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Millstone/Yellow/Old Guard Loop to 996' Viewpoint
This loop hike traverses several historic Scout trails, climbs to panoramic viewpoints, and follows a picturesque stream.
Allowed on leash
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Take Interstate Route 287 to Exit 57 (Skyline Drive) and proceed north on Skyline Drive for a little over a mile to the upper parking area for Ramapo Mountain State Forest on the left side of the road at milepost 1.4, opposite the entrance to Camp Tamarack.
From the parking area, cross Skyline Drive. You will see a triple orange blaze on a tree (along with yellow and white blazes for two other trails). The triple orange blaze marks the start of the Schuber Trail. Turn right onto the gravel road that leads into Camp Tamarack, then immediately turn left and follow the orange blazes downhill on a winding footpath. At the base of the descent, turn right at a T-intersection, then bear left, skirting the ruins of the former rifle range of the camp. The Schuber Trail now crosses a stream on cinder blocks, climbs over a knoll and descends to cross a second stream. Just beyond, follow the orange blazes as the trail bears away from a woods road.
About half an hour into the hike, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Millstone Trail. Turn right onto the Millstone Trail, which climbs to Rocky Slide Gulch (marked by a sign) where it turns right, then curves left and continues to climb. After a relatively level section, it passes to the left of a huge boulder designated as "Sitting Hen Rock," then bears right and resumes its ascent. Just beyond the crest of the hill, the trail reaches the Southwest Lookout.
From the lookout, the Millstone Trail bears left, descends slightly, then climbs to reach a balanced rock in an open area. Again, the trail bears left and descends. Soon, the Yellow Trail joins from the right, and both trails pass several abandoned millstones in various stages of completion. This area was once the site of a millstone quarry, and the stones that you see were either damaged during quarrying or abandoned when the quarry operation shut down.
The yellow and white trails continue to descend on a winding footpath, crossing a woods road along the way. Just beyond, a millstone in nearly perfect condition may be seen to the right of the trail. Near the base of the descent, the trails cross another woods road and pass an old stone wall on the right.
The trails cross paved Midvale Mountain Road and reenter the woods. They bear left and head west, parallel to Fox Brook, then turn right to cross two branches of the brook on wooden bridges. The trails now begin to climb, reaching a junction in a level area. Here, the Millstone Trail leaves to the left, but you should turn right, staying on the Yellow Trail. The trail briefly follows an old woods road, then turns left, passing a huge, flat-sided boulder, and heads north, climbing steadily through a wooded valley.
After reaching the crest of the rise, the trail descends briefly and continues along a level woods road. It crosses a stream on rocks and, just beyond, passes the stone foundations of some old Scout buildings and ruins of an older foundry. Just ahead, it turns right onto a wide woods road (briefly joining the route of the Yellow-Silver Trail). In 100 feet, it reaches the rusted frame of an old water tower. Follow the Yellow Trail as it turns left and begins to ascend, soon passing a stone foundation on a rock ledge.
At the high point of the ridge (996 feet), the orange-blazed Schuber Trail comes in from the left. Here, from a rock outcrop to the right of the trail, is an expansive viewpoint over northern Bergen County. On a clear day, you can see the Manhattan skyline on the horizon to the right. This is a good place to stop and take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, turn right and head north along the ridge on the joint orange and yellow trails, which begin a steady descent. Soon, you’ll notice three green-tulip-tree-leaf-on-white blazes on a stump to the left of the trail. They mark the start of the Old Guard Trail. Turn left and follow these unique blazes, which first traverse a level area and then begin a steady descent. This trail – reblazed in 2003 by volunteers of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference – follows the routes of several historic Scout trails.
After crossing a small stream, the trail begins a steady ascent. It crosses the route of a gas pipeline and descends, first steeply, then more gradually. Then, after a short climb, you’ll cross the Cannonball Trail, a woods road marked by white-C-on-red blazes. The Old Guard Trail continues to climb, rather steeply in places. Reaching the crest of the ridge, it descends slightly and crosses the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail. In another 0.2 mile, it reaches a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Ringwood-Ramapo Trail. Turn left and follow the joint Old Guard and Ringwood-Ramapo Trails, with views through the trees to the right.
The two trails run jointly for about 500 feet. Follow the Old Guard Trail as it bears left, leaving the Ringwood-Ramapo Trail. In another 300 feet, you’ll reach a west-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge to the right of the trail. The Erskine Lakes are below, with the Wanaque Reservoir and the dam of the Monksville Reservoir in the background. This is a good place for another break.
After a short climb, you’ll recross the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail. The Old Guard Trail now climbs over a knoll and then descends steadily to again reach the Cannonball Trail. The Old Guard Trail turns left onto the route of the Cannonball Trail. In 200 feet, the Cannonball Trail turns left, but you should continue to follow the Old Guard Trail, which turns right onto a woods road, soon recrossing the gas pipeline. Just beyond, follow the Old Guard Trail as it bears right, leaving the woods road, and continues on a footpath, soon passing through thick stands of mountain laurel.
After joining the orange-blazed Schuber Trail, which comes in from the left, the Old Guard Trail begins to parallel the scenic North Brook. Just past the Tindall Cabin of Camp Glen Gray, you’ll reach a footbridge over the brook. Turn right, crossing the footbridge. You now are following the orange-blazed Schuber Trail.
Continue along the Schuber Trail as it skirts a campsite and the camp rifle range and follows a camp road past several campsites and cabins. After descending to Lake Vreeland and passing the Nancy Gasser Memorial Pavillion, follow the orange blazes and turn right at a sign "Explorer and Pioneer." You’ll briefly join the white-blazed Millstone Trail, which soon leaves to the right, and then bear left, leaving a woods road. After a steady climb, you’ll come to a second junction where the Millstone Trail crosses. Continue ahead on the Schuber Trail, and retrace your steps back to the parking area on Skyline Drive.