Ramapo Mountain State Forest
I-287 to Exit 57, Skyline Drive to the Lower Parking area (GPS: 41.047512, -74.251392) and Upper parking lot ( "No Parking" signs on the shoulders of both sides of upper Skyline Drive confine parking to the designated parking area with no overflow allowance). Both of these parking areas often fill up early on weekends. Another parking area is south of I-287 in Oakland on Pool Hollow Road. Also Wolfe Drive in Wanaque for direct access to the Wanaque Ridge Spur.
Easy access is from Back Beach Park (100+ parking spaces -- GPS: 41.034921, -74.285602] and within a mile of a bus stop in Wanaque via the Indian Rock and Cannonball Trails. To reach the Back Beach Park trailhead, take I-287 to Exit 55. Turn right at the bottom of the ramp onto Union Avenue, then turn left at light onto Ringwood Avenue [County 511), following the signs for "Wanaque." Continue for 0.7 mile to the next light, and turn right onto Second Avenue. At a "stop" sign in 0.3 mile, turn left onto the Boulevard. At the next intersection, bear right to continue on Fourth Avenue. Continue straight ahead on Back Beach Road and follow it to its end at a large parking area. The trailhead is on the right, near the entrance.
- Public Transportation: From the Port Authority Bus Terminal, NJ Transit bus #197 to Ringwood Ave at Burnside Place ("mybus" stop ID 27644) in Wanaque, N.J. Walk to Back Beach Park travelling east on Burnside Place, to Decker Road, to 4th Avenue (15 minutes, 0.8 mile).
From the Port Authority Bus Terminal, NJ Transit bus #197 to Ringwood Ave at Burnside Place ("mybus" stop ID 27644) in Wanaque, N.J. Walk to Back Beach Park travelling east on Burnside Place, to Decker Road, to 4th Avenue (15 minutes, 0.8 mile).
With elevations ranging from about 200 to 1,100 feet, Ramapo Mountain State Forest has trails with challenging climbs and descents. Some trails offer views of the New York City skyline as well.
The Ramapo Lake Loop, which encircles Ramapo Lake, is a popular hike, accessed from the lower parking area on Skyline Drive via the Ramapo Lake Spur. Ramapo Lake is the hub of the trail system in the 1,400-acre Ramapo Lake Natural Area within the park. The white-blazed Castle Loop and the purple-on-white-blazed Tamarack Loop are both accessed from the upper parking area on Skyline Drive.
- Click on the Web Map link on this site to view the trail network and parking areas with trailheads. Older maps show a parking area on Barbara Drive for the Cannonball Trail, but this parking area and trail access has been closed by the landowner.
- According to this map, the forest has eleven trails within its boundaries, ranging from 0.3 to 6.4 miles; as is noted below, two of these trails extend their length into other parks. The NJ Parks and Forest Service rates nearly all of these as “difficult”. The easiest trail is around Ramapo Lake.
Two thru-trails traverse the forest: the Hoeferlin Memorial Trail [9.6 miles], honoring the noted trailblazer and map-maker, and the Cannonball Trail [7.7 miles]. Part legendary and part historic, the Cannonball Trail is believed to have been a hidden route laid out during the American Revolution to transport cannonballs from the Pompton Furnace towards Stony Point in New York. The Skyline Connector provides a shortcut from the Hoeferlin Trail to the Cannonball Trail. When driving on I-287 at Mile 57 near Oakland you will see the "Cannonball Trail" pedestrian bridge high over the roadway.
The multi-use trails are suitable for hiking, equestrians, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing. Designated uses of the trails are posted at the trailheads and trail crossings. Fishing is allowed with an appropriate NJ license, but not swimming.
To view a list of detailed descriptions of hikes click: (1) Here for hikes in Ramapo Mountain State Forest; (2) and here for hikes that include both the state forest and Camp Glen Gray
Ramapo Mountain State Forest
A rugged 4,269-acre area, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, with elevations ranging from about 200 to 1,100 feet, is a sanctuary for wildlife. Birders are attracted to the forest for its ponds, streams, marshes and one fairly large lake that provide the perfect habitat for bird and other wildlife species. The Ramapo Mountain State Forest, which includes wild lands in the municipalities of Oakland [Bergen County], Pompton Lakes, Ringwood and Wanaque, borders Ringwood State Park and the Ramapo Valley County Reservation, a part of the Bergen County Park System