From the southern entrance to the parking area, proceed west, crossing the park entrance road. You’ll notice three blue blazes on a utility pole to the right of a chained-off gravel road, which mark the start of the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail. Just ahead, the Rocky Ridge Trail splits into two branches. You should continue ahead along the gravel road, soon crossing under high-voltage power...
From the southern entrance to the parking area, proceed west, crossing the park entrance road. You’ll notice three blue blazes on a utility pole to the right of a chained-off gravel road, which mark the start of the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail. Just ahead, the Rocky Ridge Trail splits into two branches. You should continue ahead along the gravel road, soon crossing under high-voltage power lines and passing a yellow steel gate.
About 500 feet from the start, you’ll notice three red-on-white blazes on either side of the trail, which mark the start and end of the Old Cedar Trail. Turn left, leaving the gravel road, and follow the red-on-white blazes. The Old Cedar Trail now proceeds through an oak-beech forest, passing a park building to the left. It soon crosses the wide route of the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail, continues through a low area with abundant surface roots, and recrosses under the power lines.
After crossing the park entrance road diagonally to the right, the Old Cedar Trail proceeds between the park entrance road on the right and I-287 on the left. It crosses several wet areas on wooden bridges and goes over an old stone wall, then loops back to the park entrance road. Here, the silver-on-white-blazed Silver Trail begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the red-on-white blazed Old Cedar Trail, which crosses the paved road and goes over an intermittent stream on a wooden footbridge. After a short climb, it bears right, then turns left and again passes under the power lines.
Just beyond, the green-blazed Beeches Trail proceeds straight ahead, but you should turn sharply left, following the red-on-white blazes of the Old Cedar Trail. You’ve now left the developed portion of the park, and the trail begins a steady, gradual ascent. It bears right to cross a stream and then turns left to parallel it. Soon, the trail bears right, away from the stream, and continues its winding, gentle ascent. Along the way, you’ll pass the western trailhead of the Silver Trail.
As you reach the crest of the ridge, the blue-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail briefly joins from the right. When the two trails diverge, bear left to continue on the red-on-white-blazed the Old Cedar Trail, which begins to descend. After leveling off and winding along the backslope of Campgaw Mountain, it again climbs to the summit ridge.
As it nears the crest of the ridge, the Old Cedar Trail crosses two stone walls. Just beyond, a building at the top of the ski area may be seen through the trees on the right. Here, the yellow-blazed Backslope Trail begins on the left. Turn right and follow a blue/red-on-white-blazed connector trail to an expansive east-facing viewpoint at the top of the ski slope. To the left are the hills of Harriman Park, and in the center is northern Bergen County, with Mahwah in the foreground. The Palisades can be seen on the horizon, and a portion of the Manhattan skyline may be visible to the far right on a clear day. This is a good place to take a break.
After you’ve rested a little and enjoyed the view, return to the trail on the southwest side of the clearing. Turn right and retrace your steps along the blue/red-on-white-blazed connector trail, which heads northwest. When you reach the end of the blue/red connector trail, turn right and rejoin the red-on-white-blazed Old Cedar Trail, which curves to the east and descends gradually. In about half a mile, it reaches the northwest corner of the large parking lot for the ski area. The trail turns left and follows the stone curbing along the edge of the parking lot and the entrance road.
Near the merge of the exit road from the parking lot, the trail bears left, reenters the woods, and descends along the hillside. It turns left and crosses Fyke Brook on a wooden bridge. The Old Cedar Trail then curves left, bears right, and gradually ascends to reach a junction with the pink-blazed Dogwood Lane Trail.
Turn right, and follow the joint Old Cedar/Dogwood Lane Trail, which parallels a stone wall on the left. After crossing the paved ski area access road, it follows a wide path parallel to the park entrance road, with Fyke Pond visible through the trees on the right. In about 500 feet, you’ll reach a complex trail junction, marked by several signs. Turn sharply left here and follow the pink-blazed Dogwood Lane Trail for 300 feet to the park entrance road. Continue across the road to the main parking area and turn right to reach the southern end of the parking area where you began the hike.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 11/21/2002 updated/verified on 02/08/2017
This loop hike climbs gradually to the summit of Campgaw Mountain, with a sweeping view of Bergen County 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.