Wawayanda State Park is located in Highland Lakes, New Jersey between West Milford, New Jersey and Warwick, New York. From Warwick go 3 miles southwest on County Road 94 and turn left onto County Road 21. Go 2.9 miles then turn into Park entrance on right.
The miles of singletrack, multi-use trails and forest roads at Wawayanda State Park allow mountain bikers to explore the diverse terrain and natural features of this 35,524 acre park tucked into this rural corner of northern New Jersey. Wawayanda State Park consists of over 60 miles of well marked multi-use trails. About 20 miles are available for mountain biking. They range from wide, fairly easy riding on carriage roads and along old logging and mining roads to challenging stretches of double and singletrack. The trails wind over rolling hills, through steep stream valleys, hardwood and evergreen forest and thick stands of rhododendron. Rugged outcroppings, plenty of rocks, roots, wet boggy areas and the ocassional log make it a challenge for the moderate and advanced rider or hiker. The area around Bearfort Mountain and Wawayanda Hemlock Ravine are too steep for mountain biking. Many sections of the trails tend to be very wet in the spring and after a good rain.
A twenty-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail (hiking only) runs through the park and the view from the top of Wawayanda Mountain is sensational. The park is also home to a variety of animals including deer, wild turkey, beaver and black bear.
Wawayanda State Park Mountain Bike Trails
There is enough ground to cover so that you can ride for several days without repetition. There also is a bike path along Wawayanda Road between the park office and the lake. Park and begin your ride at 255 acre Wawayanda Lake. After your bike ride, perhaps you'll take the time to unwind on the white sand beach and enjoy your swim at this picturesque spot surrounded by forested hills. A lifeguard-protected swimming area is provided from Memorial Day Weekend-Labor Day. Facilities include a bathhouse, restrooms, picnic areas, canoe & rowboat rentals and food concession.
Wawayanda State Park Loop Ride
The following is a suggested loop ride or hike that circumvents the Wawayanda Swamp Natural Area. The natural area features an Atlantic white cedar swamp, mixed oak-hardwood forest and a glacially formed spring-fed lake that is habitat for the red-shouldered hawk, barred owl and great blue heron. The route passes through miles of Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel "tunnels" (spectacular in late May and early June when they bloom), and ends at an historical stone furnace. Built in 1845-46, this historic Charcoal Blast Furnace (see Historical Note below), smelted iron ore from local mines, was used to supply the Union Army during the Civil War.
The loop uses the following picturesque trails: Wm. Hoeferlin, Double Pond, Banker, Cherry Ridge Road, Laurel Pond and a short ride on the park road back to the starting point. We also describe a few spurs for additional riding and cut-offs to shorten the loop. These are multi-use trails. Be aware of hikers and equestrians.
To begin the suggested loop, head south on the Wm. Hoeferlin Trail.
Wm. Hoeferlin: 1.8 miles (Blue Blaze) The trailhead is located across the road from the parking lot by the Ranger Station. Look for the inconspicuous blue Wm. Hoeferlin sign. The trail is generally rocky throughout but manageable. It ascends at the beginning and then levels out, threading its way through beautiful, shady woods that seem like something straight out of a fairy tale where at any moment a unicorn could step into view. Keep left and pass the Black Eagle Trail on the right. (Option 1)
Black Eagle Trail: .7 mile (Green/White Blaze) Rocky and challenging. (Option 1) You can use the Black Eagle to loop around back to the park access road then turn right for a short ride back to the Ranger parking lot.
Keep following the Blue blazes. The trail descends into a valley passing along the east edge of the Wawayanda Swamp which is lined by Rhododendron thickets on the right. The trail ends at a T- junction with the Double Pond Trail. Turn left onto the Double Pond Trail. (Option 2)
Double Pond: 1.7 miles (Yellow Blaze) Woods road. (Option 2) Turn right on the Double Pond Trail. It crosses (east/west) the Wawayanda Swamp Natural Area on a boardwalk and wooden bridge and passes through highbush blueberry and rhododendron. Beavers can be seen from the bridge on the Double Pond Trail. The trail is low-lying and gets very muddy after rain or in the spring. Passes the northern terminus of the Red Dot Trail. The trail junctions with Laurel Pond at its eastern terminus. Turn right on Laurel Pond Trail and pass the Wawayanda Lake parking area and continue to the park road. Turn right on the road and ride back to the Ranger Parking lot.
Keep heading east on the Double Pond Trail and turn right at the Banker Trail parking area onto the Banker Trail.
Banker Trail : 1.3 miles (Blue Blaze) Dense canopy of rhododendron thickets to Cherry Road and turn right.
Cherry Hill Road: 6 miles total. We only do about a mile for this loop which travels over wide, flat dirt and gravel doubletrack with washed-out eroded sections and slight elevation changes. Proceed on Cherry Ridge Road, and cross a shallow stream. The trees form a canopy overhead. After about a mile of biking along the road, you will notice a sign on the right marking the start of the Red Dot Trail (right). Continue ahead on the road and immediately pass intersection to the left and another intersection with the red-blazed Old Coal (2.2 miles Red Blaze) on the right. Cross the Lake Lookout Outlet on bridge. Shortly after the bridge look for Laurel Pond Trail on the right.
Laurel Pond Trail : 1.5 miles (Yellow Blaze/Re-marked with Red Splits) From Cherry Ridge Road turn right on Laurel Pond Trail. Follows a narrow old gravel woods road with steep rocky climbs and shallow ups and downs. It was originally used as a public road in the early 1800's. They also used the road to transport iron ore and charcoal from the old blast furnace.
Pass some unusual rock outcrops and ascend gradually to intersection with Wingdam Trail (left). Continue ahead on the Laurel Pond Trail and descend past Laurel Pond (a spring-fed glacial lake). Part of the steep rise above the southeastern shore of Laurel Pond features a primeval Eastern Hemlock grove that is said to have been untouched since the last ice age.
Pass more rhododendron thickets and cross a wide wooden bridge over the "Laurel Pond Outlet". Pass a sign marking the start of the Double Pond Trail and continue to another bridge over the Lake Wawayanda Outlet. Cross the bridge and pass through the Campground gate. Pass a dam to the left and continue ahead to the historic remains of the huge iron blast furnace (see Historical Note below).
The Laurel Pond Trail continues around the northern shore of Wawayanda Lake and ends at the boat rentals. Continue north past the boat parking area to the Wawayanda Lake beach parking area. Stop to rest and/or picnic. To complete the loop continue to Wawayanda Road, turn right and head back to the Ranger parking area.
Historic and Cultural Features
While you are taking a break check out the remains of the huge iron blast-furnace located just a short walk from the lake parking lot. Built in 1846, it is all that remains of the iron-smelting town of Double Pond. Operating during the last half of the nineteenth century, it was used to smelt the ore from local mines.
Next to Wawayanda Lake, an old mine road leaves the parking area by a boat rental building. It leads southward around the shoreline to the foundation ruins of a gristmill, sawmill, and a charcoal blast furnace (which displays a date of 1846 and the initials of the proprietor, William Ames. Water-powered bellows provided the blast of air to drive the furnace. It yielded approximately seven tons of very high quality of iron per day (poured daily at noon and at midnight). It was used until 1857 when cheaper and hotter iron ore processing methods using coal became available in Pennsylvania.
For more information:
Wawayanda State Park
Phone: (973) 853-4462
JORBA (Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association)