At the southern end of the parking area, a triple black-square-on-blue blaze marks the start of the Ramapo Lake Spur. Follow the trail into the woods, passing stone ruins. After going up a steep pitch, the trail continues to climb on a wide, rocky path, paralleling a ca...
At the southern end of the parking area, a triple black-square-on-blue blaze marks the start of the Ramapo Lake Spur. Follow the trail into the woods, passing stone ruins. After going up a steep pitch, the trail continues to climb on a wide, rocky path, paralleling a cascading brook (particularly attractive after heavy rains).
As you approach the crest of the rise, you'll cross a stream on rocks. A short distance beyond, the white-blazed Castle Loop joins from the right. Just ahead, the trails bear left at a fork and descend to a trail junction at Ramapo Lake, where the Ramapo Lake Spur ends (there are street signs at the junction for South Shore Drive, North Shore Drive and Rye Cliff Road). Here, you should turn left, crossing the dam of Ramapo Lake.
On the other side of the dam, a triple blue-on-white blaze marks the start of the Ramapo Lake Loop. You will be following this trail in a clockwise direction around the lake. Just ahead, the red-on-white-blazed LeGrande Hill Loop begins on the left, and for the next 500 feet, the route is co-blazed with red-on-white markers. Continue to follow the blue-on-white blazes along the wide gravel road, which runs close to the lakeshore, with views across the lake. To the north, atop a hill with several pines, you can see the ruins of Foxcroft, a mansion built in 1910 which fell into disrepair in the 1950s. (The Castle Loop, which leads to the ruins of this mansion, is another great hike in this area.)
The road proceeds through dense vegetation, crosses a causeway over an arm of the lake, and passes a swamp on the left and several interesting rock outcrops. It then moves away from the lakeshore but continues to parallel it, with views over the lake through the trees.
Just past the southern end of the lake, about a mile from the dam, the road reaches a T-intersection. Here, the red/blue LeGrande-Lake Connector begins on the left, but you should turn right to continue on the Ramapo Lake Loop. Then, in another 300 feet, bear right at a Y-intersection where the Cannonball Trail, marked by white-“C”-on-red blazes, joins from the left.
You’re now heading north through dense vegetation, paralleling the western shore of Ramapo Lake. At first, the road runs some distance from the water, but after a while, the lake can be seen through the trees. In half a mile, you’ll pass a building on the hillside to the left (formerly used as a ranger station) and, a short distance beyond, a rock ledge to the right of the trail offers a pleasant view of the lake.
Soon, another gravel road joins from the left. Follow the road ahead, crossing a stone causeway that isolates a quiet pond on the left from the main body of the lake. Next, you’ll reach another Y-intersection. Here, the Cannonball Trail turns left onto an intersecting gravel road, but you should bear right and continue to follow the blue-on-white blazes. A short distance ahead, you'll notice a triple-blue blaze on the right. Follow this blue-blazed side trail for 500 feet to a rock outcrop overlooking the lake. After taking in the view, return to the Ramapo Lake Loop and turn right.
After passing a small, abandoned stone building on the right, you’ll come to another intersection. Here, you should bear right, once more joining the white-blazed Castle Loop.
Follow the white and blue-on-white-blazed gravel road that runs close to the shore along the northern end of the lake, passing a viewpoint over the lake from a rock ledge on the right. Soon, you'll pass a private residence on a ledge to the left. At the end of the lake, a triple blue-on-white blaze marks the end of the Ramapo Lake Loop. Continue ahead to a T-intersection with street signs, proceed through a gap in the guardrail at a sign for the Castle Loop Trail and the Ramapo Lake Spur Trail, and continue along the black-square-on-blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Spur, retracing your steps back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/09/2003 updated/verified on 03/03/2021
This hike loops around scenic Ramapo Lake.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.