Know the New Hiking How-tos
Tamarack/Todd Hill Loop from Skyline Drive
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 to Exit 57 (Skyline Drive) and proceed north on Skyline Drive for 1.2 miles to the upper parking area for Ramapo Mountain State Forest (on the left, opposite milepost 1.4).
This relatively short loop hike passes through the sites of two former Boy Scout camps – Camp Tamarack and Camp Todd. Each of these camps was situated on a lake, and the hike runs along the shores of both Lake Tamarack and Todd Lake. A number of relics from these camps are visible along the way (Camp Todd closed in 1985, and Camp Tamarack in 1995). Although the hike begins and ends in Ramapo Mountain State Forest, both lakes are located on property owned by Bergen County.
From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will see a triple purple-on-white blaze on a telephone pole, marking the start of the Tamarack Loop. Follow the purple-on-white blazes which turn right onto the paved road that leads into the former Camp Tamarack, then immediately turn left at a kiosk and proceed downhill on a winding footpath.
At the base of the descent, the trail passes the ruins of the former camp rifle range (on the left). Just ahead, with the ruins of the former archery range visible on the left, a triple-orange blaze marks the start of the Schuber Trail. You should turn right, continuing to follow the purple-on-white-blazed Tamarack Loop along a level footpath. The trail soon reaches the shore of Lake Tamarack. A rock ledge on the left affords a view over the lake, with a stone chimney visible across the lake on the left and remnants of the former waterfront docks on the right.
The trail continues along the lakeshore, soon passing the concrete-and-stone foundations of the former camp waterfront buildings. Here, on the left, another rock ledge offers views over the lake (note the plaque for the “Jack Brady Memorial Pier”). After passing a balanced boulder (note the plaque in memory of Walter Bever, Jr., on the lake side of the boulder), you’ll come to a third viewpoint over the lake. The trail now moves away from the lake, joining a woods road. (To the left, the road leads to the stone dam of the lake, with an attractive waterfall when the water is high.) The trail follows the road for 100 feet, then bears left, leaving the road.
Just ahead, you'll pass on the left a stone chimney and concrete foundation -- remnants of a structure that once was part of Camp Tamarack. A short distance beyond, you'll reach a T-intersection. The Yellow Trail (blazed with yellow diamonds) begins on the left, but you should turn right to continue along the Tamarack Loop, which now descends a little, passing cliffs on the left. Just ahead, 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. Here, on the left, a triple-green-on-white blaze marks the start of the Todd Hill Trail.
Turn left onto the road, now following green-on-white blazes. In 200 feet, follow the trail as it turns right, leaving the road, and climbs gently on a footpath. After crossing an open area at the crest of the rise, the trail descends slightly to reach a southeast-facing viewpoint. The trail now bears left and continues to descend, passing another viewpoint, which overlooks the Borough of Oakland, on the left.
Be alert for a sharp right turn at the base of the descent. In a short distance, the trail turns right onto a woods road. Then, in 500 feet, after bearing right at a fork, you'll reach a T-intersection. Turn left, now once again following the purple-on-white blazes of the Tamarack Loop.
In 150 feet, follow the Tamarack Loop as it turns left, leaving the road, and continues on 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.