Welcome! Today we are going to hike two of the four Pompton Aquatic Parks trails. We will use the below trail map (provided by the Pompton Lakes Open Space Committee) to guide us.
We will have views of the adjacent Pompton River and a hike through a preserved floodplain forest. Ready? Let’s go!
Blue-Blazed Pompton Aquatic Trail
Starting from Woodlawn Avenue in Pompton Lakes we will head straight going west at the intersection near the trailhead of the .59 of a mile Pompton Aquatic Park Trail. The entire trail is through fresh water wetlands. Its good we picked the month of August to walk through when it is nice and dry! In fact, if we didn’t look at the vegetation growing we might not even know we were walking through wetlands. Common wetland vegetation growing along the trail as we walk include:
All of the above flora are native except for Purple Loosestrife and Japanese Knotweed which are considered invasive plants, that is, they displace and prevent native plants from growing because there are no natural predators native to the US to stop the spread of these plants.
Intersection of the Blue Blazed Pompton Aquatic Trail with the Yellow Blazed Rivercrest Trail
From here we will follow the 1 mile yellow blazed Rivercrest Trail which is the longest trail found in Pompton Aquatic Park. We will head north on this out and back trail (meaning we will retrace our steps). Out and back trails are a good way to verify if you missed something as you walked.
And there is the Pompton River! The Pompton River formed just north of Aquatic Park through the confluence of the Pequannock, Wanaque and Ramapo Rivers. The river above the park is technically still called the Pequannock River. The Pompton River is classified FW2-NT (fresh water non-trout production or maintenance) by the NJ DEP. The Pompton River is a major tributary to the Passaic River.
Painted Turtles in the Pompton River
As we walk along we spot some painted turtles bobbing in the Pompton River. Don’t they have the life! Not a care in the world!
Invasive Mile-a-Minute Plant
We see jumbles of arrow shaped leaves everywhere. It’s a Mile-a-Minute Plant another invasive. It is native to Asia.
We’ve been spotted! A white-tailed deer family is watching us closely. Let’s keep going!
Well, we have made it to the end of the Rivercrest Trail at Joe’s Grill Field (which is part of the Pompton Lakes park system.). Time to head back the way we came to get to our cars. Glad you could make it! It is my hope that this ‘virtual tour’ of Pompton Aquatic Park inspires you to visit and check it out for yourself!
Feel free to comment with any memories, wildlife sightings or any other comments about Pompton Aquatic Park! Thank you and have fun exploring!
The trailhead discussed in this post is located off of Woodlawn Avenue in Pompton Lakes NJ.
Check out some great books below to learn more about NJ’s plants and wetlands!
Today’s hike will be an estimated 4.2 miles and will take us pass a lake, the Ramapo River, ruins, scenic overview and a waterfall!
Ready to begin?
Ramapo Valley County Park Kiosk
From the parking area just past the kiosk marks the start of the Orange Blazed 6.5 mile Shuber Trail (the longest trail found in Ramapo Valley County Reservation) and the .8 mile Silver blazed trail (All trails are maintained by volunteers of the NYNJ Trail Conference)
Shuber (Orange) & Silver Trailhead
Heading west on the combined orange blazed Shuber and the Silver trail a bridge appears ahead crossing the Ramapo River.
Continuing west, scenic Scarlet Oak Pond (once part of a former gravel quarry) appears to our right. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of people we will see on our hike will be found here walking their dogs (as this is an extremely popular park to bring your dog) around this beautiful pond.
Shuber Trail Left
Come on, let’s leave the crowds and take the path less traveled. Keeping our eyes peeled to the left we follow the Orange Blazed Shuber Trail as it leaves the Silver Trail heading south west following the Ramapo River through a floodplain forest where Red Maple is the staple tree.
We are lucky today. The trail which travels alongside the Ramapo River is relatively dry. During times of snowmelt and rainstorms this path would be inaccessible.
Shuber Trail passing Blue Trail end near bridge over MacMillan Stream
As we continue heading west on the orange blazed Shuber Trail we pass the 3.0 mile Green on White Blazed Halifax Trail trailend to our right and cross over MacMillan Brook on a wooden footbridge.
Orange Trail Bridge Crossing
At this point as you take in your surroundings you might start to question a couple of items. Is all this beauty actually in New Jersey? In Bergen County? The answer is a resounding yes!
But wait, what’s this before us? Old ruins of a stone cabin built by a church camp which once operated here appears as we turn right on the orange blazed Shuber trail. (update February 12, 2016: the ruins have been removed by the Bergen County Parks Department)
The orange blazed Shuber trail starts climbing to the northwest of the Ramapo River. But don’t get discouraged by the climb, we are in a for a treat! Scenic cascades and pools of the Macmillan Brook parallels the trail to our right.
Cascades along orange trail
The Macmillan Brook is a tributary of the Ramapo River.
Orange Trail Silver Trailend
As we continue past the cascades we meet up with the trailend of the .8 of a mile Silver Trail we had originally started with the Shuber trail. As we turn right on the orange blazed Shuber trail, our footpath turns to an asphalt road.
Yellow Silver Trailhead
Leaving the asphalt road and continuing on the orange blazed Shuber trail, the 1.6 mile Yellow Silver Trail appears to our left which traverses an area known as Matty Price Hill.
Passing the trailhead of the Yellow Silver Trail and continuing on the Shuber trail we pass a dam and outlet of Macmillan brook and see the beautiful estimated 13.11 acre MacMillan Reservoir to our right.
Red Trail Trailhead
Continuing west past the reservoir the red blazed .3 mile Marsh Loop Trailhead appears to the south. Passing this trailhead we continue on our way traveling through an area of the Ramapo Mountains known as the Middle Valley.
Ridge Trail Trailhead
A short distance ahead the 1.9 mile Blue Blazed Ridge trail appears to our right. Let’s take it!
Ridge Trail Macmillan Stream Tributary #1
Heading north and leaving the Shuber trail behind us we carefully walk on rocks over a couple of Macmillan Brook tributaries. I should probably mention here that these rocks and the Ramapo Mountains themselves are situated in a geologic area known as the Highlands Region. Dating from the pre-cambrian time period, these rocks are probably as old as the Earth itself.
Ridge Trail Stream 2
Turning right and heading southeast on the Ridge Trail the .8 Blue on White Havemeyer Trail appears to our left.
Ridge Trail & Havenmeyer (Blue on White) Trailhead
While we will be continuing on the Ridge Trail, the Havenmeyer trail explores a section of the Ramapo Mountains known as the Monroe Ridge. Though we can’t see it, an abandoned mine known as the Nickel Mine is found to the right of the Ridge Trail. The Nickel Mine is said to have been associated with the Hopkins and Dickinson Manufacturing Company which had operations producing bronze locks and iron castings in the 1870s along the Ramapo River. The Nickel Mine was created by digging two pits (both now are filled with water) in a search for nickel-bearing rock (hence the name Nickel Mine).
Ridge Trail Chestnut Oak Forest
As we continue our walk on the Ridge Trail with the Monroe Ridge to our north we have left the forest of Birch and Beech we were passing through and have entered a Chestnut Oak Forest. Chestnut Oak Forest canopies are up to 65% dominated by its namesake species. Associate plant communities of Chestnut Oak Forest include:
Continuing southeast on the Ridge Trail we come across the trailend of the 1.0 mile White Trail which traverses across the Monroe Ridge which is located north of where we are now.
Heading south on the Ridge Trail a sign for a Scenic Overlook appears. Let’s take it!
Following a brief Red Triangle on a blue background we come to outcrops. The outcrops are “basement rocks” as the younger rocks which originally had covered them eroded away over time. Most of the rocks are thought to be comprised of ancient granite-gneiss. Enough geology for now, let’s take a look at the view! Here we have a great eastern view of the surrounding Ramapo Mountains along with Campgaw Mountain. Though we cannot see it today due to hazy conditions in the distance NYC may be seen on a clear day.
Ridge Trail End Silver Trail
Heading back to the blue blazed Ridge Trail we turn south where the Ridge Trail ends at an intersection with the Silver Trail. Heading South on the Silver Trail we see a sign advertising a waterfall. Let’s check it out!
After a steep descent we come to the base where we have terrific views of the waterfall.
Whew! Believe it or not but we are almost done and it seems like we just got started! Alright, let’s head back to the Silver Trail.
Scarlet Oak Lake Return
Heading south on the the Silver Trail we pass scenic Scarlet Oak Pond where the orange blazed Shuber Trail joins us.
Silver Trail & Shuber Trail End
Well we have come to the end of the jointly blazed silver and shuber trail back at the parking lot where we began our hike. I hope you enjoyed our virtual hike and that it inspires you to check out Ramapo Valley County Reservation for yourself! Thanks for reading!
Wanna Hike Ramapo Valley County Reservation? Click Here for Directions!