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Laurel Pond and Wawayanda Furnace from Cherry Ridge Road
Directions to trailhead
Take Warwick Turnpike (County Route 511) to Clinton Road in West Milford. (If coming from the east, Clinton Road is just beyond a causeway over Upper Greenwood Lake, about two miles west of the intersection of Warwick Turnpike with White Road.) Proceed south on Clinton Road for 0.8 mile, then bear right onto Cherry Ridge Road (at a Y-intersection). After 0.7 mile on Cherry Ridge Road, the pavement ends. Continue on the dirt road for another 0.3 mile to a circular turnaround on the left side of the road. (The green-blazed Banker Trail, which will be your return route, begins here on the right.) Park your car here (take care not to block the road).
Proceed west on unpaved Cherry Ridge Road, soon passing a locked gate. The road descends through beautiful rhododendron thickets to cross a stream, ascends to pass a pond on the left, then descends to cross another stream on a wooden bridge. Although you are walking along a dirt road, the trees form a canopy overhead, and the hiking is very pleasant.
After about a mile of hiking along the road, you’ll notice a triple blaze on a tree on the left, which marks the start of the Red Dot Trail. Continue ahead on Cherry Ridge Road for another few minutes until you reach a T-intersection (ignore the woods road that leaves to the left about 200 feet beyond the intersection with the Red Dot Trail). At the T-intersection, turn left onto the red-blazed Old Coal Trail, another woods road. In about 0.4 mile, you’ll arrive at a Y-intersection. Bear right onto the white-blazed Lookout Trail, which follows a slightly narrower woods road down to Lake Lookout. The grassy area at the northwest end of this secluded lake is a good place to take a break.
Continue ahead on the white-blazed trail, which passes the start of the green-blazed Pickle Trail on the left. The trail now narrows to a footpath and climbs to the top of a rise. Here, the trail bears right and begins to descend gradually through maples, with an understory of ferns. After turning left, the trail climbs gently, levels off, then descends a little to end at Cherry Ridge Road.
Turn right onto Cherry Ridge Road, then (in about 500 feet) turn left onto the yellow-blazed Laurel Pond Trail. This trail follows an old woods road (first laid out as a public road in the beginning of the nineteenth century). It descends gradually through rhododendron thickets, then levels off, passing the orange-blazed Sitting Bear Trail on the left. The Laurel Pond Trail now begins to climb gently, passing interesting rock outcrops on the left. In 0.7 mile, you’ll reach a high point on the trail. Here, the blue-blazed Wingdam Trail leaves to the left. Continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Laurel Pond Trail, which now begins a steady descent. Near the base of the descent, an unmarked trail leads to a rock ledge overlooking the scenic, spring-fed Laurel Pond. A short distance beyond, another unmarked trail descends through rhododendron thickets to the shore of the pond. This is a good place to take a break.
Retrace your steps back to the Laurel Pond Trail and turn left, proceeding north on the yellow-blazed trail. Soon, the trail crosses a wide wooden bridge and emerges onto a grassy area. Continue ahead to the remains of a stone furnace, built in 1845-46 by Oliver Ames and his sons. This charcoal blast furnace, which smelted iron ore from local mines, was used to supply the Union Army during the Civil War.
After taking a look at the furnace, retrace your steps to the junction, with restrooms on your left. Turn left here, cross another bridge, and pass a signpost marking the start of the yellow-blazed Double Pond Trail. Bear left, proceed through a group campsite, and continue along the yellow-blazed woods road. Soon, you’ll cross a stream on a boardwalk and wooden bridge and, just beyond, pass the northern terminus of the Red Dot Trail. Continue ahead on the yellow trail, passing through dense thickets of hemlock, mountain laurel and rhododendron.
About half a mile beyond the stream crossing, you’ll reach a Y-intersection. Bear right, now following the blue-blazed Cedar Swamp Trail. After passing through a deciduous forest, the trail descends to cross the Cedar Swamp -- with its unusual stand of tall, rare inland Atlantic white cedars growing in a very wet environment -- on an 800-foot long boardwalk, then tunnels through extensive rhododendron thickets. After a mile and a half of walking through some of the most spectacular foliage in the park, the Cedar Swamp Trail turns sharply left at a T-intersection and soon ends at a junction with the green-blazed Banker Trail. Turn right and follow the Banker Trail for 0.4 mile to its terminus on Cherry Ridge Road, directly opposite the parking area where the hike began.