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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 climbs Assiniwikam Mountain, with a series of panoramic views in all directions.
LENGTH: 2.2 miles.
TIME: About one and one-half hours.
STARTING POINT: Camp Wyanoke on Snake Den Road WEST. Go to the bottom of Snake Den Road EAST, turn left, and continue for 2.5 miles to Snake Den Road WEST, marked by a large sign on the right side of the road. Turn left onto Snake Den Road and continue for 0.8 mile to Camp Wyanokie. Park in a small parking area on the right side of the road, between the camp dumpster and a water pump. (Note: Do not turn left onto the eastern branch of Snake Den Road, marked by a sign for the Weis Ecology Center on the right and a small road sign to the left, 0.5 mile beyond the T junction.)

DESCRIPTION: From the parking area, continue ahead on Snake Den Road, passing Boy Scout Lake to the left. You'll be following the red-on-white blazes of the Wyanokie Circular Trail. Beyond the end of the lake, follow the road as it continues through a residential area. A side road leaves to the left, but you should proceed straight ahead, soon re-entering the woods.

About 300 feet beyond the end of the residential area, you'll reach another fork. Bear left, leaving Snake Den Road, and continue ahead on the red-on-white blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail, which soon becomes a footpath. After briefly paralleling a stream, the trail turns left, crosses the stream, and begins a gentle climb. In another 0.2 mile, the trail turns left and climbs more steeply. Near the top, it passes rock ledges to the right of the trail and a huge boulder to the left.

About 200 feet beyond the huge boulder, you'll come to a trail junction. To the right, three yellow blazes mark the start of the Wyanokie Crest Trail; to the left, three pink blazes mark the start of the Will Monroe Loop. Turn left and follow the pink blazes.

The one-mile-long Will Monroe Loop, blazed by Trail Conference volunteers in 2003-04, is named after Professor Will S. Monroe of the Montclair State Normal School (now Montclair State University), who laid out most of the trails in the Wyanokies in the 1920s. After a short climb to an open area where the trees have been killed by drought and gypsy moth infestation, the trail turns left, descends into a shallow valley, and then climbs to open rock ledges.

1 Although the climbing is not particularly difficult, you might have to use your hands in a few places. The rock ledges offer views to the west and north. The trail continues along the ledges, reaching another viewpoint - this one to the south - at a balanced boulder. In the spring, this area is frequented by migratory birds, including the indigo bunting.

After a short stretch in which the trail leaves the ledges, it turns left and climbs over rocks to the summit of Assiniwikam Mountain (1,200 feet), where there is an east-facing view over the Wanaque Reservoir, with the Ramapo Mountains in the background. The trail descends slightly and soon comes out at another east-facing ledge with an interesting balanced rock. This ledge offers an even better view. The Wanaque Reservoir is to the east, with Windbeam, Bear, Board and Horse Pond Mountains to the northeast.

A short distance beyond, the trail leaves the rock ledges and begins to descend through the woods. Soon, it passes huge boulders to the left. Of particular interest is a split boulder with a tree growing out of a crack in the rock. After a short, rather steep descent, the Will Monroe Loop continues to descend steadily until it ends at an intersection with the red-on-white blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail. Turn right and follow the Wyanokie Circular Trail for half a mile to its end at the parking area at Camp Wyanokie.

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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