Rugged, hilly, challenging route to Wyanokie High Point, Carris Hill, Buck Mountain and Chikahoki Falls with views of the NJ Highlands and NYC Skyline.
8.1 miles. On the lower end of challenging only due to not having high mileage. Very rocky, relentless up-n-down (typical of the Highlands area of Jersey) plus scrambling in several areas.
- Longer: Add a section of WCI, or also the Will Monroe Loop for additional viewpoints – noted below.
- Much Longer: Cross the road at Otter Hole and add part of the Torne Mountain/Osio Rock hike for an additional very hilly and rugged 2.7 miles (round trip) and some more fine views.
- Similar but easier: High Point, Chik Falls, Otter Hole Loop.
- Nearby: Apshawa Preserve; Stonetown Circular; Lake Sonoma, Overlook Rock, Manaticut Point.
Our two cents:
Don’t let the “low” mileage fool you, this is a hilly workout with some scrambles. Your payoff is tons of fantastic views plus a stream with cascades thrown in for good measure.
While everyone hikes at a different pace, for a rough idea this took us 5.75 hours including breaks for photos and snacks.
Updated: 7/2020 – Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 4/2018 – Re-hiked, updated description/GPX/Interactive Map; route slightly modified to turn onto a unmarked woods road earlier.
We do really recommend getting the North Jersey Trails for this.
Not only because there is such an intricate network of trails in this park and this map includes unmarked trails but also because it is topographic… so you can see all those hills comin’ up…
Best bet is a gas station or Quick Chek on Rt. 511.
Detailed trail descriptions can be found in the The New Jersey Walk Book.
Parking: 41.069864, -74.321721
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, turn left. Then make the 2nd left on to Snake Den Road.
There should be a sign for The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation and the Highlands Natural Pool.
Continue uphill and bear left on Snake Den, past some houses until arriving at a dirt lot on the right-hand side.
Note: Sign says parking allowed 9am to dusk.
Overview: Otter Hole (GREEN) – Hewitt-Butler (BLUE) – Carris Hill (YELLOW) – Lower (BLACK L on WHITE) briefly – Posts Brook (WHITE) – Hewitt-Butler (BLUE) – Otter Hole (GREEN) – Wyanokie Crest (YEL) – Unmarked woods road – Otter Hole (GREEN)
0.0 – Pick up Otter Hole (GREEN), which runs along the field. After the field, Otter Hole (GREEN) trail goes by the Highlands Natural Pool, passing a water cascade and crossing a foot bridge.
After a short rocky section, cross a woods road to a trail kiosk.
0.4 – At the trail kiosk (“Richard N Warner Kiosk”) start following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE).
0.5 – Continue following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE) [Mine (YELLOW) leaves to the left.] Head steepily uphill passing some viewpoints.
0.9 – Continue following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE) [Pass WHITE (Macopin) on the right].
1.2 – At a junction with multiple trail signs, follow the route to “Hi Point” on Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/Highlands (Teal Diamond)/Wyanokie Circular (RED on WHITE CIRCLE)] by squeezing around and up some rocks then scrambling up a rock slab.
[If it’s super wet, going up the slab here may not be something you want to do as this route is going to take you back down it too.]
Arrive at a large open area of rock with 360° degree views.
Head over to the far end to spot the NYC skyline if it’s a clear day.
Backtrack, going back down the slab to the junction with the trail signs. Head LEFT to again follow Hewitt-Butler (BLUE) [also blazed Highlands (Teal Diamond) and Wyanokie Circular (RED on WHITE CIRCLE)].
1.4 – Continue on Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/Highlands (Teal Diamond). [Wyanokie Circular (RED on WHITE CIRCLE) leaves to the right].
Cross some potentially wet low areas while on Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/Highlands (Teal Diamond).
2.1 – A little bit of a scramble up to Carris Hill viewpoint.
Turn to the left to look over to Wyanokie High Point and spot hikers enjoying the view from where you just were.
Zoomed in to Wyanokie High Point from Carris Hill:
There are several trail markings… look for a yellow CH and an arrow painted on the rock, to start following the Carris Hill (YELLOW) trail.
[Hewitt-Butler (BLUE) and Highlands (Teal Diamond) leave, heading to “O-H PRKG”].
2.3 – Short scramble down after a large glacial erratic.
Head steeply downhill on short switchbacks with a few lovely viewpoints along the way as the NYC skyline gets closer (visible only if it’s a clear day).
2.9 – Carris Hill (YELLOW) ends at the junction with Posts Brook (WHITE) and Lower (BLACK L on WHITE).
Multiple trail signs for Weis, Carris, PBT (Post Brook), Lower. This junction and the next in just a minute can be confusing.
Turn RIGHT to follow Lower (BLACK L on WHITE) as it goes over a rock and quickly jogs to the left then right.
Very soon, arrive at a junction at a bend in a brook with more signs and a wooden arrow with “E PBT W”.
Turn RIGHT, now following PBT (WHITE). [PBT (WHITE) also goes straight but ends up at Ringwood Ave – a yellow sign notes this. Lower (BLACK L on WHITE) ends].
3.3 – Chikahoki Falls. The trail approaches it from the side and then continues up along side the falls to the top.
// Optional: Cross the stream to get a front view of the falls. The feasibility of this depends on water levels/flow and the location of logs or rocks to cross on. Makes for a nice break spot.
One time we crossed it required a log cross, more recently we’ve encountered rock hops.
Chikahoki Falls viewed after crossing the stream:
When ready, return to the trail and continue following PBT(WHITE) as it follows the stream.
3.4 – PBT (WHITE) ends. Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/Highlands (Teal Diamond) come in from the right and continue straight.
Start following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/Highlands (Teal Diamond).
(You may just blow right by this and not notice the blaze change).
3.8 – Continue following Hewitt-Butler (BLUE)/Highlands (Teal Diamond) as Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW) crosses the path.
4.4 – At the intersection with Otter Hole (GREEN), turn LEFT for a short side trip to the cascade at Otter Hole. (Or, you can skip it.) Otter Holes makes a nice break spot.
/// Longer option: If adding the Torne Mountain/Osio Rock hike to the route, continue beyond Otter Hole via a sometimes tricky rock hop over a stream to a parking area on Glenwild Avenue. ///
Retrace to the junction with Otter Hole (GREEN) and start following that.
4.8 – Turn LEFT to follow Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW)/Highlands (Teal Diamond).
/// Shorter option: Otter Hole (GREEN) continues straight and can be used to shorten this route some if you’ve had enough. ///
The trail climbs steeply up Buck Mountain, with some scrambling over angled rock slabs. This is more scrambly than it appears:
Panoramic views back over most of Norvin from the top.
Continue following Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW)/Highlands (Teal Diamond).
5.1 – At an open rock slab, there are views to the west and of the NYC skyline. Nice break spot with a large shady tree.
Turn sharply right to continue following Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW)/Highlands (Teal Diamond) along the ridge of Buck Mountain.
5.3 – Continue following just Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW) now as the Highlands (Teal Diamond) trail leaves to the left.
6.6 – Turn RIGHT onto an obvious unmarked woods road that crosses Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW).
/// Longer option: Instead of turning right onto the woods road, continue straight on Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW) until it ends. Turn RIGHT on to Wyanokie Circular (RED on WHITE CIRCLE) and head down to the unmarked woods at later point, turning LEFT onto it. ///
/// Even longer option: When Wyanokie Crest (YELLOW) ends, Wyanokie Circular (RED on WHITE CIRCLE) also goes to the left, and Will Monroe Loop (PINK) is straight… which could be used to add another small loop with viewpoints to this hike.
We have not tried this add-on, as usually by this point we are already focused on what flavor coffee or ice cream we are having post-hike. ///
You may spot a few old faded white blazes on the unmarked woods road. It’s rocky, eroded and potentially very wet but if it is you can walk on the higher edges on either side of the road.
6.9 – Veer LEFT and start following Otter Hole (GREEN) [Otter Hole (GREEN) also veers right].
Otter Hole (GREEN) continues on a mostly level but rocky woods road then veers up to the left back onto a trail. Rock hop a stream.
7.7 – At the trail kiosk from earlier, turn LEFT, continuing on Otter Hole (GREEN) as it passes the Highlands Natural Pool and leads back to the parking lot.
Hiked: 4/14/18. Trail Blog: “High Point, Carris Hill, and Buck Mountain in Spring“
Hiked: 10/2/11. Trail Blog: “Norvin Green: Wyanokie High Point, Carris Hill, Buck Mtn.“