Sunday, October 17, 2021

Bearfort Mountain Ernest Walter Loop

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

Hiking Trails:
State Line Trail: Blue blaze
Ernest Walter Trail: Yellow blaze
Appalachian Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 2:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.2 Miles

Pros: Spectacular scenery with a good climb, nice views, and scenic lakes
Cons: Hiking can be difficult on weekends
Hike Type: Lollipop Loop
Level of Difficulty: Difficult

Google Maps of Parking:

This is one of the most scenic hikes in the area. It's got a nice climb with great views and scenic lakes, and this made for a spectacular hike as the fall foliage was beginning to peak. Parking hear is difficult on weekends so it's important to arrive early if you want to park in the trail parking lot. The weather was cool, and although it was bright and sunny, I started off with a light jacket, which I ended up shedding slightly after I started the hike. The cool weather probably staved off some hikers, so there was still parking available when I arrived at 9:45. However, when I returned there was no longer any parking available.

I started the hike climbing the mountain steeply on the State Line Trail, and then took the Ernest Walter Trail further up the mountain. There is a very scenic rocky area with the Bearfort conglomerate with a great view on top of Greenwood Lake. I then continued along the ridge, passing some dwarf pitch pines, to the next stop which was Surprise Lake. This is a quiet, small lake on the top of the ridge that is very scenic.

The trail then continued through a rhododendron tunnel, with dense vegetation and very interesting scenery and rock formations. After climbing a bit more I reach another view along the summit ridge of Bearfort, before taking a short spur trail that overlooks West Pond at a rocky Promenade. This area is especially scenic, especially during the fall. I then continued along the Ernest Walter Trail heading north, with more nice scenery and rock formations, until reaching the Appalachian Trail. At the intersection with the State Line Trail, I took a short detour further north on the Appalachian Trail to the State Line of New York and New Jersey, briefly crossing into New York State before turning around. I then took the State Line Trail down the mountain, picking up my jacket near the bottom and then heading back to my car.

Map of the Route

State Line Trail Markers

Greenwood Lake from the Ernest Walter Trail

Rock Face on the Ernest Walter Trail View

Fox Island in Greenwood Lake

Dwarf Pitch Pines at Ernest Walter

Surprise Lake

Rhododendron Tunnel near Surprise Lake

Fall Foliage at Cooley Brook

View at the Bearfort Loop Intersection

West Pond

Rock Formations and Fall Scenery along the Ernest Walter Trail

Ernest Walter Terminus at the Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail at the NY/NJ State Line

Mailbox in a Tree on the Trail

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