Despite New Jersey’s dense population and urban setting, there are still natural and man-made beauties waiting right in our backyard. In the middle of Ramapo State Park lies a stone castle and ruins amidst a beautiful forest with scenic views and lakes. A large network of trails leads all around the park perfect for both long and short hikes and guaranteed to please any outdoor enthusiast or history-lover.
What to Expect
Jack and I chose to take the shorter 3.2 mile hike which mainly just follows the Blue trail up and back. The trail starts off with a typical hilly and rocky dirt path that runs parallel to a small stream of water. This continues over a stream and rocks until the trail opens up to a road that brings hikers to a large lake.
We kept walking north following the Blue trial , not crossing the bridge across lake, but walking alongside the lake. The path continues to snake around the lake and allows for some great opportunities to sit and look out on the water atop boulders. Sticking to the blue trail (which is a wide road for the lake part) brought us to a sign that points in the direction of the ruins.
This is where the path diverges from the main road and continues along an actual hiking trail that ascends a large hill. It begins to get a little difficult at this point since the hill is very steep and hikers have to navigate around rocks and bushes. Once at the top, there is a great view of the surrounding mountains and a view of the New York City skyline in the very distance.
Hopping over a stone ledge brought us to the ruins where we were free to roam around inside, climb on the structure, and take pictures. After spending some time here exploring the stone building we took a dirt road that we thought would take us to the stone castle. This is where we accidentally just took a road that lead us back down to the lake. If you wish to see the castle be sure to stick on the Blue trail. To get back to the parking lot, we just retraced the way we came.
This hike was very crowded with many families with small children and/or dogs. If you’re looking for a quiet secluded hike this may not be for you since it is very crowded, especially on weekends. The hike itself was not very difficult, other than the section where we had to climb the hill to get to the ruins, the hike is fairly flat in its entirety.
Take Route 287 to Exit 57 and make a left onto Skyline Drive. Drive north slowly since there is really no other way to find the trail head other than the parking lot which comes up abruptly on the left.
The parking lot is on the left side of the road and fills up very fast. It is pretty small but can fit a lot of cars. If the parking lot is filled then you will be allowed to park on the right-hand side of the road.