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Hewitt-Butler/Wyanokie Crest Trail Loop from Otter Hole
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 to Exit 53 (Bloomingdale) and turn left onto Hamburg Turnpike. Upon entering Bloomingdale, the name of the road changes to Main Street. In 1.3 miles (from I-287), you will reach a fork in the road. Bear right, and in another 0.1 mile, turn right (uphill) onto Glenwild Avenue (following the sign to West Milford). Continue ahead for 3.2 miles to a parking area on the right side of the road.
From the eastern end of the parking area, at the sign “Welcome to Bloomingdale,” follow the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail, which heads north and descends to Posts Brook at Otter Hole, where there is an attractive cascade and waterfall. Here, the trail crosses the brook on large boulders.
Just beyond the brook, the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail leaves to the left, and the Hewitt-Butler Trail is joined by the Highlands Trail, with teal diamond blazes. Continue ahead, following the blue and teal diamond blazes along a rocky woods road. When you reach the next Y intersection, take the right fork. The trail continues to ascend for a short distance, and then begins a steady descent.
About half a mile from the start, the trail turns left, leaving the broad woods road that it has been following, and continues to descend. Soon, the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail joins from the right. The two trails run together for only a short distance, and the yellow trail almost immediately leaves to the left.
Turn left, now following the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail, which descends gradually to reach a tributary stream of Posts Brook. For the next mile, the trail traverses one of the most remote and wild areas in Norvin Green State Forest. It closely follows the stream, first paralleling it on the left. It crosses over to the east side of the widely braided stream, ascends gradually along the east bank for a short distance, then crosses back to the west side over large boulders and continues to parallel the stream. The treadway is quite rocky in places, particularly at the stream crossings. There are several cascades along the stream, which is most scenic during periods of high water.
After paralleling the stream for about half a mile, the trail bears left, away from the stream. The rocky terrain ends, and the trail ascends, steeply in places, finally emerging in an open area. Most of the trees in this area were killed by a gypsy moth infestation and drought in 2005-06; only a few relatively young trees remain.
The trail descends slightly through a rocky area and soon ascends to a semi-open area, with many glacial erratics (large boulders) dotting the rock slabs. Another open area, with a large glacial erratic, is soon reached. Finally, the trail arrives at the crest of the ridge. Here, a cairn, a post and a triple-orange blaze mark the start of the orange-blazed Outlaw Trail, which leaves to the right, but you should continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail.
The trail now curves to the south and climbs gradually through a second-growth forest of deciduous trees, with an understory of blueberries and mountain laurel. In a third of a mile, the trail emerges at a viewpoint that overlooks Buck Mountain to the west. The trail now descends through dense mountain laurel thickets. At the base of the descent, it crosses a stream on rocks and reaches a junction with the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail.
The Wyanokie Crest Trail continues ahead to climb Buck Mountain, but you should turn left onto the Otter Hole Trail (also the route of the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail), which follows a pleasant woods road. After a steady descent, you’ll reach a T-intersection with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail. Turn right here, now retracing your steps, and follow the Hewitt-Butler Trail across Posts Brook at the Otter Hole and back to the parking area where the hike began.