Castle Point Trail - Longer Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 to Exit 57 (Skyline Drive) and proceed north on Skyline Drive for about one mile to the upper parking area for Ramapo Mountain State Forest on the left side of the road, just beyond milepost 1.4, opposite the entrance to Camp Tamarack.
Cross to the east side of Skyline Drive, where a triple-white blaze on a telephone pole opposite the parking area marks the start of the Todd Trail. Follow this white-blazed trail as it winds downhill on a rocky footpath and then ascends from a shallow ravine. In half a mile, the trail turns right onto a woods road. Follow the white blazes as they bear left onto another woods road, soon passing the trailhead for the Yellow Trail on the left, and then turn right into the woods. The Todd Trail ascends to a grassy knoll, which affords a panoramic view over Oakland (on the left), with Crystal Lake in the foreground.
From the viewpoint, the trail turns sharply right, makes a short, steep descent and follows along the side of a hill. After descending and crossing an old paved road, the trail turns left onto a woods road. Continue to follow the white blazes as the trail passes several intersecting woods roads, then turns left, leaving the road, and climbs to cross Skyline Drive, a mile and a half from the start of the hike.
On the other side of Skyline Drive, the Todd Trail crosses a wooden footbridge and ascends a knoll, then descends through a mountain-laurel thicket. After a level stretch, the Todd Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail. Turn right, cross a stream, and follow the blue blazes along a wide woods road towards Ramapo Lake. Soon, the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail joins from the right. Continue ahead, now following both blue and yellow blazes.
Soon, the trail bears left and descends a short pitch to the dam of Ramapo Lake (just to the left). Here, the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail turns left, crossing the dam, but you should continue ahead onto North Shore Drive, following the blue blazes of the MacEvoy Trail. The MacEvoy Trail follows a gravel road along the northeast shore of the lake, passing a private home on the right and then crossing a small stream on a stone-arch bridge, with an attractive cascade to the right.
A short distance beyond, you’ll come to a rock ledge on the left that overlooks the lake. This is a good place to take a break. Once known as Rotten Pond, and later as Lake LeGrande, Ramapo Lake is the centerpiece of Ramapo Mountain State Forest. It was formerly surrounded by private property, but most of the land around the lake was acquired by the state in the 1970s.
Just beyond, the trail reaches the northern tip of Ramapo Lake. Here, a triple-white blaze marks the start of the Castle Point Trail. Bear right at the fork in the road, now following both white and blue blazes, and pass between two concrete pillars. A short distance ahead, the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the road, now following only the white blazes of the Castle Point Trail. Just beyond, as the road curves sharply to the right, turn left, leaving the road, and follow the white-blazed trail as it climbs steadily and rather steeply.
As you approach the top of the climb, bear left onto a rock ledge that offers a spectacular view. Directly below you is Ramapo Lake, with the Wanaque Reservoir to the right (west). On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline on the horizon to the left. You’ll want to pause here to rest from the steep climb and enjoy the view.
When you’re ready to continue, follow the white trail uphill. After climbing over a stone wall on a step-stile, you’ll reach the ruins of a mansion. Known as Foxcroft, it was built around 1910 by William Porter, a stockbroker. His widow occupied it until her death in 1940, and it fell into ruin in the late 1950s. Use caution if you wish to explore the remains of this once-elegant stone structure.
The trail continues to the north, passing the remains of a concrete swimming pool. Just beyond, the trail bears left and soon reaches an unobstructed west-facing viewpoint over the Wanaque Reservoir and the Wyanokie Mountains. Continue on the white trail, which climbs to a stone tower. Contrary to what one might think at first glance, this was not a lookout tower; rather, it held a cistern that supplied water to the mansion (note the rusted pipes adjacent to the tower). Just beyond, there is another view from an open rock ledge to the left of the trail over the Wanaque Reservoir to the west. The trail now begins to descend.
Watch carefully as the Castle Point Trail briefly turns left onto a woods road, then immediately turns right before reaching the route of a gas pipeline. It turns right again onto a woods road, turns left onto a footpath before reaching a wide gravel road, then turns right and follows the gas pipeline for 350 feet. After turning right and leaving the pipeline, the trail crosses a stream and climbs, first gradually, then rather steeply through mountain laurel, to a rock ledge with a broad view. From the ledge, you may be able to see the stone tower you passed about half a mile back.
A short distance beyond, the Castle Point Trail ends at a paved road, the route of the Cannonball Trail. Turn left and follow the road for 125 feet to Skyline Drive, then cross Skyline Drive and enter the woods, following the white-"C"-on-red blazes. Soon, you will reach an intersection with the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail. Turn sharply right and follow the yellow trail as it ascends through mountain laurel. After descending steeply from a rock outcrop, a sign points the way to an Indian shelter, believed to have been used by the Native Americans during their hunting season. From here, it is only a short distance ahead to Skyline Drive and the parking area where the hike began.