Passaic County High Point Trip Report

six areas on Bearfort Ridge near Terrace Pond (1,480+ ft)

Date: December 2, 2000
Author: Daniel Case

Exit NY 17/I-86 at Goshen (don't worry about the number, there's only one exit for the county seat). Take NY 17A south to Florida (birthplace, incidentally, of William H. Seward, namesake of one of NY's toughest CHPs) where it joins up with NY 94. Follow the two highways south to Warwick, but then when they split, follow 94 south to a Ford dealership and Shop Rite plaza. There Orange County 21 leaves from the left with a sign for Upper Greenwood Lake.

Take it up a long hill to the unsigned state line (a pond, pavement change and a house being slowly demolished welcome you to the Garden State). Coming the other way, there is a "Welcome to Orange County" sign.

Continue through the eastern corner of Sussex County past the AT crossing and Wawayanda State Park entrance. Eventually you reach the signs welcoming you to West Milford Township in Passaic County and, shortly thereafter, Upper Greenwood Lake itself.

Bear right onto Clinton Road just before crossing the lake. After passing through a residential neighborhood and Lake Lookover, you reach the gas pipeline easement, Abram S. Hewitt State Forest, and finally the trailhead on the left (look for blue and gold blazes) with parking opposite.

1 tiny area 2,000' NE of Terrace Pond

The blue Terrace Pond North Trail, as Mike Schwartz indicated, is the one you want. But, for the first area, it might just be better to park at the lot near the pipeline easement, a 40-foot wide swath that is obviously attractive to four-wheelers, and just follow it uphill since you'll be going that way anyway.

However you reach it, you will eventually be following the easement uphill to the ridge crest. You reach an area just above where the trail returns to the woods that you think is it, it's not. (Get used to this phenomenon, you'll be dealing with it a lot up here.)

The apparent ridge crest boasts a wonderful rock with a view north and northwest from which High Point, the Shawangunks and indeed even the Catskills could be seen on a day this clear. It would be nice if this were it, but it's not.

Looking east, you can see the easement continue about a half-mile to obviously higher ground - up and down over several of the whoop-de-doo furrows that abound on this ridge, a clear sign of the past heavy glaciation that created this landscape. This may be a lot of fun for the ATVers; for this hiker it wasn't, particularly when deep water with thin ice had collected in a few of the troughs, requiring some inventive bypassing to shallows where it was only ankle deep.

Once you get to the crest of the ridge, remember to bushwhack south as Mike says, even though the higher rocks appear to be to the north. While they were interesting and had nice views, explorations to the south about 400 feet did indeed produce higher ones (although they require getting through the mountain laurel between the fin-like striated ridges. The point he seems to be talking of is, literally, a point - a rock that reaches a sharp tip amidst a pile of giant erratics, short Class 3 climbs with exposure into crevasses that (as Dave Galvin recently put it in) won't kill you but will definitely ruin your day if you fall into them. You can't stand or even sit on this rock, it's so narrow. And it definitely seems higher than any other rocks around.

2 areas 1,000' NE of Terrace Pond

Return to the pipeline easement. Continue eastward (yes, down into the deep furrow which had the most water in it this day). Once you reach the top of the other side, you'll see the TPN trail re-emerge from the woods (look for a blue blaze on the right). This is a much quicker way of getting there than going back down to the trail.

Follow this trail almost to the pond, a glacial tarn with striking cliffs. You may have to go to the white trail junction and backtrack a hundred feet to be sure of being on the high ground of the trail. Near the high ground of the trail is a large rock outcrop, very close. Climb this, then go through the laurel to the big high outcrop above you.

This is the ridge with BM Bearfort, on the middle of three knobs (though not the highest). The highest knob, and my favorite for HP of Passaic County, is the one with the pitch pine about 60' NNE of the reference marker. If you have time for only one of these thankless areas, this is the one I'd do.

For the smaller area, I'd follow the TPN to the white (unnamed) trail that circles the pond as Mike suggests. After following the cliff tops, it detours up into the woods. On one small furrow, it takes a turn to the SW. At this point you will see high rock outcrops a couple of hundred feet off-trail to the NE. Work your way through the laurel (easier here) over to them and follow till you are satisfied of being on the highest.

3 areas 1,000' SW of Terrace Pond

I think these can be skipped, as the BM ridge definitely seems higher from here. If you must, just follow Mike's directions. Note that past the ramp area, the Terrace Pond South Trail (the yellow one) makes a zig uphill that might allow easier access to the knobs. Nice thing about these knobs, though, is that they have views to the east and southeast, including the Claridge House condos along the Watchung Ridge at the Essex highpoint, and the Manhattan skyline.

Final note: Although the TPS trail is the same as the one that leaves the parking lot, you're better off going back to the TPN via the white as the TPS trail takes a long, wide loop that needlessly lengthens the hike. I discovered this only by checking the trail map after I was too far along to turn back.