Garret Mountain Reservation

Park Overview:

Situated 500 feet above sea level, Garret Mountain Reservation offers several overlooks with panoramic views of northern New Jersey and New York City.  

Trail Uses:Hiking, Bridle path, X-C skiing
Dogs:Dogs on leash
Trail Miles:8 miles
Park Acreage:568 acres
City/County/
State:
Woodland Park,
Paterson/Passaic/NJ
Web Map:Friends of Garret Mountain Trail Map
Park Description:

Garret Mountain, located in Paterson and Woodland Park [formerly West Paterson], is divided into two separate Passaic County parks: Garret Mountain Reservation to the north and Rifle Camp Park to the south.

The 568-acre Garret Mountain Reservation includes Lambert Castle built in 1893 by a wealthy silk manufacturer.  Many workers believed Catholina Lambert built it high up on the mountain to watch over his mills below.  The main portion of the park - on the ridge top above the castle - is encircled by a paved drive and has a variety of developed recreational facilities, but it also features two trails that traverse lesser-used areas and offer several panoramic overlooks. The New York City skyline can be seen from several overlooks along the Yellow Trail.

Lambert Observation Tower, built in 1896 on the ridge of the mountain, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Closed since 1971, it re-opened in 2014.  Visitors can climb to the top of the 75-foot tower and enjoy commanding views of Paterson and the distant New York City skyline.

Garret Mountain is a destination for birds – both migratory and local -- and for birders. It is one of twelve National Natural Landmarks (NNL) designated in New Jersey by the National Park Service. The NNL Program encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of biological and geological features found throughout the country. 

Special note:  this area is especially rich in labor and industrial history.  A fabulous day or two can be spent by combining visits to:

Trails Overview:

The Reservation features three major blazed trails.

  • The Yellow Trail circles around Garret Mountain Reservation [yellow blaze; 3.1 miles].  Access points with parking are scattered throughout the park, including one located near the 70-foot high Observation Tower.  The steep former Yellow Trail spur from the Lambert Castle parking area (shown on older trail maps) has now been incorporated into the Morris Canal Greenway – and re-blazed accordingly with its logo.
  • The Morris Canal Greenway segment that runs through the Reservation includes a section of the pathway that is roughly parallel to the original Canal now covered by I-80 and Route 19. This trail offers a head-on north-facing view of downtown Paterson.  Click for a map showing parking and access points to the Morris Canal Greenway.   Zoom in to the northern end of Garret Mountain Reservation to view access points which include Lambert Castle parking area and another at Summit Avenue. The Greenway actually includes two routes: The Garret Mountain Reservation route is hiking only (displayed in green on the map); while another planned route down below will be multi-use and follows roads and sidewalks where available (displayed in yellow).
  • The White Trail traverses the northern end of the park and connects at both ends with the Yellow Trail, making possible additional loop hikes.

Blazed trails in the park range from 0.7 to 3.1 miles, and when combined total over 8 miles. Other unblazed major trails and minor trails add to the total. Use "Web Map" link at the left of the photo above for a trail map.

It is possible to walk on the sides of major roads and local streets from Garret Mountain Reservation to Rifle Camp Park. (enter “Garret Mountain Reservation, Woodland Park, NJ” in an Internet map search service to view a street map). However, blazes from the former 0.7-mile trail connector that followed these roads have been eliminated.   The Passaic County Department of Parks and Recreation is working to acquire property rights for an in-park connector, but as of March 2014 it appears the process will not be completed anytime soon.

  • No fee for parking or hiking, just admission to Lambert Castle
  • The Friends of Garret Mountain serves "to help preserve, protect, and enhance the natural beauty of Garret Mountain Reservation and Rifle Camp Park."

Click for detailed descriptions of hikes in the Reservation.

 

Directions:

To Lambert Castle parking area:

  • Driving: I-80 to Exit 57A, south on NJ 19 to Valley Road exit. Turn right onto Valley Road, then next right.
  • Public Transportation: NJ Transit bus #192 and #702 [Valley Road & Fenner Ave]

Two other entrances lead to numerous parking areas at the top of Garret Mountain. Click on Contact Information below, then follow the Directions tab.

Contact Information:Passaic County Parks Department
973-881-4832
Region:Watchungs
Fees:None