Sunday, September 12, 2021

Bearfort Ridge Loop

Bearfort Mountain,
Abraham Hewitt State Forest
West Milford
Passaic Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Bearfort Ridge Spur: Green/black blaze
Bearfort Ridge Loop: Green blaze

Total Time: 1:50 hour
Estimated Distance: 3.5 Miles

Pros: Scenic and quiet area with interesting geology
Cons: None
Hike Type: Loop
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Google Maps of Parking:

Bearfort Ridge is one of the most scenic areas of New Jersey. It is a long mountain with interesting conglomerate stone and quartz veins rising up from above Greenwood Lake and the valley to the south of it. This was one portion of the ridge I had not yet hiked, and decided it was a good time to do so. The trails were recently renamed, with the Bearfort Ridge Trail now a Loop Trail replacing the Quail Trail. 

I parked at the Lower parking roadside pull-off on Warwick Turnpike, and took the Bearfort Ridge Spur Trail, a short connector trail, to the Bearfort Ridge Loop (formerly the Quail Trail.) This is an easy and wide trail that gradually ascends along the side of the ridge. Being that I was short on time, about a mile into the trail I took an unofficial connector trail that connects the lower trail to the upper trail. The trail is easy to follow as it climbs up the remainder of the ridge. It has metal can cover blazes nailed into the trees. Once I reached the upper part of the loop trail, the scenery dramatically changed, with a craggy area with giant rock boulders overlooking a swamp with sweeping views and pre-season foliage colors. 

Continuing south along the trail leads to more views and rocky areas with distinctive pitch pine, until the final descent. I had missed the upper connector trail and decided to bushwhack down, but being steep terrain I tripped on a root on my descent and tumbled down a bit. I got banged and bruised, but thankfully it was mild, but then I had trouble crossing the stream, which was wetter than usual after all the rains, and then at the final stretch before the road was a dense patch of poison ivy which took much maneuvering to avoid.

Map of the Route

Trailhead Information Kiosk

Venomous Snake Warning

Bearfort Ridge Loop and Connector Trail Intersection

Unofficial Connector Trail

Approaching the Swamp Overlook

Swamp Overlook

Swamp Overlook with Early Foliage, Looking South

Swamp Overlook and Foliage, Facing West

Beautiful Colors along the Bearfort Ridge

Bearfort Ridge Loop Green Blaze

Swamp Overlook

Me at the Swamp Overlook, Facing North

Me at the Swamp Overlook, Facing South

Swamp Overlook Facing North

Dwarf Pitch Pines

Bearfort Ridge Bedrock on the Trail

Approaching the View

Bearfort Ridge View, Facing the Wyanokies

Above View Zoomed Out

More Pitch Pines

Descending the Trail

More Scenic Pines

View of Bearfort Ridge Across Warwick Turnpike

Last View on the Descent

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