You'll notice a triple yellow blaze, which marks the start of the Wyanokie Crest Trail. Proceed ahead on this trail, which briefly follows a fire road but almost immediately bears left and continues on a footpath. The trail climbs a little, crosses a woods road and a rocky area, then descends to Posts Brook. It crosses several branches of the brook on rocks (the crossing can be difficult if...
You'll notice a triple yellow blaze, which marks the start of the Wyanokie Crest Trail. Proceed ahead on this trail, which briefly follows a fire road but almost immediately bears left and continues on a footpath. The trail climbs a little, crosses a woods road and a rocky area, then descends to Posts Brook. It crosses several branches of the brook on rocks (the crossing can be difficult if the water is high), then turns right onto a woods road, the route of the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail. In 100 feet, the Wyanokie Crest Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the blue- and teal-diamond-blazed trail.
After passing through a wet area, the trail crosses a tributary stream. This crossing can also be difficult if the water is high, and you may wish to bear left (uphill) to find a better crossing. Just beyond, you'll reach a junction with the white-blazed Posts Brook Trail. The Hewitt-Butler and Highlands Trails leave to the left, but continue ahead on the white trail, which closely parallels the cascading Posts Brook.
Soon, the trail reaches the top of Chikahoki Falls and descends to the brook, with a good view of the falls to the right. The trail closely parallels the brook for a short distance, then bears left and heads uphill, away from the brook.
In a quarter mile, you'll cross a seasonal stream, after which the trail bears right and once again heads towards Posts Brook. Just ahead on a tree is a sign which marks the start of the Lower Trail. Turn left and follow the Lower Trail, blazed with a black "L" on white, for a short distance to a junction with the yellow-blazed Carris Hill Trail. Here, you should turn left again, now following the yellow blazes.
After traversing a level, rocky area, the Carris Hill Trail crosses a seasonal stream and begins a rather steep climb. The grade soon moderates, but after a third of a mile, it again climbs steeply over rocks, reaching a viewpoint to the southeast from a rock outcrop to the right. The trail continues to climb to another rock outcrop, with a broader view. Here, it bears right and ascends to the left of a 40-foot-high massive rock face.
At the top, a short detour to the right leads to a magnificent east-facing viewpoint. The Wanaque Reservoir, contained by the Raymond, Wolf Den and Green Swamp dams, is in the foreground, with the Ramapo Mountains beyond, and a long viaduct of I-287 visible to the right. On a clear day, the New York City skyline may be seen on the horizon. This is a good place to pause and enjoy the spectacular view.
The yellow trail now climbs more gradually, soon reaching another viewpoint (partially blocked by trees), with a six-foot-high balanced glacial erratic silhouetted against the sky. The trail curves right and traverses open rock ledges with views to the south. After going through dense mountain laurel thickets, it reaches a fifth viewpoint -- this one to the southwest -- with pitch pines and a large glacial erratic. The trail continues on a level footpath through laurel and blueberry bushes and climbs slightly to end, on a rock outcrop with views to the north and west, at a junction with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail.
Turn left here, and follow the joint Hewitt-Butler/Highlands Trail to the southeast. After reaching another large rock outcrop, the trail begins a steady descent, eventually leveling off on a woods road. It bears right, leaving the road, and soon reaches a junction with the white-blazed Posts Brook Trail, which you encountered earlier in the hike. Turn right and follow the blue and teal diamond blazes westward, now retracing your route. When you reach the junction with the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail, turn left, recross Posts Brook, and continue to the trailhead where the hike began.
This hike passes cascades and a waterfall and climbs Carris Hill, with a broad panorama to the east over the Wanaque Reservoir.
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.