Bearfort Ridge: Surprise Lake Loop Trail

MODERATE 128 reviews

Bearfort Ridge: Surprise Lake Loop Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Hewitt, New Jersey that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.0 miles
1,213 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running





wild flowers



2 months ago

Easy hike but verrrryyy muddy. Had to scoot across a fallen tree at one point to get across the water. Be prepared to have some wet feet if you don’t have waterproof boots. Enjoy lunch at the lake and be sure to look for the city skyline at various lookouts on the trail. We did see a small black snake right on the trail which was more scared us of but just something to be aware of.

2 months ago

We went clockwise on the loop and enjoyed the first half of the loop. The return part of the trail was really wet making it difficult and not as much fun.

3 months ago

Challenging but not too challenging. Great trail!

4 months ago

awesome trek. Buggy lower part. So worth it.

4 months ago

this hike was wonderful but the alltrail map was wrong and you will get lost if you try to follow it. furthermore it is listed as a 6 mile hike if you follow their loop it is 8 miles.

5 months ago

One of my favorite hikes within 2 hrs of NYC. Beautiful, peaceful, varied terrain, at times challenging (although never daunting), good views of Greenwood Lake, and a nice visit to Surprise Lake. You will see other hikers but the trail is just difficult enough that there are unlikely to be major crowds, and most of your time on the path will be in isolation unless walking directly in front of or behind another group. The majority of people are up in the north end of the park closer to the lake, since there is another entrance up there for the shorter Surprise Lake Loop.

If doing the whole route starting from the south end, side of the road parking available near intersection of Warwick Turnpike and White Rd. Path can be done clockwise or counter-clockwise. Clockwise (walking west and then north on the white trail to start) puts the steepest part of the hike first, and you go uphill for it. Counterclockwise (keep right and go north on orange trail) leaves steepest part for the end and is downhill. I'd recommend Clockwise.

The path of the loop as currently marked on the alltrails website is a little confusing, because it appears to run north/south in between Surprise Lake and West Pond. However if you look at the maps available at the trailheads (as well the map available on alltrails for the Surprise Lake Loop) you will see that the yellow trail actually runs around outside of and around West Pond. So either the map listed here is representing some shortcut trail that I couldn't find and is not listed on the official park map, or the actual route is a much wider loop at the top and I would guess the whole trail is closer to 7.25 miles instead of the 6.6 listed. Maybe someone who is very familiar with this park can comment and clarify.

Trail is for the most part well marked and maintained. Only tricky part is if going counter clockwise and turning onto yellow path up north near the NJ/NY state line, the turn on to the yellow was only marked on the ground instead of at eye-level and can be missed if not on the lookout.

The path was fine in the summer a couple days after a storm, but I could imagine the trail being very difficult in the snow or soon after heavy rains.

6 months ago

Best hike ever. Exhausted!!!

6 months ago

Highly recommend. Did just a portion because if time constraints. However will return and complete.

8 months ago

did it late Summer 2017. Rock scrambles. if you come early you can find parking on Warwick Turnpike in West Milford/Hewitt near White Road. Be equipped - hiking shoes, sticks, water, and be aware.

8 months ago

Wonderful hike just an hour drive from NYC. Proper hiking shoes definitely help with especially climbing or walking down the rocks. The yellow trail has the best views. The trail has minimal traffic and is very quiet and peaceful.

9 months ago

Top 5 views for an nyc area hike

9 months ago

Challenging, but not too taxing. A steady pace uphill. Good for a nice day trip. You can hang up around the lake with a hammock.

11 months ago

Beautiful area, easier travel. Some spots are steeper, but nothing of much difficulty. Can't wait to see it in early spring/ summer.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Took the white trail up to lookout then yellow trail to surprise lake. It was one of the best hikes I have taken this year and sure to go again. Was unable to pick up the orange trail to get back so ended up on blue trail to Greenwood Lake which was worth the extra hike yesterday.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

One of my favorite hikes! Great workout (initial hour or so is all uphill and pretty rocky. Doable, but we take breaks), gorgeous views including NYC skyline and an expanse of GWL, and not many people on the trail. There are two spots that I've found more difficult with my large dogs (one involves lifting/ lowering dogs and requires two adults) but there may be walk arounds - that I haven't found. Love reaching the highest point and having lunch while feeling accomplished.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

So pretty amd good views throughout.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Man I love this hike.

This hike is located right by the more popular Terrace Pond hike, and offers all the positives of that hike, but generally with way less people.

The beginning of this hike is the hardest part, and is no joke. The first hour is steady steady elevation gain. Once you get to the first viewpoint you level off a bit however. While the ridge along the bear fort trail is less inclined, it is very interesting with light scrambling throughout.

I highly recommend turning left once the bearfort trail ends and taking the yellow, Earnest Walter trail. A stop at West Pond is a must. I like this spot more than the popular Lake Surprise which will come later.

Continue the loop connecting with the AT and Stateline (blue) trail before some more scrambling on the Earnest Walter. The amazing views as you climb the mountain on the EW looking to Greenwood lake are unbelievable.

Surprise lake is a nice spot to take in some more awesome scenery. Then head to the Orange Qual Trail and head back. Keep a heads up on the Orange trail here. It can be very tough to follow if you aren't paying serious attention. The quai trail, while much easier than the other trails, can be very rocky and at this point you are most likely a little fatigued. Be careful on the rocks, as they can be some serious ankle turners.

Eventually meet back to the bearfort trail and head back to your car. What a hike!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Beautiful trail! The trailhead is right on the road, but the sign is slightly set back so you might not see it at first. The beginning has a few tough climbs and rock scrambles, but totally manageable. Highly recommend taking a quick look along the yellow trail after Surprise Lake, there are two beautiful vistas there. A few nice views, lots of cool changes in terrain, glacial erratics and hemlock groves. Beautiful foliage in mid-October.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

half way through(yesterday).

i think we accidentally went right after the white blazes ended (we started on Warwick, took blue blaze to white, and stayed on white. instantly was a bit challenging. First year hikers). So we may have missed out.

i think i will do this trail again but start on Orange, get to yellow, and loop yellow. Just to enjoy more.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Excellent trail with beautiful views.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Quiet trail and good exercise for a half day hiking.
The view fir Greenwood lake is wonderful.
If you want to save time, start from Lakeside.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Charming and a little bit challenging - be prepared and use NYNJ Trail Conference pdf map 116 for easiest navigation :)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nice trail you need to pay attention so you catch all the turns but had a great time launch by the lake

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The rock looks like marble. Not many views, just a small lake. I don't quite like the long downhill, which hurts my feet, especially my toe so much that the hurts last more than 1 week....

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Great hike! Was quiet when I got there about 9 am on a Sunday morning. By about 12:30-1 pm as I was coming back down the trail started to get busy. Challenging but fun hike. Will be even more beautiful in the summer and fall when the leaves are on the trees. It's a bit soggy and slippery in place so wear good hiking shoes/boots.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Great trails, with varied terrain. Rock scrambles, ridge lines, intersects the AT, great views of Greenwood lake, many streams to cross. About as good as it gets for a hike! Excited to do this again in the summer when everything is green. We parked at the coordinates provided by this All Trails map, and did Orange>Yellow Blue>White. Orange was pretty swamped in places after all the rain and melting snow, but still manageable. Boots recommended. Took about 4 hours, not rushing and stopping for lunch.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Beautiful hike... there was flooding on the majority of the trails but were still passable. We started on the white trail, challenging but fun. Then the yellow to Surprise lake and the orang to the end . Most of the orange trail was flooded and there were areas where we have to take a detour but they were passable.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Could not find the parking area based on the AllTrails directions. Parked on Warwick Turnpike instead. Did hike counter clockwise. Trail was pretty rocky and challenging. Coming back on the Yellow Trail there was a rock ledge that I actually had to use hand holds to pull myself up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Went counter-clockwise. Some great views on the northern edges of the trail -- and the lake's really nice. It's peak season right now for the trees too. Truly wonderful. Go ahead, get lost and have a day at it.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

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.

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