Climb and descend five mountains – Little Windbeam, Windbeam, Bear, Board, and Harrison – while enjoying views of the Wanaque and Monksville Reservoirs.
10.6 miles; challenging. This is a challenging Highlands loop with outstanding views – and this hike makes you work for them. While these mountains certainly aren’t tall, they will seem like it as you go up and down, repeatedly. Some scrambling.
Update 12/24/15 – Updated the description to move the start of the hike to the Stonetown Rec center. GPX and google map also updated.
Map: North Jersey Trails map #115.
Parking: N41 04.817 W74 18.440 [Stonetown Recreation center]
Rt 287 to exit 55, take 511 N (Wanaque), continue through Wanaque for several miles. Make a left onto West Brook Rd. Continue across Reservoir. At the T-intersection, make a right onto Stonetown Rd. Turn left into the Stonetown Recreation center (Mary Roth Dr.). Park in the lot, then walk back out to the road. Look for the markers (RED TRIANGLE on WHITE) across the street; little tough to see.
Restrooms: There are many stores along Rt 511 – Dunkin Donuts, gas stations, Quik Chek etc. Stonetown Rec. center may have bathrooms but not visible from the lot.
Books: A 2-car shuttle hike is described in Hiking the Jersey Highlands (“Windbeam Mtn Through Hike”), that takes in the first part of this hike and uses the Highlands connector trail to a 2nd parking lot.
Hike Directions: The entire loop follows RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular). The trail is clearly marked on the entire trail, but there are some woods roads in the area, so just watch for markers.
0.0 – Walk out of the Stonetown Rec. parking area and cross the street. The trail markers are near the guard rail. The trail parallels the road for a bit before heading away.
0.7 – Meet up with the Highlands Trail. This trail is co-aligned with Stonetown until it leaves on Harrison Mtn, so you will see TEAL DIAMONDS along the route as well.
Turn LEFT to continue on RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular) and head up a steep, rocky climb.
0.9 – Limited view from the summit of Little Windbeam Mtn.
1.2 – The first of many viewpoints.
1.3 – View east towards Wanaque Reservoir. There are so many viewpoints we did not mark all of them.
1.6 – Windbeam Mtn.
Start to descend, steeply, and join up with a woods road for a level stretch. A house may come into view through the trees, off to the left.
2.3 – Cross a dirt road before heading up Bear Mountain. Steep and rocky again.
2.8 – Viewpoint on the left.
2.9 – About a 180 degree view from a rock slab on top of Bear Mountain. The mountain you just came from, Windbeam, is visible across the way, as well as views of Wanaque Reservoir.
3.3 – Cross a prominent dirt road. Head steeply uphill… again.
3.8 – Board Mountain. Views of Monksville Reservoir. [Option: Turn around and retrace the route for a tough 7.6 out-and-back.]
The trail turns LEFT sharply and descends steeply over loose rocks, before leveling out in a moist forest area. Two easy rock-hops over stream/wet area.
4.2 – Continue straight on RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular). [Highlands Connector (TEAL DIAMOND with BLACK DIAMOND center) is on the left.]
Meet up with a woods road, turn RIGHT. Follow the woods road awhile, watching the markers as there are several roads in the area. Continue on RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular) as it leaves the woods road and veers RIGHT back onto a trail.
5.4 – Start to see the Monksville Reservoir in the distance. There is an overgrown side path for a closer view.
Cross a little stream and go up into a tall grassy area, then cross Stonetown Road. Hop over the guard rail (there are markers).
Now the trail follows a woods road, around the reservoir (limited views). Pass a powerline cut. Head steeply up Harrison Mtn.
5.8 – The woods road gets closest to the reservoir at this point and there is a log or rock (can’t recall which) for a break spot.
6.7 – The Highlands trail (TEAL DIAMOND) leaves to the right, and WHITE (Horse Pond) crosses left and right. Continue, following only RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular). There is a limited view and some rocks to take a break.
Head down steeply, joining up with a woods road. Cross the powerline again.
7.9 – The trail nears Burnt Meadow Rd. and turns LEFT over a stream. [The road can be used if the stream is high].
8.0 – RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular) approaches dirt Burnt Meadow Road where there are blazes for Sonoma Trail (ORANGE). Don’t cross the road – continue on RED TRIANGLE on WHITE (Stonetown Circular) as it angles away from the road.
After following a woods road and turning right back into the woods, the forest changes a bit and there are more pines.
8.6 – Tory Rocks. Limited view. Steep scramble down the rocks, then across some boulders.
9.2 – Large scramble up. Near but not at Signal Rocks.
10 – Come out by a house and turn LEFT onto Magee Road (don’t believe there are signs). Follow Magee Road as it curves around to Stonetown Rd. Keep walking straight past the fire house, and walk along the shoulder of Stonetown Rd.