This relatively short loop hike passes through the sites of two former Boy Scout camps – Camp Tamarack and Camp Todd. Each of these camps was situated on a lake, and the hike runs along the shores of both Lake Tamarack and Todd Lake. A number of relics from these camps are visible along the way (Camp Todd closed in 1985, and Camp Tamarack in 1995). Although the hike begins and ends in Ramapo...
This relatively short loop hike passes through the sites of two former Boy Scout camps – Camp Tamarack and Camp Todd. Each of these camps was situated on a lake, and the hike runs along the shores of both Lake Tamarack and Todd Lake. A number of relics from these camps are visible along the way (Camp Todd closed in 1985, and Camp Tamarack in 1995). Although the hike begins and ends in Ramapo Mountain State Forest, both lakes are located on property owned by Bergen County.
From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will see a sign and a triple purple-on-white blaze on a telephone pole, marking the start of the Tamarack Loop. Follow the purple-on-white blazes, which turn right onto the paved road that leads into the former Camp Tamarack, then immediately turn left at a kiosk and proceed downhill on a winding footpath.
At the base of the descent, the trail turns right (the ruins of the former camp rifle range are visible on the left). Just ahead, a triple-orange blaze marks the start of the Schuber Trail, but you should turn right, continuing to follow the purple-on-white-blazed Tamarack Loop along a level footpath. The trail soon reaches the shore of Lake Tamarack. A rock ledge on the left affords a view over the lake, with a stone chimney visible across the lake on the left and remnants of the former waterfront docks on the right.
The trail continues along the lakeshore, soon passing the concrete-and-stone foundations of the former camp waterfront buildings. Here, on the left, another rock ledge offers views over the lake (note the plaque for the “Jack Brady Memorial Pier”). After passing a balanced boulder (note the plaque in memory of Walter Bever, Jr., on the lake side of the boulder), you’ll come to a third viewpoint over the lake. The trail now moves away from the lake, joining a woods road. (To the left, the road leads to the stone dam of the lake, with an attractive waterfall when the water is high.) The trail follows the road for 100 feet, then bears left, leaving the road.
Just ahead, you'll pass on the left a stone chimney and concrete foundation -- remnants of a structure that once was part of Camp Tamarack. A short distance beyond, you'll reach a T-intersection. The Yellow Trail (blazed with yellow diamonds) begins on the left, but you should turn right to continue along the Tamarack Loop, which now descends a little, passing cliffs on the left. Just ahead, the trail turns right, climbs a little, then descends towards Todd Lake. Soon, the trail reaches a stone wall on a rock ledge at water level, with a view over the lake, and continues to parallel the lake. Near the lake’s south end, the Tamarack Loop turns right, away from the lake. A short distance ahead, it reaches a woods road. Here, on the left, a triple-green-on-white blaze marks the start of the Todd Hill Trail.
Turn left onto the road, now following green-on-white blazes. In 200 feet, follow the trail as it turns right, leaving the road, and climbs gently on a footpath. After crossing an open area at the crest of the rise, the trail descends slightly to reach a southeast-facing viewpoint. The trail now bears left and continues to descend, passing another viewpoint, which overlooks the Borough of Oakland, on the left.
Be alert for a sharp right turn at the base of the descent. In a short distance, the trail turns right onto a woods road. Then, in 500 feet, after bearing right at a fork, you'll reach a T-intersection. Turn left, now once again following the purple-on-white blazes of the Tamarack Loop.
In 150 feet, follow the Tamarack Loop as it turns left, leaving the road, and continues on a footpath into the woods. After dipping into a shallow ravine, the trail begins to climb, first rather steeply, then more gradually. It levels off, descends to cross a seasonal stream in a shallow ravine, then ascends on a winding, rocky footpath, with several switchbacks. When it reaches Skyline Drive, the trail turns right and continues for about 200 feet to the triple purple-on-white blaze marking the terminus of the Tamarack Loop, opposite the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 12/22/2016 updated/verified on 07/13/2021
This relatively short loop hike passes through the sites of two former Boy Scout camps – Camp Tamarack and Camp Todd -- and runs along the shores of two scenic lakes.
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.