Skyline Preserve Loop

Overview

A trail over rugged, mountainous terrain leads to a scenic lake and views of the New York City skyline.

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
3.45 miles
Route Type:
Lollipop
Dogs:
Features:
Views, Woods
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Passaic
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
02/02/2012
Submitter:
Daniela Wagstaff

Photo

Van Nostrand Lake

Parking


View Skyline Preserve Parking in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.04609,-74.368631
Driving Directions
I-287 to exit 53 for County Rd 511/Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike.  Turn left at the end of exit ramp onto Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike which becomes Main Street.  At the fork, veer right on Glenwild Ave/Passaic County 700.  In 3.8 miles turn left on Weaver Road.  Pull out parking for 2 cars will be on right side of road in 1/2 mile just before the stone bridge.
Description

From the parking pull out, walk west on Weaver Road over the stone bridge and continue for .2 mile.  Just before a black mailbox with number 139 turn left at the “Trail Access” sign beyond which are the three yellow markers indicating the beginning of the yellow-blazed trail through Skyline Preserve.  Proceed through a ditch then past a wrecked car.  Cross over a small stream on logs.

At the half-mile point the trail turns left to follow a woods road.  When making this left turn, make note of the surroundings so you can identify this turn on the return route.  One of the markers is missing in the opposite direction so the turn is easily missed when heading back.  After a short distance the yellow trail leaves the woods road as a footpath to the right.

At .9 miles the trail comes out on an open rock slab with several dead trees and an pretty pine tree growing out of the slab.  Trail markers are missing in this area.  Walk straight towards the two boulders on the rock slab.  Proceed straight towards two more boulders with Van Nostrand Lake visible beyond.  Veer left before the boulder on the left and yellow markers will resume.

The trail arrives at a closer view of Van Nostrand Lake then veers left uphill and follows the lake from a level up.  Soon the trail veers away from the lake and descends on a brief rock scramble.

At the 1.3 mile point, the trail turns right into the woods.   Although markers aren’t visible, the woods road straight ahead at this intersection will be the return route bringing the loop of the lollipop full circle.

View of New York City skyline from Table RockIn .3 mile arrive at Table Rock on the right, a rock slab with views of the New York City Skyline.  Shortly after this view, fallen trees obstruct the trail and markers are sparse, probably having been lost in the storms along with the trees.   This will involve some climbing over and under tree trunks and watching closely for the next trail marker.  At the 1.85 mile point, the trail clears as it veers left at a pretty creek with small waterfalls.

At 2.1 miles the trail comes out onto a mossy, rocky woods road, which it follows to the left.  After a few steps keep straight on the woods road as the yellow blazes also leave to the left – this is where the loop of the lollipop started at the beginning of the hike.  From this point retrace your steps back to your car.  Remember to watch for the right turn at 2.9 miles where the second marker indicating a turn is missing.  You will see the woods road fork and go uphill; the right turn is just before that fork.

Turn by turn description
[  0.00]  Walk west over bridge from pull off parking[  0.20]  Turn left at Trail Access sign just before mail box with number 139[  0.50]  Trail turns left following woods road[  0.55]  Trail leaves woods road to right as footpath[  0.90]  Trail comes out at clearing heading towards Van Nostrand Lake[  1.05]  Trail comes out at Van Nostrand Lake and veers left uphill along the lake[  1.15]  Trail veers away from lake on woods road after brief downhill rock scramble[  1.30]  Trail leaves wider path to the right on a more narrow path (start of lollipop loop)[  1.60]  View of New York City skyline from Table Rock Overlook on right[  1.70]  Area of heavy blow down to climb over and crawl under; sparse blazing[  1.85]  Trail clears as it turns left before creek with small waterfalls[  2.10]  Trail comes out on mossy, rocky woods road[  2.15]  Keep straight on woods road having completed lollipop loop when yellow goes left from beginning of hike; now retracing first part[  2.25]  Just before lake trail leaves woods road to right as footpath[  2.30]  Brief rock scramble up then trail follows along upper level with lake below to the left[  2.50]  Cross open rock slab with pretty pine growing out of rock[  2.80]  Trail turns left on woods road[  2.90]  Trail leaves woods road to right before woods road forks left uphill (this is where turn blaze is missing)[  3.20]  Cross small creek on logs at wrecked car[  3.25]  Turn right on Weaver Road[  3.45]  Back at parking pull out

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

Should be termed an 'Unmaintained' Trail

This is no doubt a beautiful area, but it's only for folks with a sense of adventure & more time on their hands than the writer of the hike description recommends. For starters, while the description has the trail starting at the "Trail Access" sign 0.2 miles west of the parking pullout (which in fact it does), both the 2011 Jersey Highlands T.C. trail map and the 2014 North Jersey T.C. trail map indicate that the yellow trail begins immediately across the street from the parking area. At the same time, both maps indicate that an unblazed woods road with a gate -- which leads to the yellow trail -- starts about 0.2 miles west of the parking area.  So there's that confusion at the very beginning. While much of the hike is a wade through lowbush blueberry bushes, with little indication that a trail runs through them, the real fun begins, as the writer indicates, at about 1.7 miles, where 1) the treadway is faint to nonexistent, 2) multiple blowdowns in many locations obscure whatever trail there once was, 3) trees bearing blazes are among the fallen, and 4) many blazes are scattered on the ground. My small group had to double back to the last visible blaze, as well as walk a broad circle around the last blaze, numerous times; and at such times, as the trail doesn't seem to get much traffic, we had neither blazes nor an obvious treadway to follow. A bunch of times we were thrilled to find a blaze on the forest floor.  At 1.85 miles, the trail approaches the creek on the right, but at this point there are no plastic yellow blazes but there are some yellow paint markings on the trees heading in the opposite direction; i.e. the trail does not reach the creek and sort of loops around on itself. And coming back up the lollipop loop, once you're on the open rock slab (2.5 miles) it is difficult, due to lack of blazing, to find where the trail descends from the ridge. Altogether a beautiful, tranquil area with varied terrain and nice wildlife (a bear, wild turkeys, toads, birds), but until the Trail Conference can get someone in there to re-blaze the blown down areas and also just add a lot more blazes, the next map sets should mark the Skyline Preserve trails as 'Unmaintained', because they're not. Thanks to the Trail Conference for all you do for wild spaces & those who enjoy them!

Unmaintained Trail at Skyline Preserve

Thank you for your thorough report about this trail's condition.  As the cartographer here at the Trail Conference, I have made a note to consider making adjustments to our maps that cover this area so that this trail is changed to an unmaintained trail rather than as a maintained trail like the other thick red lines on the map.While it is true that the majority of the trails shown on our trail maps are maintained by the Trail Conference, especially in some of the larger parks, there are also several trails that are shown on the maps that are not maintained by our volunteers.  This particular trail is in Skyline Preserve, which is managed by the NJ Conservation Foundation (NJCF), and I believe it was put in place a few years ago.  I'm not aware of any Trail Conference involvement for this particular trail or preserve, and it unfortunately sounds like the trail has quickly fallen into a difficult-to-follow trail.If improvements to the trail are not made before the next edition of either of these maps, we will definitely consider showing this as an unmaintained trail to reflect its condition on the ground.  Many thanks for your report and suggestion, as we appreciate reports like this that allow us to either resolve trail issues or make corrections or adjustments to our maps.~Jeremy ApgarTC Cartographer

Beautiful today but

Beautiful today in the virgin snow but a multitude of blowdowns and many missing trail markers. Had to consult with my Maker several times to divine the way.