From the northwest end of the parking area, cross Skyline Drive and follow the yellow blazes of the Hoeferlin Memorial Trail, which curves to the north and parallels Skyline Drive. The trail steeply ascends a rock outcrop, then descends through mountain laurel. In 0.4 mile, the Cannonball Trail, marked by a white “C” on red, joins from the left, and both trails proceed north on a wide woods...
From the northwest end of the parking area, cross Skyline Drive and follow the yellow blazes of the Hoeferlin Memorial Trail, which curves to the north and parallels Skyline Drive. The trail steeply ascends a rock outcrop, then descends through mountain laurel. In 0.4 mile, the Cannonball Trail, marked by a white “C” on red, joins from the left, and both trails proceed north on a wide woods road.
In another half a mile, the trails cross a stream in a wet area and emerge from the woods near Skyline Drive, where they pass to the right of a fenced-in structure for a gas pipeline in an open area. Continue ahead, following the yellow and red trails as they pass through a barrier of concrete slabs, reenter the woods, and climb on switchbacks.
In another 0.4 mile, the red-on-white-blazed Matapan Rock Trail crosses. Turn left and follow this trail for about 500 feet to its end at Matapan Rock. This rock ledge, which directly overlooks Skyline Drive below, affords an expansive view to the west.
After resting here for a bit, retrace your steps to the main trail, turn left, and proceed north along the joint Hoeferlin/Cannonball Trail, which immediately crosses a wide gravel road (to the left, this road leads to a radio tower). The trails soon bear left, ascending to the ridgeline, and passing a large glacial erratic on the right. Upon reaching the ridgeline, the trails bear right onto a wide path and head north along the ridgeline, descending gradually.
A quarter mile beyond, the two trails split. Bear right and follow the white-on-red-blazed Cannonball Trail, which descends a little and soon begins to follow a secondary ridge, with a wetland below on the left. After traversing a boulder field, the Cannonball Trail is briefly joined by the green-tulip-tree-leaf-on-white-blazed Old Guard Trail. Just ahead, follow the Cannonball Trail as it bears left onto a woods road (here, the Old Guard Trail leaves to the right). You are now following the route of the historic Cannonball Road, reputed to have been used by the colonists during the Revolutionary War to transport munitions without being intercepted by the British.
In another quarter mile, after crossing the Old Guard Trail and a stream, you’ll pass a 25-foot-square abandoned concrete structure (probably an old cistern) on the right. You’ve now entered Boy Scout Camp Yaw Paw.
A short distance beyond, you’ll notice a triple yellow-diamond blaze on the right. Turn right onto the Yellow Trail, which passes the camp’s Dogwood Cabin on the left and soon joins a woods road. It crosses a stream and then the route of a gas pipeline. After crossing another stream, it joins the orange-blazed Schuber Trail, which comes in from the left, and both trails begin a steady climb.
At the crest of the ridge, the trails bear right and head south. Soon, the green-tulip-tree-leaf-on-white Old Guard Trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead, following the yellow and orange blazes. At the highest point on the ridge (elevation 996 feet), the orange-blazed Schuber Trail leaves to the right. Here, you should head left to a rock outcrop which offers an outstanding view over northern Bergen County, with the Manhattan skyline visible on the horizon to the right. This is a good place to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, turn left and proceed south on the Yellow Trail, which now begins to descend. After passing a stone foundation on a rock ledge, the trail comes to a T-intersection with a woods road. Turn right onto the road, briefly joining the Yellow-Silver Trail, but, in 100 feet, bear left and continue to follow the yellow diamond blazes along a footpath. The Yellow Trail passes the stone foundations of some old Scout buildings, crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, climbs to the crest of the rise, then descends steadily through a wooded valley.
After passing a huge, flat-sided boulder, the trail turns right onto an old woods road and levels off. Soon, it reaches a junction with the white-blazed Millstone Trail. Turn left, now following both yellow and white blazes, and descend to cross two branches of Fox Brook on wooden bridges.
The trails now climb to cross paved Midvale Mountain Road, then continue to climb through the woods on a winding footpath. Soon, you’ll notice a millstone in nearly perfect condition to the left of the trail. This area was once the site of a millstone quarry, and the stones that you see were damaged during quarrying or abandoned when the quarry operation shut down. After climbing a little further, you’ll pass several more abandoned millstones in various stages of completion.
Just beyond, the white-blazed Millstone Trail goes off to the right, but you should proceed ahead, continuing to follow the Yellow Trail. The trail soon crosses a stone wall and begins a steady descent. On the way down, you can see the eastern ridge of the Ramapo Mountains through the trees, and the New York City skyscrapers may be visible on the horizon on a clear day. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a stream on rocks (with an attractive cascade on the right), parallels another stream, then bears left to cross it.
The trail now climbs rather steeply. At the top of the rise, a municipal water tower may be seen just ahead. The trail now descends steeply to Todd Lake, passes a rock ledge (at a stone wall), with a view over the lake, and continues to parallel the lake. Near the lake’s south end, the Yellow Trail turns right and soon ends at a woods road, the route of the white-blazed Todd Trail.
Turn right, now following the white blazes. Just ahead, the Todd Trail turns right onto an intersecting woods road. A short distance beyond, it turns left, leaving the road, and follows a footpath into the woods. It climbs gradually, descends to a shallow ravine, then ascends on a winding, rocky footpath, with several switchbacks. When it reaches Skyline Drive, the trail turns right and continues for about 200 feet to the triple blaze opposite the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/25/2002 updated/verified on 04/24/2016
This loop hike traverses a portion of the historic Cannonball Trail through the Ramapo Mountains and ascends to several viewpoints, with broad vistas both east and west
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.