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Hike of the Week

Courtesy of the NY-NJ Trail Conference

WHERE: Norvin Green State Forest
MAP:  North Jersey Trails, Map #21. , Published by the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
FEATURES: This loop hike passes by an old iron mine and climbs to an outstanding 360 viewpoint from which the New York City skyline can be seen.
LENGTH: 3.0 miles.
TIME: About two and one-half hours.
STARTING POINT: Weis Ecology Center (large dirt parking area on the right side of the road just before the entrance to the Weis Ecology Center).

DESCRIPTION: From the parking area, walk back along Snake Den Road, following the green blazes of the Otter Hole Trail. In about 200 feet, turn right, leaving the road, and follow the red-on-white blazes of the Wyanokie Circular Trail and the yellow-on-white blazes of the Mine Trail, proceeding along a narrow corridor through private property. After going through a stand of spruce trees, the trails continue into a deciduous forest of maple and oak and enter a valley. Soon, the yellow-on-white Mine Trail leaves to the right. Continue along the red-and-white Wyanokie Circular Trail, which now begins to descend.

At a sign for the “falls,” the Mine Trail crosses, and at a sign for the “mine,” the orange-blazed Roomy Mine Trail departs to the left. Continue ahead on the red-and-white blazed trail, which is soon rejoined by the yellow-on-white trail.

After about three-quarters of a mile, the trails turn right to cross Blue Mine Brook on a wooden footbridge, built as an Eagle Scout project in 2002. Before crossing the brook, proceed ahead for about 100 feet, and you will see the Blue Mine on the left. This mine, named for the dark blue color of its ore, was discovered by Peter Hasenclever about 1765 and was worked extensively in the 1800s. Today, the Blue Mine is filled with muddy water. A large concrete pad, located at the entrance to the mine, once served as a base for steam-operated equipment.

Now return to the trail and cross the brook on the footbridge. On the other side of the brook, you’ll notice a mine pit to the left of the trail, with a small pile of tailings (discarded waste rock) to its left. The trail passes the remains of an old stone shelter, constructed in the 1930s by members of the Green Mountain Club, to the right. A short distance beyond, the yellow-on-white Mine Trail leaves to the right. Continue ahead, following the red-on-white Wyanokie Circular Trail. Immediately after crossing another stream, the white-blazed Lower Trail begins on the left.

The red-on-white trail now begins a steady ascent, climbing about 500 feet in elevation to the summit of Wyanokie High Point. The first part of the ascent is gradual, but the climb steepens as the summit is approached. The last part of the climb is over bare rock, with the trail marked by blazes painted on the rock. Just before the summit is reached at 1.8 miles, there is an outstanding view to the southeast over the Wanaque Reservoir. But the best views are from the summit itself, marked by a bolt drilled into the rock. To the east, beyond the reservoir, a long bridge carrying Interstate Route 287 over a low area is clearly visible. Beyond that, the New York City skyline may be seen on a clear day. To the north and west, one can see Saddle, Assiniwikam and Buck Mountains.

After spending some time savoring the views from this magnificent location, surrounded by pitch pines, follow the red-and-white blazes as they descend very steeply over bare rock. Extreme care is required here during wet weather. The trail continues to descend through a mountain laurel thicket and soon reaches a junction with the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail. Turn right here and follow the blue blazes, as the trail levels off and even climbs a little. It reaches a balanced boulder on a rock ledge and then descends slightly to a mountain laurel thicket, where the white-blazed Macopin Trail leaves to the left. Continue ahead on the blue trail, which soon arrives at a rock ledge surrounded by pitch pines, with a view over Assiniwikam Mountain to the northwest.

The trail now begins a steep descent on a wide path. The descent eventually moderates, and the trail reaches a T junction with the Mine Trail in a mountain laurel thicket. Turn left here, now following both blue and yellow-on-white blazes. After a short distance, the blue blazes bear right and reach Snake Den Road, here a dirt road. Turn right and follow the blue blazes along the road, which soon becomes paved. Continue along Snake Den Road to your car, following the red-on-white blazes of the Wyanokie Circular Trail when they replace the blue blazes of the Hewitt-Butler Trail.

Hike of the Week is provided by Daniel Chazin of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC). The trail conference is a volunteer organization that builds and maintains 1,600 miles of hiking trails and publishes a library of hiking maps and books, including a two-map set for North Jersey Trails ($8.95) and the New Jersey Walk Book ($19.95).

The office is at 156 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah. Phone: (201) 512-9348, Website: nynjtc.org.

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