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Schuber/Yellow-Silver Trails Loop
This loop hike traverses lesser-used areas of the reservation, passing MacMillan Reservoir and attractive cascades, and climbs to a panoramic viewpoint over the Manhattan skyline.
Moderate to Strenuous
Allowed on leash
Views, Waterfall, Historic feature
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates41.077928,-74.186575
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.
BusShort Line offers bus service from Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City to Ramapo College, which is located about 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.
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 250 feet, the green-dot-on-orange-blazed River Trail begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the wide dirt road, following the southern shore of Scarlet Oak Pond (formerly the site of a gravel quarry).
At the end of the pond, you’ll notice two sets of double yellow blazes on a tree. Turn left here and continue to follow the yellow blazes for a quarter mile along another dirt road. After passing the start of the green-dot–on-orange-blazed River Trail on the right, you’ll cross a wooden bridge over a stream and reach the ruins of a stone cabin, built by a camp that once operated on this property. Follow the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail as it turns right and begins a rocky climb along the stream. The trail soon levels off, passing attractive cascades and pools in the stream to 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 Loop Trail, and continues along a paved section of the park road. After crossing a bridge, the trails diverge. Bear left and continue to follow the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail.
Soon, the trail passes to the left of the stone dam of the MacMillan Reservoir (rebuilt in 2009). You’ve gone a little over a mile from the start, and this is a good place to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, proceed ahead on the wide road, still marked with blue blazes. You’ll pass the start of the pink-blazed Reservoir Loop Trail on the right and the red-blazed Marsh Loop Trail on the left, but continue ahead on the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail. The paving ends at the dam, and the route becomes rather rocky. For the next third of mile, the trail continues to climb.
Just beyond the crest of the rise, the red-blazed Marsh Loop Trail crosses. You should proceed ahead on the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail, which crosses a stream, descends a little, and levels off. In 750 feet, you’ll reach a fork in the road, where the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail leaves to the right. You should take the left fork, now following the Red-Silver Trail along a narrower path.
In another 0.2 mile, just before reaching an intermittent stream, you’ll come to another junction. Here, you should turn sharply left onto the orange-blazed Schuber Trail, which begins here. The Schuber Trail now ascends a rocky hillside and levels off along the southeastern shoulder of Rocky Mountain. After proceeding through a rocky area, it crosses a stream on rocks. It parallels a prominent rocky ridge to the right for some distance, then climbs through a cleft in the ridge and descends through woods to reach paved Bear Swamp Road, about three miles from the start.
The Schuber Trail crosses the road and continues across a wooden bridge over Bear Swamp Brook. About 150 feet beyond the bridge, the trail turns left again, leaving the paved road, and re-enters the woods. It soon approaches a particularly wild and beautiful section of the brook, featuring cascades, pools and a deep rock cut.
A short distance beyond, the brook curves to the left as the Schuber Trail continues ahead, climbing through a rocky area. After crossing a stream on rocks, the trail passes to the right of the ruins of a cabin (once part of the adjacent Camp Yaw Paw). The trail now crosses a second stream and reaches an old woods road, where it turns left onto the Yellow Trail (blazed with yellow diamonds). Follow the joint Schuber and Yellow Trails, which soon bear right and begin a steep and rocky ascent. Reaching the crest of the ridge, the trails bear right and continue along the grassy ridge, entering Camp Glen Gray (owned by Bergen County).
Soon, the Old Guard Trail, blazed with a green tulip leaf on white, leaves to the right. A short distance beyond – at the high point of the ridge (996 feet) – you’ll come to an expansive viewpoint over northern Bergen County from a rock outcrop a short distance to the left of the trail. The Manhattan skyline is visible on the horizon to the right, and on a clear day, you can even see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the distance. You’ve now gone about four miles – a little more than halfway – and this is another good place to stop and take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the trail and turn left. You’ll now be following the Yellow Trail (the Schuber Trail leaves to the right here). The Yellow Trail descends along the ridge and soon reaches a woods road. Turn left onto this road, marked with the silver-on-yellow blazes of the Yellow-Silver Trail, which descends on switchbacks. At the base of the descent, it turns left and joins a woods road that comes in from the right.
After a level stretch, the Yellow-Silver Trail begins a steady descent. Towards the base of the descent, it bears left at a fork, crosses two streams on rocks, and reaches paved Bear Swamp Road. The Yellow-Silver Trail turns left onto the road and crosses Bear Swamp Brook on a wooden bridge. It then turns right, leaving the road, proceeds through the ruins of a goat farm, and climbs gradually on a woods road.
In 0.8 mile from the goat farm ruins, the Yellow-Silver Trail descends a little and ends at an intersection with the red-blazed Marsh Loop Trail. Turn right onto the Marsh Loop Trail, which levels off. After passing through an area with thick understory, the Marsh Loop Trail descends to end at an intersection with the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail, opposite the dam at the eastern end of MacMillan Reservoir.
Turn right and head downhill on the Ridge Loop Trail. Soon, the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail joins from the left, but when the two trails diverge, bear left to stay on the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail.
The Ridge Loop Trail continues to descend, following the wide park road. On the way, 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 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.