This hike loops around five ponds in Ringwood State Park -- Gatun Pond, Brushwood Pond, Weyble Pond, Glasmere Ponds and Swan Pond -- following woods roads and footpaths, and it climbs to a viewpoint at the crest of Mount Defiance. For much of the way, the hike follows multi-use trails, which are open to mountain bikes. The Five Ponds Loop was recently blazed by volunteers of the New York-New...
This hike loops around five ponds in Ringwood State Park -- Gatun Pond, Brushwood Pond, Weyble Pond, Glasmere Ponds and Swan Pond -- following woods roads and footpaths, and it climbs to a viewpoint at the crest of Mount Defiance. For much of the way, the hike follows multi-use trails, which are open to mountain bikes. The Five Ponds Loop was recently blazed by volunteers of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
You will notice triple pink-on-white blazes on both sides of Parking Lot C. Bear right (south) (do not begin at the kiosk) and follow the pink-on-white-blazed Five Ponds Loop up a woods road, bearing right at the fork. Soon, you'll join another woods road that comes in from the left, the route of the white-blazed Crossover Trail. The pink-on-white and white trails jointly climb gently on the woods road, then level off. After climbing a little more and curving to the left, you'll reach a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Ringwood-Ramapo Trail. Here, the Crossover Trail leaves to the right, but you should continue ahead on the woods road, now following only the pink-on-white blazes of the Five Ponds Loop
The trail now begins to descend. Along the way, you'll pass on the left the start of the pink-with-black-stripe-on-white-blazed Five Ponds Connector, but continue ahead on the woods road. After curving to the right, you'll cross a gravel road at the base of the descent. The Crossover Trail is visible on the right here, but you should continue ahead. Just beyond, the Crossover Trail joins from the right. Both trails cross a stream and then bear left, leaving the woods road.
Follow the joint Five Ponds Loop/Crossover Trail, which head uphill, go around a switchback, and then continue gently uphill on an attractive footpath, constructed by the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association (JORBA). After passing a balanced rock on the left and crossing a woods road, you'll reach the crest of a rise. Here, the Crossover Trail leaves on the left, but you should continue ahead, following the Five Ponds Loop. Just beyond, the Five Ponds Loop joins a woods road that comes in from the right. The road curves to the right, climbing gradually.
Be alert for a right turn, where the Five Ponds Loop leaves the road and climbs more steeply on a footpath. After a short climb, it turns right onto a woods road. Just ahead, there is a viewpoint on the left over Gatun Pond (the water level of the pond is currently very low), a good spot to take a break.
Continue ahead on the road, climbing gently, and bear right at a fork. When you reach the next intersection, continue to follow the pink-on-white blazes. A short distance beyond, you’ll reach a four-way intersection, where you turn left, then bear right just ahead and descend to Brushwood Pond, crossing a woods road along the way. At the base of the descent, a short side trail on the right leads to a view of the pond.
The Five Ponds Loop now emerges onto a large field (on weekends, you may notice illegal use of this area by all-terrain vehicles). Continue across the field. Towards the northern end of the field, you'll notice a pink-on-white blaze on a tree to the right. Turn right and continue along a woods road. To avoid a flooded section of the road, the Five Ponds Loop bears right onto a footpath, then joins another road. After crossing between two small ponds, the road climbs a little.
Just ahead, follow the Five Ponds Loop as it turns right onto a footpath, leaving the road and rejoining the Crossover Trail. The footpath soon ends at a T-intersection with the woods road just south of Weyble Pond. Follow the pink-on-white and white blazes as they turn right, rejoining the road, and follow the road around the southern end of the pond. In a short distance, the Crossover Trail leaves to the right. Just ahead, a rock ledge on the left, below the road, offers a view over Weyble Pond (the level of this pond is also currently very low).
Continue to follow the Five Ponds Loop as it heads north on the woods road. The trail turns left at the next intersection, then bears right at the following intersection. About half a mile from Weyble Pond, the Five Ponds Loop turns left, leaving the woods road, and heads downhill.
At the base of the descent, the Five Ponds Loop crosses a woods road, turns right, then immediately rejoins the woods road. It now passes between the two Glasmere Ponds, with good views over the northern pond. The trail goes around a gate and reaches an intersection with another woods road. It turns left and follows the road for 100 feet, then turns right onto a footpath and begins a steady climb of Mt. Defiance on switchbacks.
At the top of the climb, the Five Ponds Loop crosses the blue-triangle-on-white-blazed Skylands Trail and the red-on-white-blazed Ringwood-Ramapo Trail. A short distance beyond, as the Five Ponds Loop bears left, follow an unmarked side trail which leads right to a west-facing viewpoint, with the hills of Tranquility Ridge County Park visible in the distance.
The Five Ponds Loop now descends steadily on switchbacks, following an old carriage road. At the base of the descent, the Five Ponds Loop turns left, joining the white-blazed Crossover Trail. Follow the Five Ponds Loop/Crossover Trail along a wide road for about a quarter mile. When you reach a fork in the road, bear right and continue on the pink-on-white-blazed Five Ponds Loop, which begins to descend. Swan Pond is just to the right. After passing a paved road that goes off to the right, follow the Five Ponds Loop as it turns left onto a gravel road. After crossing a bridge over a stream, the Five Ponds Loop bears right at a fork and continues to its end at Parking Lot C, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 10/09/2020 updated/verified on 10/20/2020
This loop hike follows woods roads and trails to five secluded ponds in Ringwood State Park.
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.