Sunday, July 31, 2022

Ramapo Lake and Castle Point Loop

Ramapo Mountain State Forest
Bergen/Passaic Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Ramapo Lake Spur Trail: Blue blaze
Matapan Rock Trail: Red blaze
Ramapo Lake Loop Trail: Blue blaze
Castle Loop Trail: White blaze
Cannonball Trail: Red blaze

Total Time: 2:25 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.2 Miles

Pros: Scenic Lake, nice climb, castle ruins
Cons: Busy area
Hike Type: Lollipop Loop
Level of Difficulty: Slightly Difficult

Google Maps of Parking:

This is one of my favorite hikes in New Jersey. It includes a good climb, lake view, and historical castle. The flipside is that it is a busy area and parking can be limited on busy weekends. I parked at the lower parking on Skyline Drive, right after Interstate 287. There was still some parking spaces available but it was filling up.

All the trails in the area had been renamed in 2020, so I am including the new trail names here. I took the Ramapo Lake Spur Trail up, and took a short bushwack across the brook, which was mostly dry, to the Matapan Rock Trail. I took this trail up to the dam at Ramapo Lake, and crossed the dam. I then took the Ramapo Lake Loop Trail along the east shore of the lake, and encountered a large black bear on the trail ahead of me at this point. I gave him his space and distance, and after he walked into the woods and more people came, I continued along the trail. 

I then took the Castle Loop Trail, up the steep climb, to the view above Ramapo Lake, and then to the old castle ruins of the Van Slyke estate. I then continued to the next view and then past the tower, which I then took took to the Cannonball Trail. I then continued back down the mountain on the Castle Loop Trail to the Ramapo Lake Spur Trail which I took back to my car.

Map of Route

Trailhead Sign

Ramapo Lake Brook Dried Up with Cairns

LeGrande Hill Loop Trailhead

Ramapo Lake Dam

Ramapo Lake

Sign for American Chestnut Restoration

Ramapo Lake Lily Pad Area

Large Black Bear on the Trail

Bear Heading up the Mountain Off the Trail

Ramapo Lake

Castle Loop Trailhead

View from Castle Loop

Ramapo Lake from Castle Loop

Van Slyke Castle Ruins

Van Slyle Castle Pool

Bullfrog in the Pool

View to the Wyanokies from Near the Van Slyke Castle Ruins

Windbeam Mountain in the Distance

Water Tower Ruins

Trailhead Kiosk at the top of the Castle Loop Trail

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