Stonetown Circular Trail - Northern Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take Skyline Drive to its northwestern terminus at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County Route 511). Turn right, continue for 3.4 miles, and turn left onto Stonetown Road. (For these 3.4 miles, Greenwood Lake Turnpike closely parallels the Wanaque Reservoir, and the turn onto Stonetown Road is the first left turn that you can make.) Cross the dam of the Monksville Reservoir and continue for 1.2 miles to Lake Riconda Drive. Turn right onto Lake Riconda Drive and continue to the cul-de-sac at the end of the road, where roadside parking is available.
This hike follows a section of the Stonetown Circular Trail (also the route of the Highlands Trail) which traverses Long Pond Ironworks State Park and watershed lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (NJDWSC). The hike begins and ends with fairly steep climbs, but for most of the way, the route you will be following is either level or downhill. On the second half of the hike, which goes through NJDWSC watershed lands east of Stonetown Road, hikers are requested to remain on the marked trails.
At the end of the paved Lake Riconda Drive, you will see three black-diamond-on-teal-diamond blazes on a tree. They mark the start of a connector trail to the Highlands Trail. Follow the black-diamond-on-teal-diamond-blazed trail, which enters the woods on a woods road, then immediately turns left onto a footpath, passing a private home on the left. After crossing a stream, the trail begins to climb Harrison Mountain. At first the climb is gradual, but it soon steepens.
Near the top, the trail turns left and begins to follow along the left side of a power line clearing. Soon, it bears left and reenters the woods. It briefly joins a woods road, then turns right, leaving the road, and continues to climb. After a brief level stretch, the trail crosses a woods road. Just ahead, it bears right, and the climb steepens. At the top of the steep climb, the trail emerges on open rocks under the power lines, with a panoramic 270° view. The Monksville Reservoir is visible to the north, with Windbeam Mountain to the southeast, and Bear and Board Mountains to its north. You’ll want to take a break here and rest from the steep climb.
When you’re ready to continue, follow the black-diamond-on-teal-diamond-blazed trail as it briefly descends, crosses a woods road, quickly bears left and resumes its climb. After a sharp right turn, the connector trail ends at a junction with the red-triangle-on-white-blazed Stonetown Circular Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail at the summit of Harrison Mountain.
Turn right and follow the joint Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail, which begins a steady descent along the north slope of Harrison Mountain. At a viewpoint over the Monksville Reservoir, the trail turns right, crosses under the power lines and continues to descend. After crossing the outlet stream of Lake Riconda, the trail turns right onto a woods road, then immediately bears left and joins another woods road which descends gently and soon approaches the edge of the reservoir. Here, the trail joins a woods road that comes in from the left. The Monksville Dam is visible on the right, and Monks Mountain is on the left, across the reservoir. This is another attractive spot to take a break and enjoy the views.
The Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail bears right and follows the woods road around an arm of the reservoir. It crosses a culvert over a stream (with an interesting stone wall to the right), goes around a locked gate and reaches Stonetown Road. (The gated paved road leading down to the reservoir is the original route of Stonetown Road, drowned under the reservoir when it was filled with water.)
The trail climbs over the guardrail, crosses Stonetown Road diagonally to the left, and reenters the woods at the northern end of the fence on the east side of the road. Follow the red-triangle-on-white and teal diamond blazes as the trail crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, climbs a small rise and continues on a relatively level route. You are now on lands of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, where hikers are requested to remain on the marked trails.
After descending gradually, the trail turns right onto a woods road and crosses a stream on rocks. It then turns left, leaving the woods road, and traverses another relatively level stretch. The trail crosses a woods road and then a stream bordered by an old stone wall. It climbs to another woods road and turns left to follow the road, which descends to cross a stream, then climbs gradually. In a third of a mile, follow the Stonetown Circular/Highlands Trail as it turns left, leaving the road (watch carefully for the double blaze), and continues on a footpath.
A short distance ahead, you’ll reach a junction where another connector trail, also marked with a black diamond on a teal diamond, begins. Turn right and follow this connector trail, which climbs very gently. After turning left onto a woods road, the trail levels off. It turns right onto another woods road, then turns left onto a footpath and begins to climb more steeply. Along the way, it crosses a woods road and intersects with several other footpaths.
At a T-intersection of footpaths at the crest of the rise, the trail turns right, briefly descends, then turns left onto a wide woods road. In another 300 feet, the connector trail ends at paved White Road. Turn right and follow this quiet residential road downhill for half a mile to Stonetown Road, then turn left and follow Stonetown Road for a quarter mile to Lake Riconda Drive. Turn right onto Lake Riconda Drive and follow it to its end, where the hike began.