From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will see a triple purple-on-white blaze on a tree, which marks the start of the Tamarack Loop. Turn right onto the gravel road that leads into Camp Tamarack, then immediately turn left and follow the purple-on-white blazes downhill on a winding footpath. At the base of the descent, turn right at a T-intersection, then bear left, skirting the ruins of the former rifle range of the camp. Here, the Tamarack Loop turns right, but you should continue straight ahead, now following the orange blazes of the Schuber Trail. The Schuber Trail crosses Tamarack Brook on a wooden footbridge, climbs over a knoll, and descends to cross another stream on rocks.
In another quarter mile, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Millstone Trail near the crest of a rise. Turn right onto the Millstone Trail, which climbs to a narrow valley known as Rocky Slide Gulch. Here, it turns right, then curves left and continues to climb. After a relatively level section, it passes to the left of a huge boulder known as Sitting Hen Rock, then bears right and resumes its ascent. Just beyond the crest of the hill, the trail reaches the Southwest Lookout.
From the lookout, the Millstone Trail bears left, descends slightly, then climbs to reach a balanced rock in an open area. A patch of prickly pear cactus, which blooms in early July, may be seen nearby. Again, the trail bears left and descends. Soon, the Yellow Trail (marked with yellow diamond blazes) joins from the right and, in about 50 feet, both trails pass (on the right) several abandoned millstones in various stages of completion. 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. The yellow and white trails continue to descend on a winding footpath. After crossing an old woods road at a sign “HT 12,” you’ll notice a millstone in nearly perfect condition just to the right of the trail.
After examining this millstone, turn around and head uphill, retracing your steps back to the junction of the Millstone and Yellow Trails. (If you reach the paved access road to Camp Glen Gray, you’ve gone too far and should turn around and return to the junction.) At the junction, bear left to continue on the Yellow Trail. The trail soon crosses several stone walls 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.
Towards the base of the descent, the trail parallels a stone wall on the left. It then bears right and traverses a rocky area. After a short, steep descent, it crosses a stream on rocks (with an attractive cascade to the right), then climbs to another stream and bears left to cross it.
The trail now climbs steadily. After a level stretch at the top of the rise, a municipal water tower may be seen through the trees ahead. The trail now curves to the right and descends towards Todd Lake. Soon, the Yellow Trail ends at a junction with the purple-on-white Tamarack Loop. Continue ahead (downhill), now following purple-on-white blazes. After passing cliffs on the left, the trail turns right, climbs a little, then descends towards Todd Lake. Soon, the trail reaches a stone wall on a rock ledge at water level, with a view over the lake, and continues to parallel the lake. Near the lake’s south end, the Tamarack Loop turns right, away from the lake. A short distance ahead, it reaches a woods road.
Turn right, continuing to follow the Tamarack Loop along the road. Just ahead, another woods road joins from the right and then leaves to the left. The Tamarack Loop bears right and continues ahead on the main woods road, but in 150 feet it turns left, leaving the road, and follows a footpath into the woods. After dipping into a shallow ravine, the trail begins to climb, first rather steeply, then more gradually. It levels off, descends to cross a seasonal stream in 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 purple-on-white blaze marking the terminus of the Tamarack Loop, opposite the parking area where the hike began.
Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazinon 03/13/2003updated/verified on 10/23/2016
This loop hike traverses the historic Millstone Trail and runs along the shore of Todd Lake.
From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will...
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.
As you can see, I have amended the hike description to include the warning that if you've reached the paved access road to Camp Glen Gray, you've gone too far and need to go back. I understand that others have made the same mistake as you did, so hopefully the cautionary language may alert them that they should not continue any further. Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention!
April 17, 2013
See, I figured that's where I went wrong too! I definitely think adding the "do not cross the access road" would be a huge help. I was confused seeing the Yellow Diamond blazes at the same time as the normal White ones and kept thinking I was where I was supposed to be (after crossing the access road and two wooden bridges). I think my main problem was finding the original junction of both trails...something I'll definitely keep my eyes out for next time. Thank you so much for the quick response and all the help! Regardless of the detour, it was a beautiful hike nonetheless! And I got to see a part of Ramapo I had never been to before! Thank you!
April 16, 2013
From the description of where you ended up, it sounds like you must have continued ahead on the Yellow Trail past the millstones. The hike directions state that, after visiting the millstones, you should "retrace your steps back to the junction of the Millstone and Yellow Trails, and bear left to continue on the Yellow Trail." Did you "retrace your steps"? If you did, you would not have reached the intersection of the Yellow, Orange and Yellow-Silver Trails. Perhaps I should add that if you cross the paved access road to Camp Glen Gray, you've gone too far. Would this have helped?