the yellow blazes for about 200 feet. When the yellow blazes turn sharply right, continue ahead for another 200 feet, following green-dot-on-yellow blazes to a viewpoint over the Ramapo Valley, with Campgaw Mountain visible in the foreground to the right. On a clear day, the Manhattan skyline is visible in the distance. After taking in the view, return to the junction of the yellow and blue trails, turn right onto the blue-blazed Ridge Trail, and descend on a wide, rocky path.

When you reach a fork, follow the blue blazes, which bear right and continue to descend to the main park road. Here, you should turn left and follow the Ridge Trail downhill along the park road. Near the base of the descent, the Ridge Trail curves to the right, and it soon ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail. Proceed straight ahead on the Vista Loop Trail, which 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.

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

Great hike, longer than expected

Really great hike with accurate directions and well-blazed trails. Very beautiful with the fall foliage. I tracked the distance with MapMyHike, however, and it registered 6.3 miles, not 4.5, and I never lost GPS reception. Certainly not complaining, I enjoyed every bit of it. Just wanted to throw out a word of caution for anyone who may find hikes over 5 miles to be too much. 

Re: longer than expected

Glad you had an enjoyable hike, especially with the foliage starting to turn in this area.Without knowing the specifics of your GPS device and its settings (I'm not sure how MapMyHike operates exactly), it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of error, but we are fairly confident of the 4.5 mileage for this hike loop based on a couple factors:
  1. Our Geographic Information System (GIS) database of trails, from which our maps are produced, is able to calculate straight-line and elevation-adjusted distances.  These GIS-derived distances match fairly closely with the 4.5 miles listed for this hike.
  2. GPS measurements are prone to a wide variety of errors.  GPS data can be extremely useful, and we use it to create our trail maps, but due to different kinds of technical issues/errors/settings, one should exercise some caution when referring to its data.  As a personal anecdote, I recently GPSed the same section of trail with two different GPS units, and after 5 miles, there was a 0.5 mile difference between the two!  Satellite configuration, amount of clear sky, GPS chipset, and configuration settings are likely the most common places where GPS error can be introduced.
So I'm not quite sure how an additional 1.8 miles of distance was incorporated into the GPS log of your MapMyHike app, but I'm guessing it is some combination of factors mentioned above.  However, thank you for commenting about this, as your word of caution allowed us to double-check the mileage number just to make sure.~JeremyTC Cartographer

I highly recommend this hike!

There were people everywhere at the beginning of the hike around the lake area, but once I made the left onto the Schuber Trail the crowds thinned out very quickly. The trail markings are excellent and the directions are precise. A Moderate rating seems accurate for this very enjoyable hike. There was one problem with a blow down on the Yellow-Silver Trail making it difficult to pass through and unlikely for someone not "flexible" to continue without some minor bushwacking. Below is a photo of this obstacle. This was the first time I was in the Reservation, but will not be my last. Ohh and by the way, the new trail conference headquarters looks fantastic. Kudos to the designers and workers who built it!

Public transit is available for this hike

This hike should be updated to reflect the fact that you can use public transit to reach the trailhead. There is a Shortline bus that goes from Port Authority to Ramapo College, and it's just a 15 minute walk from the college to the reservation. This is a great area to hike or run!!!

Short Line Bus to Ramapo College

Yes, you are correct that Short Line buses do provide service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Ramapo College, and I have updated the hike accordingly. It should be noted, however, that weekend service on this route is very limited.

Thanks!

Thanks Daniel- you're right, i realized i've only ever used this bus service during the week!

Sunday hike

 This was a very nice hike, well-marked, &  not too many people once you get away from the lakes.