Mountainside Park (Pequannock, NJ) Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 South to Exit 52 (Riverdale/Wayne/Butler) and bear left at the fork to continue on NJ 23 South. In 0.7 mile, turn right onto County Alt. 511, then immediately turn right again onto West Parkway. In 0.8 mile, turn right onto Mountain Avenue, and continue for 1.0 mile (passing under I-287) to a dead-end at the parking area for Mountainside Park.
With the park situated right next to I-287, traffic noise is inevitable but it won’t follow along throughout the entire hike. Take the blue-blazed trail up the steps in front of the kiosk at the far end of the parking lot, and bear right at the fork just ahead. Elevation gain will start to subdue the roar of cars and trucks below. Turn left on the orange-blazed trail 0.5 mile into the hike to deaden the traffic sound a little more. The blue trail joins back in before crossing a bridge at a Boy Scout shelter. Make left on blue after the bridge, where the orange trail continues straight ahead.
Stay on the blue trail which will lead to your destination, the mountain straight ahead, which can be seen when there is no foliage. The ascent becomes steep, just short of a rock scramble, so expect an effort to reach the views. At the top, 1.1 miles into the hike, the traffic noise is long gone and benches invite a break from the climb up. To the left the New York City skyline can be seen on the horizon and a bench on the other side of the kiosk to the right overlooks the mountains of northern New Jersey.
Leave the mountaintop, continuing on the blue-blazed trail, which descends somewhat more gradually than the steep ascent.
Cross over the orange-blazed trail again (woods road), then shortly thereafter bear left to continue on the blue trail, as an orange/blue connectiing trail begins on the right. At the next junction, turn right onto a red/blue connecting trail and bear right at the following junction. Continue on the red/blue connecting trail until it ends at a junction with the red trail (at a bench). Turn left onto the red trail, which ascends, but not as steeply as the blue-blazed trail. You will catch a break every so often with a flat stretch before the trail ascends again until it reaches the top and follows along a ridge.
At another bench, turn right onto a black-stripe-on-red connecting trail for 250 feet, then turn left onto the western leg of the red trail. The red trail leads down between massive rock formations into a pleasant wooded valley. After parallelling a stream on the right, you'll come to the end of the loop of the red trail. Continue ahead on a black-square-on-red connecting trail, with noise from the traffic now starting to increase. Follow this connecting trail to a kiosk and a metal gate, and turn left onto the road to reach the parking area where the hike began.
NOTE: The Director of Pequannock Parks and Recreation has confirmed that leashed dogs are permitted and the signs in the parking lot are to be corrected if they still show that dogs are not allowed.