Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ramapo Mountain State Forest, NJ - Cannonball and Lookout

Ramapo Mountain State Forest - NJ Division of Parks and Forestry

GPS Coordinates 41.01864, -74.26659
Parking for two, three if you squeeze in, cars off of Pool Hollow Road.  This is looking back so it would be on the right driving in just before the railroad tracks.

North Jersey Trails Map 115 - NYNJ Trail Conference
Ramapo Mountain State Forest Trail Map (free map) - NYNJ Trail Conference
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HIKE DISTANCE:  6.75 miles

I had to sneak out without Shawnee for this hike.  She has been marathon hiking the past few weeks with me taking a vacation day to hike during the week in addition to hiking on weekends so she needs to rest.  I chose a more challenging hike for going alone.  We would have never made it with the wheelchair on this hike!
I have driven under the Cannonball Trail on I-287 a million times and always wanted to hike over but never had.  This was the day.

From the parking area, continue over the railroad tracks then veer left to ...
... the start of the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Memorial Trail.  (Pardon the blurry pictures early on - if was just barely light enough to see when I started hiking so it was hard to get good pictures until the sun came up.)
Looks like this was a paved road at some point.
I turned left on the white-blazed South Ridge Trail and would be returning from the right on yellow.
The first if many I picked up.  Plastic water bottles should be illegal.
The sun starting to rise in the east.
He got a stern talking to from me for standing there.  Not the time of year to not be running for one's life.  And stay off of I-287!  Be safe little guy.
If you find yourself heading down a steep hill towards an open area it is the wrong way.  This used to be the trail to the Barbara Drive parking which is now closed.  But seems nobody changed the trail markers to reflect that.  When I turned around...
... there at the top of the hill the beginning of the white trail I was just on and the Cannonball Trail where I wanted to go.
Sure enough, I went back to the top to see if I missed something but the markers show a left turn which is down that hill.
Back on track on the Cannonball Trail.
There is the sun.
At a couple of unmarked intersections keep left, seems some of the Cannonball Trail markers are missing.  Yellow will merge in from the right just before ...
And here we go, over I-287.  I actually found it pretty unnerving even though I was all caged in.  Still got weak in the knees.  It felt like the whole thing was going to collapse onto the interstate below.  But it didn't.
The other side of the interstate the Cannonball Trail markers seem to disappear altogether although at a fork it does go left which was my return route.  I stayed on yellow.
Yellow turns right on an old partially paved road....
... then leaves to the left at the bend.
It's a woods road for a short distance before the trail becomes quite steep and rugged.
The viewpoint on the yellow trail.
I believe this is the Pompton Lakes water tower.
Pompton Lake
I-287 down below.  I could hear the traffic throughout a lot of this hike but the beautiful fall foliage made up for it.
Continuing on yellow.
Yellow continues with red to the left, I turned right on the red-blazed Lookout Trail. After the turn it is a little tricky to find the trail but look downhill to the right and there it is.
I saw three side trails on the right, this is the view from the first which was the best.  Not much to see at the other two.
The red trail comes out right by the Ramapo Lake dam.
A quick jog right to the dam for ...
Ramapo Lake
Turning back and passing where I just came off of red, staying on the gravel Lakeshore Path. 
The yellow-blazed trail leaves to the left.
On that peak across the lake ...
Van Slyke Castle Ruins
A bridge on the other side of Ramapo Lake.
At the T-intersection ...
... right a short distance then left on the Cannonball Trail.
More old paved road.
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow joins back in from the left shortly before ...
... heading back over I-287.
Shortly after crossing, left on yellow when it leaves the Cannonball Trail.
This section of trail goes along I-287 with a wall of highway construction debris on the left but it is amazing how you are so close to the interstate yet that wall of rocks almost completely blocks the sound.
Dark-eyed Juncos have arrived from Canada for their winter stay here.  These are the first I have seen this fall.  Looks like they are hungry from that long migration flight.
Back to where I left yellow on the white trail earlier.  Retracing on yellow back to the car.
I don't think the horse is there any more.  The fence had gaps.
Back at the railroad crossing with parking just beyond on the left.
My haul of plastic water bottles headed for my recycling bin.  There were many more but at least there are now 6 less.