Yellow Trail Loop at Garret Mountain Reservation

Overview

This loop hike encircles this park, passing several outstanding views over northern New Jersey and the Manhattan skyline.

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Easy
Length:
3 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Passaic
State:
NJ
Maps/Books
Publication
First Published:
09/26/2002

Updated/Verified:
12/18/2013
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin
Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
40.890222957119576,-74.18155431747437
Driving Directions

Take I-80 west to Exit 56 (Squirrelwood Road/Woodland Park/Paterson). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto Squirrelwood Road. (If you are coming from the west, take Exit 56A and proceed south on Squirrelwood Road.) Continue along Squirrelwood Road for 0.7 mile, then turn left onto Mountain Avenue at the New Street Reservoir. In 0.3 mile, you will reach the entrance to Garret Mountain Reservation on the right. Turn right and continue along the park road for 0.5 mile to the Stoney Brook Picnic Area, on the right. Turn right and park in the parking area

Description

From the parking area, follow the path downhill to a lawn at the southern end of Barbour’s Pond, and turn left onto a wide macadam path, passing to the left of a stone building and a smaller maintenance building. As you pass the entrance to the smaller building, you’ll reach the Yellow Trail. Turn left onto the Yellow Trail, which you will follow for the entire hike.

After paralleling a stream on the right, the trail turns left, away from the stream, and begins to climb. You’ll pass abandoned concrete picnic tables on the left and an abandoned playground and shelter (as well as a newer building) on the right. The trail climbs a rise and – just before reaching a paved road – turns sharply left and descends to cross Benson Drive, the road that circles the park. Just beyond, it reaches a junction with the White Trail, which begins here. Follow the yellow blazes, which turn right on a wide gravel path.

In another 250 feet, as the dirt path bears left, the Yellow Trail continues straight ahead, climbing an embankment and again crossing the paved road. The trail turns right and runs along the road (do not follow the paved road leading ahead to the park stables). At the next intersection, the trail bears left and continues parallel to the paved Weasel Drift Road.

Just before reaching the park boundary, the yellow blazes turn left, leaving the road, and ascend into the woods on a footpath. With the access road to the stables visible ahead, the trail bears right, passes between abandoned concrete tank supports, and begins to run along the ridge of Garret Mountain, with the stables to the left. At the end of the stables, the trail bears left, makes a short but steep descent, and then turns right, continuing along the ridge.

View from Garret Mountain. Photo be Daniel Chazin.About 0.2 mile beyond the stables, the trail reaches an unobstructed viewpoint to the east from the edge of the ridge. Clifton, as well as the southern part of Paterson, may be seen directly below, with much of southern Bergen County beyond, and the Manhattan skyline clearly visible in the distance. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is at the extreme right of this broad panorama. This is a good place to take a break while enjoying this spectacular view.

The trail continues north along the ridge, passing several more viewpoints. Soon, you’ll reach a stone observation tower, built in the 1890s by a wealthy silk manufacturer as part of Lambert Castle, at the base of the mountain. The trail skirts to the right of the tower, following a stone wall.

Beyond the tower, the Morris Canal Greenway Trail (marked with canal-boat-logo-on-yellow blazes) joins. Continue to follow both the yellow and the Greenway logo blazes (do not descend on a macadam path at a break in the stone wall). After curving to the right, the trail descends on a rocky path and stone steps, and it briefly parallels the paved park road.

About 0.2 mile from the tower, a side trail to the right leads to another expansive viewpoint to the east from the edge of a cliff. A police firing range is located directly below, so don’t be startled to hear gunshots! The trail soon passes a small gravel parking area on the left, follows a footpath into the woods, then emerges onto a grassy field and follows along its right side.

At the end of the field, the Yellow Trail, together with the Greenway Trail, descend on a footpath to the entrance to an overlook. Here, the White Trail and the Greenway Trail leave to the right. The overlook affords a panoramic view over downtown Paterson (directly below) and High Mountain to the north.

After taking in the view, continue ahead on the Yellow Trail, which  follows a macadam path parallel to Benson Drive, passing a plaque honoring a founder of the Passaic County park system. At the next intersection, follow the Yellow Trail as it bears right and climbs along a paved road that leads to Veterans Memorial Point, the site of a communications tower.

Just beyond a guardrail barrier at the end of the paved road, the trail bears left and descends into the woods. A quarter of a mile beyond, after crossing the White Trail, the Yellow Trail climbs over a small rise and descends, first gradually, then more steeply on switchbacks.

At the base of the descent, the trail turns right onto a path, then bears left and crosses the park entrance road. It passes through an opening in a guardrail and begins to parallel Mountain Avenue. After crossing its outlet stream on a wooden footbridge, the trail runs along the west side of Barbour’s Pond. At the end of the pond, bear left at a fork, proceed across a footbridge, and continue across the lawn and up the hill to the parking area where you began the hike.