This hike, which incorporates the scenic Brookside Trail (just west of the MacMillan Reservoir), begins at a kiosk in the southwest corner of the parking area. Just ahead, you'll notice a triple-black-square-on-yellow blaze on a tree, which marks the start of the Vista Spur Trail. Follow the black-square-on-yellow blazes as they descend wooden steps, join a wide dirt road, and continue ahead...
This hike, which incorporates the scenic Brookside Trail (just west of the MacMillan Reservoir), begins at a kiosk in the southwest corner of the parking area. Just ahead, you'll notice a triple-black-square-on-yellow blaze on a tree, which marks the start of the Vista Spur Trail. Follow the black-square-on-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. Just beyond the bridge, you'll pass one end of the orange-on-white-blazed River Loop Trail on the left and, in another 250 feet, you'll pass the other end of this loop, but you should continue ahead on the wide dirt road, following the black-square-on-yellow blazes along the southern shore of Scarlet Oak Pond (formerly the site of a gravel quarry).
At the end of the pond, a triple-blaze marks the terminus of the Vista Spur Trail. Continue ahead on the wide dirt road. In 125 feet, a triple-yellow blaze marks the start of the Vista Loop Trail. Then, in another 75 feet, the Vista Loop Trail turns right, but you should proceed ahead on the wide dirt road, now following the blue/yellow-blazed Vista-Ridge Connector, which begins here.
The Vista-Ridge Connector curves to the left and climbs gradually on the main park road. In a third of a mile, you’ll notice on the left two sets of triple blazes, which mark the end of the Vista-Ridge Connector and the start of the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail. Continue ahead on the Ridge Loop Trail (do not turn left) and head uphill on a footpath with wooden steps. Just ahead, the blue blazes turn left onto a woods road, which ascends on a slightly steeper grade.
After curving to the left, the Ridge Loop Trail reaches a fork. Turn left here and follow the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail for about 200 feet. When the yellow blazes turn sharply right, continue ahead, following black-star-on-yellow blazes a short distance to a panoramic southeast-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge. Campgaw Mountain may be seen in the foreground to the right, and the New York City skyline is visible in the distance on a clear day.
After taking in the view, retrace your steps to the yellow-blazed trail and turn left, following the trail as it descends steadily. Just before reaching a large pile of boulders, the trail turns right and climbs to a rocky outcrop with a single cedar tree, from which Matty Price Hill is visible ahead. The trail now descends towards the MacMillan Reservoir, passing another rocky outcrop (with a view of Matty Price Hill) along the way.
At the base of the descent, you’ll emerge on a large expanse of open rock that overlooks the reservoir. Here, the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail turns left, but you should turn right onto the pink-blazed Reservoir Loop Trail, which heads north along the eastern shore of the reservoir. As you approach the northern end of the reservoir, the trail closely parallels the shore, then crosses a wooden footbridge over a stream, built as an Eagle Scout project in 2018.
At the northern tip of the reservoir, a massive boulder on the left marks a spot where a flat rock that juts into the reservoir affords a panoramic view. A short distance beyond, the trail reaches a wooden footbridge over the inlet of the reservoir. Turn right just before the bridge, leaving the Reservoir Loop Trail, and head west on the blue/pink-blazed Brookside Trail, which parallels the inlet. Along the way, the trail approaches a rocky gorge on the left, with a beautiful waterfall when the water is high.
After curving to the right, the Brookside Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail. Turn left and follow the Ridge Loop Trail, which crosses the inlet of the reservoir on rocks and begins a steady climb. The trail bears left at a junction with the red/silver-blazed Rocky Mountain Connector (which begins on the right).
Just beyond a stream crossing on a culvert, the red-blazed Marsh Loop Trail crosses. Turn left onto the red-blazed Marsh Loop Trail, which descends steadily on a footpath through attractive woods, passing to the right of a deep ravine. It curves to the right and ends at a junction with the pink-blazed Reservoir Loop Trail near the shore of the MacMillan Reservoir.
Turn right and follow the Reservoir Loop Trail along the southwestern side of the reservoir. After running for some distance close to the shore, the Reservoir Loop Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail, just south of the dam.
Proceed ahead (downhill) on the Ridge Loop Trail, which follows the wide park road. Soon, the yellow-blazed Vista Loop Trail joins from the left. Continue ahead on the road, now following both blue and yellow blazes. When the trails diverge at a sign for the "waterfall," bear left to stay on the blue-blazed Ridge Loop Trail. A short distance ahead, you’ll reach a junction where the blue blazes head uphill to the left. Here, you should bear right and follow the blue/yellow-blazed Vista-Ridge Connector downhill along the park road. Near the base of the descent, the Vista-Ridge Connector 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 for 200 feet, then continue on the black-square-on-yellow-blazed Vista Spur 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.area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/06/2017 updated/verified on 12/13/2021
This hike climbs to the Ridge Overlook, skirts the MacMillan Reservoir, and passes a beautiful waterfall.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.