A section of Bearfort Ridge reaches into Hewitt State Forest, offering hikers a challenging climb with a rewarding view. The forest is isolated and untouched, accessible only on foot. Marshes and wetlands are scattered throughout the forest with several brooks and streams crisscrossing the lower areas. Hemlock and oak are the dominant species of this relatively undisturbed forest.
We took the orange trail to the yellow trail to the white trail based on the map that was posted where we parked. The map was a bit deceiving. The orange trail was moderate and ended at surprise lake which was beautiful. We saw a few people on the orange trail and also at the lake where there was swimming. We did not see one person on the white trail on the way back. The white trail was more challenging than expected and also took at least an hour longer to complete than the orange trail. The yellow trail which lead from the lake to the white trail was a pretty trail. All trails were marked well.
It was a great challenge but the trees on the Bearfort Ridge trail blocked all of views. The Quail trail was unmaintained and I ended up following a creak thinking that it was a trail. But there were still great view points at the junction of the white and yellow trails and Surprise Lake was cool. I really enjoyed the challenge of the first climb.
Isabel F. on Bearfort Ridge: Surprise Lake Loop ...
Beautiful hike but ran into a timber rattlesnake today just past the first big waterfall
Heidi G. on Bearfort Ridge: Surprise Lake Loop ...
Favorite hike in NJ thus far. Breathtaking view of Greenwood Lake less than a mile in, which put us in the right mood for the rest of the adventure. Found it to be extremely well-marked, especially in comparison to Norvin Green State Forest, where we meandered for a half-hour, backtracking repeatedly (for god's sake, someone teach them how to mark trails). I will note that we did take a wrong turn at the yellow-orange junction (two somewhat similar colors), which added an extra mile to the adventure, so beware of that. However, between the vistas and the lakes and the rhododendron, this hike gave me a newfound appreciation for my home state!
Good moderate hike. We did the clockwise trail around Surprise Lake. Lots of rocky terrain, lots of markers on the trees to help keep you on the path. Great vistas to be enjoyed! Be advised - the color of the markers, and the colors of the trails are some times out of synch. For example, the map will show a purple trail, yet there are no purple markings on the trail.
An excellent moderate to strenuous hike. We did a clockwise route following the White trail to the Yellow which takes you to Surprise Lake. From Surprise Lake we took the Orange (Quail) trail back to the parking lot. The views were very good; could see the NYC skyline in the distance. There are two small parking inlets on the right side of the road. Walk from 2nd lot is a bit narrow on the main road. Also, at the first viewing site, it is easy to lose the trail so be sure to watch closely for the White markers to the right. Finished in just over 3 hours with a few short stops.
Parked along a roadside pullout and walked along a super tiny shoulder to the beginning of the path. Started on the white trail and the markers somehow turned into white circles and then into white and green squares..super confusing. After 2.5 hours we began to get nervous. Unsure whether or not we were on the correct trail, I used maps on my phone to see if we were facing the direction of Surprise Lake and hiked by that. It began to downpour which wouldn't have been an issue if we a) knew where we were going b) didn't see 3 wild turkeys (they were huge) and c) weren't on the top of a ridge with dense forest surrounding us. Finally, we met our saving grace, an avid hiker who explained to us where we should go and made sure we'd make it there alive. After finding the lake, which wasn't much of a surprise or very beautiful, we took the orange 'Quail' trail back to the entrance. My advice: if you're looking for a tough hike, take the white and loop around like we did, but try not to get as lost as we did. If you're looking for a nice day at a lake with a bunch of friends (you can swim and there was an old campfire in the area) take the Quail trail there and back. We're also pretty sure we saw bear tracks. Would never do this hike again.