Wyanokie High Point Loop from the New Weis Center
Directions to trailhead
Take Skyline Drive to its northwestern end at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County Route 511). Turn left and proceed south for 1.6 miles to West Brook Road. Turn right onto West Brook Road and cross the Wanaque Reservoir on a causeway. At the next T junction, turn left, then take the second left onto Snake Den Road. Continue for 0.6 mile to a large dirt parking area on the right side of the road, just before the entrance to the New Weis Center. GPS address: 150 Snake Den Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456.
The hike begins at the western end of the parking area, where a gatepost with a triple light-green blaze marks the start of the Otter Hole Trail. You'll be following this trail for the next 0.4 mile. Go around the gate and continue along the driveway leading into the New Weis Center. Bear right at the first fork, but turn left at a kiosk, following the light-green blazes and "to trails" signs. (If you have a dog, you need to continue on Snake Den Road, as per the signs.)
At a second kiosk, the trail turns right to skirt the Highlands Natural Pool (here, the "L" Trail joins briefly). This pool is fed by the brook and is not chlorinated. For more information on this pool, see www.highlandspool.com. The trail briefly joins a dirt road, then bears left and ascends on a footpath, passing cascades in the brook and the weir that regulates the supply of water to the pool.
After crossing a footbridge over the brook, the green-blazed Otter Hole Trail proceeds through a rocky area and reaches a wide woods road - the continuation of Snake Den Road. Here, the Otter Hole Trail turns right and follows the road, but you should cross the road at a kiosk and continue ahead on the joint Mine (yellow-on-white) and Hewitt-Butler (blue) Trails. The joint trails ascend on a footpath through mountain laurel and then climb more steeply through a rocky area, with rock steps provided for part of the way.
The trails level off and reach a junction where they split. The Mine Trail turns left, but you should continue ahead, following the blue blazes of the Hewitt-Butler Trail. After climbing over rocks, the trail briefly levels off, then bears right and begins a steady climb. At the top, a rock outcrop to the right of the trail offers a west-facing view, with Assiniwikam Mountain visible to the right (northwest). After crossing several rock ledges, the white-blazed Macopin Trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the Hewitt-Butler Trail. You'll now climb to a balanced rock atop a rock ledge, with views west, east and north.
After a relatively level stretch, you'll reach a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail (also the route of the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail). Turn left and follow these trails, which make a short but steep climb to the summit of Wyanokie High Point. The last part of the climb is over bare rock, with the trail marked by blazes painted on the rock.
The summit offers panoramic views to the southeast over the Wanaque Reservoir. To the east, beyond the reservoir, you can see a long bridge carrying I-287 over a low area and, on a clear day, the New York City skyline may be seen on the horizon. To the north and west are Saddle, Assiniwikam and Buck Mountains.
After spending some time savoring the views from this magnificent location, surrounded by pitch pines, follow the red-and-white and teal diamond blazes as they descend from the summit, passing more views of the Wanaque Reservoir along the way. The trees in this area have died as a result of droughts and gypsy moth infestations (although some are startng to regenerate), so the blazes are painted on rocks. A section of the trail descending from High Point is poorly blazed, but the trail is clear and evident.
The trail eventually goes back into the woods and bears left, with the descent becoming less steep. At the base of the descent, the white-blazed Lower Trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the red-on-white-blazed Wyanokie Circlar Trail. Just beyond, the trail crosses a stream on rocks, and soon afterwards, the yellow-on-white Mine Trail joins from the left. Proceed ahead, now following three different trail blazes.
A short distance ahead, you'll notice on the left the ruins of a stone shelter, constructed by members of the Green Mountain Club in the 1930s. The trail now approaches Blue Mine Brook. Just before reaching the brook, there is a circular mine pit to the right of the trail, with a small pile of tailings (discarded waste rock) to its left. The trail crosses the brook on a wooden footbridge, built as an Eagle Scout project in 2002.
Turn right after crossing the footbridge and proceed ahead for about 100 feet. To the left is the Blue Mine, filled with muddy water. This mine, named for the dark blue color of its ore, was discovered by Peter Hasenclever about 1765 and was worked extensively in the 1800s. A large concrete pad at the entrance to the mine, with protruding iron rods, once served as a base for steam-operated equipment.
Go back to the footbridge (do not recross it). Just beyond, the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail diverges to the right, but you should continue ahead on the joint Mine/Wyanokie Circular Trails, which follow a rocky woods road. Bear left at a fork and continue ahead for about a quarter of a mile until the two trails separate. Here, you should turn right and follow the yellow-on-white blazes of the Mine Trail, which climbs on a narrow woods road, once used to access the Roomy Mine. At the top of a rather steep pitch, the Mine Trail bears right, but you should bear left to continue on the orange-blazed Roomy Mine Trail.
At the top of the rise, the entrance to the Roomy Mine is on the right. Named for Benjamin Roome, a local land surveyor, the mine was opened shortly after 1840 and worked until 1857. The mine shaft extends about 60 feet into the hillside. The mine is closed to the public in the fall and winter to protect hibernating bats, but it is open from April 15th to September 15th. To enter the mine, one first must crawl into an antechamber, but the mine shaft itself is over six feet high. Make sure to bring along a flashlight or headlamp!
Continue to follow the orange blazes of the Roomy Mine Trail along the mine road. Soon, the trail bears right onto another road (the red-on-white-blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail ends here). After climbing a little, turn left at a huge boulder and continue to follow the Roomy Mine Trail, which climbs over a rise and passes interesting rock outcrops.
After a jog to the right, the trail crosses Blue Mine Brook above a waterfall, turns right and briefly follows the brook, then turns left, away from the brook. The trail parallels a rocky escarpment on the right and continues to a junction with the yellow-on-white-blazed Mine Trail. Here, the Roomy Mine Trail ends, and you should turn right onto the Mine Trail. The trail is level at first, then climbs steadily. Near the top, you'll pass some interesting jumbled boulders and rock outcrops on the right.
At the top of the climb, turn right, joining the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail. Now following both blue and yellow-on-white blazes, descend steeply to Snake Den Road, here a dirt road. The Hewitt-Butler and Mine Trails end here, but you should cross the road and continue ahead on the green-blazed Otter Hole Trail, retracing your steps past the Highlands Natural Pool and along Blue Mine Brook and ending at the parking area where the hike began.