Stonetown Circular Trail - Northern Loop

Overview

This loop hike climbs steeply to the summit of Harrison Mountain, with panoramic views, descends to the Monksville Reservoir, and returns via pleasant woods roads and footpaths.

Details
Time:
3 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
4.4 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Passaic
State:
NJ
Publication
First Published:
01/12/2007
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.112938,-74.305494

Driving Directions

Take Skyline Drive to its northwestern terminus at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County Route 511). Turn right, continue for 3.4 miles, and turn left onto Stonetown Road. (For these 3.4 miles, Greenwood Lake Turnpike closely parallels the Wanaque Reservoir, and the turn onto Stonetown Road is the first left turn that you can make.) Cross the dam of the Monksville Reservoir and continue for 1.2 miles to Lake Riconda Drive. Turn right onto Lake Riconda Drive and continue to the cul-de-sac at the end of the road, where parking is available.

Description

This hike utilizes a newly relocated section of the Stonetown Circular Trail which traverses Long Pond Ironworks State Park and watershed lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (NJDWSC). The hike begins and ends with fairly steep climbs, but for most of the way, the route you will be following is either level or downhill. On the second half of the hike, which goes through NJDWSC watershed lands east of Stonetown Road, hikers are requested to remain on the marked trails.

At the end of the paved Lake Riconda Drive, you will see three white blazes on a telephone pole. They mark the start of the Horse Pond Mountain Trail (the route of this trail up Harrison Mountain was formerly the route of the Stonetown Circular Trail). Follow the white-blazed trail, which bears left around a private home, crosses a stream and begins to climb Harrison Mountain. At first the climb is gradual, but it soon steepens.

Near the top, the trail enters a dense mountain laurel thicket and begins to parallel power lines. It briefly joins a woods road, then turns right, leaving the road, and continues to climb. After a brief level stretch, the trail bears right, and the climb steepens. At the top of the steep climb, the trail emerges on open rocks, with a panoramic 270° view. The Monksville Reservoir is visible to the north, with Windbeam Mountain to the southeast, and Bear and Board Mountains to its north. You’ll want to take a break here and rest from the steep climb.

When you’re ready to continue, follow the white-blazed trail as it briefly descends, crosses a woods road, quickly bears left and resumes its climb. After a sharp right turn, the Horse Pond Mountain Trail reaches a junction with the red-triangle-on-white-blazed Stonetown Circular Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail at the summit of Harrison Mountain.

Turn right, leaving the Horse Pond Mountain Trail, and follow the joint Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail, which begins a steady descent along the north slope of Harrison Mountain. At a viewpoint over the Monksville Reservoir, the trail turns right, crosses under the power lines and continues to descend. After crossing the outlet stream of Lake Riconda, the trail bears right. Soon, it crosses a woods road, then immediately bears left and joins another woods road which descends gently to the edge of the reservoir. Here, the trail joins a woods road that comes in from the left. The Monksville Dam is visible to the right, and Monks Mountain is to left, across the reservoir. This is another attractive spot to take a break and enjoy the views.

The Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail bears right and follows the woods road around an arm of the reservoir. It crosses a culvert over a stream (with an interesting stone wall to the right), goes through a gate and, after passing another viewpoint over the reservoir, reaches Stonetown Road. (The gated paved road leading down to the reservoir is the original route of Stonetown Road, drowned under the reservoir when it was filled with water.)

The trail climbs over the guardrail, crosses Stonetown Road diagonally to the left, and reenters the woods at the northern end of the fence on the east side of the road. Follow the red-triangle-on-white and teal diamond blazes as the trail crosses a stream, climbs a small rise and continues on a relatively level route, with some minor ups and downs. You are now on lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, where hikers are requested to remain on the marked trails.

The trail soon joins a woods road, which it follows for about a third of a mile, descending for part of the way. After crossing another stream, the trail bears left, leaving the woods road, and traverses another relatively level stretch. It crosses a woods road and then a stream bordered by an old stone wall, briefly climbs to a woods road, and turns left to follow the road for another third of a mile. Watch carefully for the double blaze where the marked trail turns left, leaving the road.

About a mile and a quarter from Stonetown Road, you’ll reach a junction where a connector trail, marked with a small black diamond on a teal diamond, begins. Turn right and follow this connector trail, which climbs very gently. After briefly joining a woods road, the trail begins to climb more steeply.

At a T-intersection of footpaths, the trail turns right, briefly descends, then turns left onto a wide woods road. In another 300 feet, the connector trail ends at paved White Road. Turn right and follow this quiet residential road downhill for 0.4 mile to Stonetown Road, then turn left and follow Stonetown Road for a quarter of a mile to Lake Riconda Drive. Turn right onto Lake Riconda Drive and follow it to its end, where the hike began.