From the kiosk at the northern end of the parking area, climb wooden steps, following the Blue Trail. Almost immediately, you'll reach a junction, where the loop of the Blue Trail begins. Continue straight ahead to follow the Blue Trail in the counter-clockwise direction. After passing a rock outcrop on the right, a black-dash-on-blue connecting trail begins on the left, but you should bear...
From the kiosk at the northern end of the parking area, climb wooden steps, following the Blue Trail. Almost immediately, you'll reach a junction, where the loop of the Blue Trail begins. Continue straight ahead to follow the Blue Trail in the counter-clockwise direction. After passing a rock outcrop on the right, a black-dash-on-blue connecting trail begins on the left, but you should bear right to continue on the Blue Trail.
The Blue Trail now descends to a junction with a black-square-on-blue side trail, which begins on the right. Continue ahead on the Blue Trail, which climbs gradually to reach a limited east-facing viewpoint (when there are no leaves on the trees) from a rock outcrop on the right. The trail dips down, climbs to another seasonal viewpoint, then descends steadily.
After crossing a stream on rocks, you’ll come to a junction where the Orange Trail begins on the left. Continue ahead on the Blue Trail, which follows a contour around a hill, once again approaching I-287, but soon swings away from it. Soon, you’ll reach another junction, where the Orange Trail joins from the left. Turn right, following both blue and orange blazes, and cross a wooden footbridge over a stream, then immediately turn left, continuing to follow the Blue Trail, as the Orange Trail proceeds straight ahead to a lean-to and a picnic shelter.
The Blue Trail climbs steeply, paralleling the edge of a ravine, with cascades in the stream below. It then turns right, passing another lean-to and picnic shelter on the left, and crosses a gravel road (the route of the Orange Trail) diagonally to the left. A short distance beyond, the Blue Trail bears left and begins a steady, steep climb. A short level section provides a brief respite, but the trail soon resumes its steep climb.
As the trail approaches the top of Pequannock Knob, it turns sharply left. Here, a rock outcrop just off the trail to the right offers an unobstructed panoramic view over northern New Jersey, with the New York City skyline visible on the horizon. After climbing some more, you’ll reach the summit of the knob, where the Orange Trail ends on the right. Benches placed on either side of the summit invite you to rest and enjoy the spectacular views. To the east, you can see the New York City skyline, and Cedar Crest Village (a retirement community) is visible below to the west.
When you’re ready to continue, descend from the summit, continuing to follow the Blue Trail. At first, the descent is rather steep, but after turning left at the point of a switchback, the grade moderates. At the base of the descent, you’ll cross a dirt road (the route of the Orange Trail), but continue ahead on the Blue Trail. Soon an orange/blue connecting trail goes off to the right, but you should bear left to continue on the Blue Trail.
The trail now descends along the edge of a ravine, with a stream below to the right. This tranquil, peaceful setting is far removed from the traffic on I-287! The trail turns right to cross the stream on a wooden footbridge and climbs steadily to the crest of a rise. Here, a red/blue connecting trail leaves to the right, but you should bear left to continue on the Blue Trail.
The Blue Trail descends gradually, passing between a rock outcrop on the left and a vernal pond on the right, then crosses the outlet of the pond. Just beyond, another branch of the red/blue connecting trail leaves to the right, but you should continue ahead on the Blue Trail.
After descending some more, a black-stripe-on-blue connecting trail begins on the left. You should bear right to continue along the Blue Trail, which climbs to skirt a huge rock outcrop and then descends through a valley. After passing a dramatic cliff on the right, the Blue Trail ends at the trailhead parking area where the hike began.
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/04/2012 updated/verified on 06/17/2021
This loop hike climbs to a panoramic viewpoint over northern New Jersey and the New York City skyline.
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.