LeGrande Hill & Wanaque Ridge Overview
Ramapo Mountain State Forest is a popular park with crowded trails, but this moderately-difficult 6.6-mile loop explores the less-busy parts of the park and leaves most of the crowds behind. The hike features views of Ramapo Lake and the Wyanokies from LeGrande Hill and a nice ridgeline walk through cedars along the Wanaque Ridge Trail, with views of the Wanaque Reservoir.
Hike Length: 6.6 miles
Elevation gain: 1,524 feet
Location: Ramapo Mountain State Forest, Bergen and Passaic Counties, NJ
LeGrande Hill & Wanaque Ridge Parking
Park in the Lower Parking area on Skyline Drive shortly after you get off I-287. The trailhead for the blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Spur is at the end of parking lot. The parking lot often fills quickly early in the morning, especially on weekends.
LeGrande Hill & Wanaque Ridge Trail Maps
- Northern New Jersey Trails Map – NY-NJ Trails Conference
- Ramapo Mountain State Forest – NY-NJ Trail Conference
- NJ Parks & Forests Ramapo Mountain State Forest map
NOTE: Several trail changes were instituted in 2020 as a series of trail improvements in Ramapo Mountain State Forest, including an extension of Wanaque Ridge Trail and a new LeGrande-Lake Connector. Older maps below do not reflect the new blaze colors.
LeGrande Hill and Wanaque Ridge Trail description
From the parking lot, follow the black-on-blue blazed Ramapo Lake Spur Trail trail which heads west.
The trail climbs a steep and rocky creek that comes from Ramapo Lake.
The trail levels out after 0.25 miles and winds through forested ridges. You’ll pass a junction with the start of the white-blazed Castle Loop Trail. Continue straight.
A tenth of a mile ahead, the black-square-on-blue-blazed trail ends at Ramapo Lake.
Turn left to cross the dam across the lake.
After crossing the dam, you’ll reach a fire road. You’ll quickly pass the red-blazed LeGrande Hill Loop trail on your left, but we will continue straight as the road makes a sharp turn right and then a sharp turn left. Now, with the blue trail heading straight and then to the right, we’ll turn left to follow the red foot path uphill.
The trail begins to climb.
About a third of a mile in, you’ll reach a rocky ridge with cedars and views to the north and west over Rampo Lake. The distinctly-shaped Windbeam Mountain is visible in the distance behind the lake.
You’ll pass another ridge with views to the west, and then the trail reaches a junction where the LeGrande Hill loop turns left. Will continue straight on the red-and-blue-blazed LeGrande-Lake Connector trail.
The trail now descends and passes two viewpoints. You’ll cross a small stream and then begin a climb. Eventually the trail turns onto a partly paved road.
You’ll pass the yellow trail on your left, and a quarter mile ahead reach the junction with the blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Loop trail. Rampo Lake is visible through the trees. At this junction, stay left to follow the blue trail west.
A short distance ahead, the blue trail turns right, and we will continue straight to follow the red “C”-blazed Cannonball Trail.
In 0.2 miles, the Cannonball Trail ends and turns into the upside-down-red-triangle-blazed Indian Rock Trail.
In 0.15 miles, you’ll reach a junction with the orange blazed Wanaque Ridge Trail on your right.
Follow the orange blazes uphill, crest a ridge, and then begin a descent, ending with a stone staircase.
After the stone steps, you’ll reach a pipeline cut. Turn right, follow the cut a short distance, and then make a quick left to reenter the woods.
The trail soon crosses Green Swamp Brook and then reaches a junction with red-stripe-on-yellow-blazed Pete’s Path.
Turn right to continue to follow the orange blazes. The trail soon begins a short but steep climb uphill to a ridge with cedars.
You’ll first reach a west-facing viewpoint of the Wanaque Reservoir. Just beyond is an east-facing viewpoint with the Van Slyke Castle Ruins and Stone Tower visible.
About a quarter mile ahead is another west-facing viewpoint.
The Wanaque Reservoir is clearly visible with the Wyanokie Mountains behind. The trail now begins a gradual and then more steep descent as it makes a sharp right-hand turn, some left and right jogs, and then two more left turns. Just follow the orange blazes and you’ll be fine. You’ll pass the large rock outcrop called Profile Rock – there’s no view here. The trail now makes a right turn beyond Profile Rock, descends, and passes through a swampy area.
The trail now follows some woods roads, making a right turn at a junction with another woods road. A bit further, the black-on-orange-blazed Wanaque Ridge Spur joins in from the left. You’ll then cross the pipeline cut again, and then quickly make a left into the woods.
About 0.3 miles ahead, the trail becomes co-blazed with the Cannonball trail.
Just 0.1 miles late, the orange-blazed Wanaque Ridge Trail ends and you reach the blue trail at Ramapo Lake. Make a left here.
You will almost immediately see a black-star-on-blue-blazed trail to your right.
Take this short spur trail 0.1 miles to the end of a peninsula for views of Ramapo Lake. No Swimming signs are posted throughout, and a memorial plaque here notes the tragic drowning of Isabelle Brodsky.
The exposed rock shows obvious signs of glacial striations. Retrace your steps back to the blue trail and turn right. Follow the trail about 0.5 miles until you once again reach the black-on-blue-blazed Ramapo Lake Spur Trail that we started on. From here, retrace your steps 0.65 miles back to the Lower Parking lot.