Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

July 4, 2022 – Oakland, NJ

Problem: Average

Size: Roughly 3.2 miles

Max elevation: 879 ft.– complete elevation acquire roughly 550 ft.

Route kind: Circuit

Purchase Map: Northern New Jersey Highlands Trails Map 2021

Free Map: Ramapo Mountain State Forest Map 2021

Avenza Maps: Northern New Jersey Highlands (#150 Ramapos Only) 2021

Trailhead parking: Higher Parking Lot – 265 Skyline Drive, Oakland, NJ 07436


Park Overview:

A rugged 4,269-acre space, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, with elevations starting from about 200 to 1,100 ft, is a sanctuary for wildlife. Birders are drawn to the forest for its ponds, streams, marshes and one pretty massive lake that present the proper habitat for hen and different wildlife species. The Ramapo Mountain State Forest, which incorporates wild lands within the municipalities of Oakland (Bergen County), Pompton Lakes, Ringwood and Wanaque, borders Ringwood State Park and the Ramapo Valley County Reservation, part of the Bergen County Park System.

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

The 1,417-acre Ramapo Lake Pure Space throughout the park, provides spectacular views from quite a few rock outcroppings and ledges, and rewards those that settle for the problem of the winding mountain climbing trails and rocky terrain that comprise a lot of the website. A 120-acre clearwater mountain lake offers a great place for fishing and birdwatching. There isn’t any swimming permitted in Ramapo Lake. The realm is open every single day from 8 am to eight pm.

Ramapo Lake – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Ramapo Lake – Ramapo Mountain State Forest


Historical past:

In 1910 inventory dealer William Porter constructed the colossal granite mansion “Foxcroft” on the highest of Fox Hill, chosen for the commanding views it afforded. In 1911, whereas touring again to New York after a weekend at Foxcroft, Porter was killed in an vehicle accident. He was survived by his spouse Ruth Halliwell Porter, who was coming back from a European trip aboard the Lusitania on the time of the crash.

In 1913, Ruth married Warren Van Slyke and renamed their part-time retreat the Van Slyke Fort. When Warren died in 1925, Ruth moved to the fortress completely and remained there till her demise in 1940. On March 1, 1949, the Fort was bought by Celeste and Robin MacFadden, who subsequently bought to Suzanne S. Christie on July 2, 1951. Between 1951 and 1962, Suzanne S. Christie was to grow to be Suzanne S. O’Sullivan then Suzanne Noyes Brussel. As unusual as it might appear, Suzanne (who was the only proprietor) deserted the mansion between husbands, and left it to the mercy of the weather. In 1959, the magnificent construction was decreased to ruins in a hearth of undetermined origin.

On August 18, 1978, Suzanne Brussel bought the ruins to Bruce Ademski of the Ademski and Van Saun House Enchancment Firm. Ademski then subdivided the 15.9 acre parcel into three 5 acre heaps. On February 22, 1980 the State of New Jersey filed a “Declaration of Taking;” which knowledgeable Ademski that his heaps would quickly be seized by the NJDEP at a non-negotiable value. Shortly after the receipt of this doc, Ademski’s heaps grew to become a part of Ramapo Mountain State Forest.

Within the early a part of the twentieth century, Clifford MacEvoy bought about 2600-acres of what would grow to be Ramapo Mountain State Forest. In 1976 the realm grew to become state lands utilizing Inexperienced Acres and federal funds. The vast majority of Park acreage was conveyed by the trustee of the Clifford MacEvoy property to the State of New Jersey to be included as a part of the present Ramapo State Forest.


Trails Overview:

The state forest constructed a community of mountain climbing trails with the assistance of the New Jersey Youth Conservation Corps in 1978, a few of that are nonetheless in use as we speak. The forest was sadly sliced in two by the controversial extension of Route 287 within the early 1990’s by the NJ Division of Transportation. A footbridge was constructed over the freeway alongside the Cannonball Path to mitigate this challenge.

Ramapo Mountain State Forest contains 18 official trails, totaling greater than 29 miles. Trails range in size from lower than 1 mile to 10 miles and lots of trails proceed past Ramapo Mountain State Forest into adjoining County and State lands. Many multi-use trails are appropriate for mountain climbing, mountain biking, horseback driving, and cross-country snowboarding. Please obey all designated makes use of of the paths posted at trailheads and path crossings.

As of September 2020, modifications had been made to the path system In Ramapo Mountain State Forest. The modifications had been sparked by an increase in visitation, which has been accompanied by an increase in misplaced hikers, resulting in a persistent want for the providers of native search and rescue. The enhancements embody altering blaze colours and creating new trails. Having an up-to-date path map is paramount earlier than heading into the woods.

The brand new Fort Loop Path (white blazes), makes use of present trails to create a loop hike choice from the Higher Car parking zone on Skyline Drive. The path was re-blazed with added signage and in some areas rerouted and/or mixed with shorter path segments into bigger, coherent loops, to significantly improve the customer expertise.

Though you’re following just one path coloration on this hike, cautious consideration needs to be paid to the place the blazes go. Sure areas may gain advantage from a easy painted arrow on a tree indicating course or an additional blaze right here or there, as there are quite a few situations the place the path is rerouted alongside present footpaths/woods roads which are effectively overwhelmed and might result in confusion. The picture under is an ideal instance. The lone white blaze (circled) is correct on the junction and may gain advantage from a left flip indicator or a painted arrow pointing left. The following blaze is a long way down the path and tough to see. The unmarked path on the fitting is a extra well-trodden path than the blazed path.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

My recommendation is to make the most of the free Avenza Maps app, utilizing an up-to-date path map to navigate your method round, in any other case you might be left scratching your head all through the hike.


Hike Overview:

This widespread day hike is greatest executed early mornings or weekdays. We arrived about 7:45am on July 4th and there have been solely two autos within the lot. On the conclusion of the hike, the lot was full.

Upper Parking Lot - Skyline Drive - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Higher Parking Lot – Skyline Drive – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

I did an analogous hike in January of 2020 earlier than the implementation of the path enhancements. I wished to replace the hike on this website and the 4th of July was nearly as good a time as any. To be trustworthy, I don’t keep in mind any navigational points on our first hike earlier than the “enhancements.” Quite a few occasions on this hike we needed to cease and survey the realm looking for blazes. A number of the re-routes are made extra complicated by the position of the blazes and a few junctions might use some directional blazes. Having been right here earlier than, I had a good suggestion of the place I used to be going, however a primary time customer or novice might run into some difficulties. Backside line is that you need to pay cautious consideration to the path blazes and at occasions cease and search out the subsequent blaze or flip round and search for blazes going within the different course.

We did this hike clockwise, however I consider extra folks do the hike counterclockwise. The indicators on the kiosk point out left to “Ramapo Lake” and going proper to “Fort Ruins.” The general public we noticed, had been getting in the other way.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

This clockwise loop begins and ends on the Higher Car parking zone on Skyline Drive.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Though there are a number of steep sections, the general elevation is usually average.

elevation profile - Castle Loop Trail

elevation profile – Fort Loop Path

This hike may be mixed with the LeGrande Hill Loop or the Ramapo Lake Loop.


The Hike:

Within the heart of the parking space, you will note three white blazes on a tree alongside an indication and a bench, marking the beginning and finish of the Fort Loop Path. This path will likely be your route for your complete hike. Observe the white blazes a brief distance on a foot path to a kiosk the place the path splits. The best fork will likely be your return route, however for now bear left and comply with the Fort Loop Path in direction of Ramapo Lake. After passing an fascinating rock outcrop on the fitting, you’ll come to a Y-intersection, the place the white-blazed path bears proper and begins to descend.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Simply as we had been passing the kiosk, two folks getting in the other way informed us they noticed a Black Bear only a few ft down the path and confirmed us an image that they took on their cellphone. Not wanting to change our route, we proceeded within the course of the place the bear was noticed, however noticed no sight or sound of stated bear. We had been now on excessive alert for your complete hike.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Quickly, a gravel highway briefly seems on the fitting, however bear left to remain on the white-blazed path, which follows a rocky woods highway over undulating terrain. The highway finally narrows to a footpath and crosses an intermittent stream. After descending on a winding route and as soon as once more briefly approaching the gravel highway, the Fort Loop Path heads right down to a woods highway – the route of the black-square-on-blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Spur.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Flip proper, now following each white and black-square-on-blue blazes. Quickly, the paths bear left and descend a brief pitch to Ramapo Lake (the dam of the lake is simply to the left; don’t cross it). Right here, the black-square-on-blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Spur ends.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

You must proceed forward onto North Shore Drive (marked by a avenue signal), following the white blazes of the Fort Loop Path, now joined by the blue-on-white blazes of the Ramapo Lake Loop (which begins right here). The joint trails comply with a gravel highway alongside the northeast shore of the lake, passing a non-public dwelling on the fitting after which crossing a small stream on a stone-arch bridge, with a gorgeous cascade on the fitting.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Ramapo Lake Natural Area

Ramapo Lake Pure Space

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

A brief distance past, you’ll come to a rock ledge on the left that overlooks the lake. This can be a good place to take a break. As soon as often called Rotten Pond, and later as Lake LeGrande, Ramapo Lake is the centerpiece of Ramapo Mountain State Forest. It was previously surrounded by personal property, however a lot of the land across the lake was acquired by the state within the 1970’s.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Simply past, the paths attain the northern tip of Ramapo Lake. Right here, you must bear proper on the fork within the highway, now following solely white blazes, and move between two concrete pillars. A brief distance forward, the white-“C”-on-red-blazed Cannonball Path joins from the left. Simply past, because the highway curves sharply to the fitting, flip left, leaving the highway, and comply with the white-blazed Fort Loop Path because it climbs steadily and slightly steeply.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

As you strategy the highest of the climb, bear left onto a rock ledge that gives a spectacular view. Straight under you is Ramapo Lake, with the Wanaque Mountains to the fitting (west). You’ll wish to pause right here to relaxation from the steep climb and benefit from the view.

rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Once you’re able to proceed, comply with the white-blazed path uphill. After climbing over a stone wall on a step-stile, There may be an unmarked footpath on the left that results in an analogous view because the one earlier than it, with Ramapo Lake seen under. On a transparent day, you possibly can see the New York Metropolis skyline on the horizon to the left.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from 2nd rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from 2nd rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from 2nd rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from 2nd rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from 2nd rock ledge - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

view from 2nd rock ledge – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Retrace your steps to the Fort Loop Path and switch left. In a couple of ft, you’ll attain the ruins of a mansion. Generally known as Foxcroft, it was constructed round 1910 by William Porter, a stockbroker. It was renamed Van Slyke Fort in 1913 after his widow married Warren Van Slyke. She occupied it till her demise in 1940, and it fell into wreck within the late 1950’s. Use warning in case you want to discover the stays of this once-elegant stone construction.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Castle ruins - Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Van Slyke Fort ruins – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

The path continues to the north on a footpath (ignore the 2 woods roads that depart from the ruins), passing the stays of a concrete swimming pool. Simply past, the path bears left and shortly reaches an unobstructed west-facing viewpoint over the Wanaque Reservoir and the Wyanokie Mountains.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Proceed on the white-blazed path, which climbs to a stone tower. Opposite to what one would possibly suppose at first look, this was not a lookout tower; slightly, it held a cistern that equipped water to the mansion (be aware the rusted pipes adjoining to the tower). Simply past, there’s one other view from an open rock ledge to the left of the path over the Wanaque Reservoir to the west. The path now begins to descend.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

cistern - Castle Loop Trail

cistern – Fort Loop Path

cistern - Castle Loop Trail

cistern – Fort Loop Path

cistern - Castle Loop Trail

cistern – Fort Loop Path

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Watch rigorously because the Fort Loop briefly turns left onto a woods highway, then instantly turns proper onto a footpath earlier than reaching the route of a gasoline pipeline. It turns proper once more onto a woods highway, turns left onto a footpath earlier than reaching a large gravel highway, then turns proper and follows the gasoline pipeline for 350 ft. After turning proper and leaving the pipeline, the path crosses a seasonal stream and climbs, first step by step, then slightly steeply by way of mountain laurel, to a rock ledge with a broad view. From the ledge, you could possibly see the stone tower you handed about half a mile again.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

A brief distance past, the Fort Loop Path reaches a paved highway, with Skyline Drive simply to the left. Flip proper onto the highway, additionally the route of the Cannonball Path (white-“C”-on-red blazes). The paths comply with the highway for 200 ft, then flip left onto a footpath by way of the woods. Quickly, you’ll attain a junction the place the 2 trails diverge. Flip left and comply with the white-blazed Fort Loop Path alongside a footpath roughly parallel to Skyline Drive till you attain the parking space the place the hike started.

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

terminus of Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

terminus of Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest


Assessment:

An fulfilling hike with quite a few factors of curiosity. Though you’re following a single path for your complete hike, you need to pay shut consideration to the blazes. There are quite a few reroutes, footpaths and woods roads that intersect or department off the Fort Loop Path. The fortress ruins are higher seen in leaf-off season when they’re much less hid by the foliage. This can be a widespread place to hike, particularly within the neighborhood of Ramapo Lake. It’s best to both come early or on a weekday when it’s much less crowded. Nonetheless, an excellent few hours spent on the paths.

Professionals:

Van Slyke Fort ruins, Ramapo Lake, scenic views, stone tower.

Cons:

Higher markings at sure junctions could be useful, widespread mountain climbing spot that will get crowded on weekends.


Take a hike!

Castle Loop Trail – Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Fort Loop Path – Ramapo Mountain State Forest


Sources: