Overview: Perhaps the most strenuous hike in New Jersey, the 10 mile Stonetown Circular loop in Ringwood, NJ climbs five mountains – Windbeam, Bear, Board, Harrison Mountains, and Tory Rocks and offers a great workout and plenty of views of the Wanaque and Monksville Reservoirs. (Note: The end – or start, depending on which way you go – requires a section of road walk to complete the loop to the parking lot.)
If you’re here because you’re looking for a challenging hike in New Jersey, also consider the 11 mile Splitrock Reservoir Loop.
Length: 10.0 miles
Elevation gain: 2,625 feet
Location: Ringwood, NJ. The trail passes through land managed by the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, Long Ponds Ironworks State Park, Norvin Green State Forest, and the Passaic River Coalition.
Parking: Park in the Stonetown Recreation Complex parking lot located on Mary Roth Drive.
- NY-NJ Trail Conference North Jersey Trail Map #115 (print)
- NY-NJ Trail Conference North Jersey Trails Map (Avenza)
- Most of the trail is visible on the top right of the Norvin Green State Forest Map.
- The northern part of trail loop can be seen in the NJ DEP Norvin Green State Forest-North Map.
Walk out of the parking lot to the right and soon find the red-triangle-on-white blaze in the woods on your left. You will follow the red triangle on white blazes for the entire loop.
You’ll soon cross a small stream as the trail passes through a wet area.
Soon, you’ll connect with the Highlands Trail (teal diamond) – the eastern half of the Stonetown Circular Trail coincides with the Highlands Trail – and you’ll begin the first of several steep uphill climbs up Little Windbeam.
Most of the best views along this loop are near the start of the hike on Little Windbeam and Windbeam Mountain. Keep an eye out to both sides of the trail for unmarked side trails and clearings that will provide great views.
To the right off the trail is a faint path leading to a clearing that offers views to the south/southeast. The exposed area provides a good habitat where you’ll find Prickly Pear cactus growing, so watch out for the thorns.
After Windbeam Mountain, you’ll climb Bear Mountain (no, not that one) followed by Board Mountain.
After Board, you’ve done the hardest half of the hike, but there’s still more climbing ahead. After you descend Board, you’ll eventually cross Stonetown Road then reenter the woods and follow a woods road. Pay attention – you will need to make a left into the woods while the woods road continues to skirt the reservoir and straight towards a power line cut.
The trail soon goes under the power line cut then reenters the woods and begins a climb up and down Harrison Mountain. You’ll pass an abandoned car or two along this stretch.
Soon, you’ll cross Meadow Brook.
Next you’ll reach Tory Rocks with views of the hills to the west.
Continuing about a half mile further, the official trail will follow to the right at a fork with an unmarked parallel side trail, but if you stay to the left you’ll soon be rewarded with panoramic views to the east of the hills you climbed earlier in the day.
As you’re nearing the end of the trail, you’ll reach a pile of boulders that you’ll need to scramble up. Arrows on the rocks indicate that you can go left or right. Left is easier.
Finally, the trail ends at Magee Road near a house. Turn left and follow Magee Rd until it ends at Stonetown Rd. Walk along the shoulder of Stonetown Rd. back to the parking lot. The total roadwalk is about half a mile.