Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake Loop Trail

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Walpack Fish and Wildlife Management Area

Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake Loop Trail is a 6.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Layton, New Jersey that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 6.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,453 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

over grown

rocky

Note: the gate to get to the waterfall near the cemetery is currently CLOSED. May have to walk about a mile before the actually hike listed here. Please consult the park's website before visiting. This loop has a little of everything. Waterfalls, ravines, valley walking, steep climb, ridge walking, views and a bushwhack. Users have noted that access to the trailhead may require a 4WD vehicle. During icy conditions the road leading to the trailhead may be closed.

hiking
rocky
1 day ago

Parking lot was still closed yesterday so it is about a 2 mile walk in from the Walpack Cemetery. Great hike overall that’s steep at parts. Hiking boots strongly recommended. Beware on Hemlock Pond there are a large number of snakes on the rock that juts out onto the water including a water snake and a timber rattlesnake which is highly poisonous! Would definitely do this hike again so much amazing wildlife! Loved it!

Very beautiful lake that can be reached, but does require quiet a hike. Well worth it though, just know you’ll feel it the next day ! :)

4 days ago

Best part of this hike is the beginning! There is a one mile walk before the trail starts because the lot is gated off, however it's flat and fairly interesting with small falls and old buildings to look at. Falls are right at the trailhead (they're great!) and we loved the arduous two miles up. That said, the rest was just alright in comparison. Definitely would download this map. There are many intersecting trails that are unmarked here and on the state forest map!

hiking
5 days ago

Be prepared for a 12 mile hike. The closest parking is at the cemetery, so we had to walk two miles to get to the trail(and an additional two miles to get back to the car). We did the main part of the trail counterclockwise and the crater lake loop trail clockwise. The main trail passed by beautiful marsh, another lake, and mountainous views. We ran into trouble while going around crater lake loop. We had to follow the white trail, which was poorly marked. Be prepared for some intense rock scrambling if you choose to go this route. This part is definitely not for beginners. Bring a ton of water(!) , bug spray, and sunscreen if you go. We also saw a bear near the entrance so bring bear spray if you have it. The trail, alone, took 3.5 hours to do. Pretty crowded near the waterfalls but that quickly dispersed as we ascended the trail. Definitely a good, strenuous workout.

hiking
bugs
scramble
9 days ago

We went today and the lot was OPEN. We got there around 830 am and we were the only ones there. Seemed to be a little more crowded on our way back down. This trail was fun! Hard incline in the beginning, but it flattened out for the rest of the hike. Bring bug spray!

hiking
13 days ago

Very nice loop. Many people already praised the hike. I'm just going to add some more practical info here: Mountain Road is closed to cars (May 2020), so you can either park between Route 615 and Haneys Mill Rd, or at the other end of Mountain Rd (at the Wallpack Cemetery). From both side it's about 1.6 - 2.0 mi flat road to the falls. At the falls the BLUE trail is very steep for the first mile (discouraged to go if don't have good hiking shoes), then it gets better. The Appalachian Trail is just gorgeous, flat and easy hike all the way down to Crater Lake. At Crater Lake you take the ORANGE trail that goes around the lake. The South-west part of this route is a bit confusing since it tells you to go back to the Appalachian trail, but you can keep follow the orange marks to around a ridge on a easier route (it'll go back to the Appalachian trail). I think we missed the right turn to the white trail up to the steep part of the ridge... The rest is exactly as in the map. Before leaving the Hemlock Pond, there's a wonderful spot on the dam at the west side of the pond. You can sit on the rock and enjoy the view, the fish, but don't get too scared of the water snakes (if you spot one, remember: they are more afraid of you than you of them). Woods road is not marked in many maps (weird), but it's very well marked on the trees, mostly flat and shady. Then at the junction with the BLUE trail, you just hike back down to the fall and back to wherever you parked your car. If you park at the Wallpack Cemetery, it's about 11.4 mi. Have Epsom salt ready at home after the hike. Your feet will gladly appreciate.

hiking
13 days ago

Great Trail! Beautiful views. Heavily wooded and secluded. Plenty of places to rest a long the way...I recommend bringing a sweatshirt as it gets a little chilly and damp under the redwood trees. It was quiet a climb up the water fall...loved it!

hiking
24 days ago

Good trail for burning some serious calories. As others have said, this hike is mostly challenging for the first section on the way up and the last section on the way down. Lots of access points to both lakes along the trails so you can find your own slice of lake for some much earned relaxation. Covid-era word of warning: If a lack of respect for your personal space and unleashed dogs are going to bother you, I’d recommend going on a weekday or at an off time. The first part of the trail from buttermilk falls to the Appalachian Trail was beyond heavily trafficked.

hiking
rocky
scramble
27 days ago

Upon arrival nature welcomes you with a beautiful waterfall. Great trail has a little bit of every trail condition most could want. It will go from hard to moderate for the first mile and a half but then it gets easier once you get to the AT and around the lakes . Beautiful place to hike and stop for lunch on the rocks overlooking the beautiful lakes. Many options once you hit the AT to make the hike longer. I would recommend you wear good hiking boots and bring bug spray. Some areas were heavily wooded and had rocky and narrow paths while other areas the path was wider. Not a hike for first time hikers. During Covid season be prepared to hike a mile or so before the trail. It was supposed to be closed when we got there but we got lucky and they were forced to remain open because early risers snuck into trail parking area to park so not a guarantee gate will be open when you arrive. Hiked on 4/25/2020.

Great trail! Gorgeous and challenging. Hard to access during shelter in.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

The road to get to the trail head where the falls are was closed so as other reviews have mentioned that adds about 2 miles in each direction and about 1hr extra round trip. This was a great hike that had a little bit everything and loved the loops around different lakes, will definitely come back when it's warm enough to swim! The only difficult part of this hike is the very beginning section as it is very steep and rocky. This only lasts about 30-40 mins though and the rest of the hike is fairly flat.

hiking
closed
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

This trail was definitely very rocky in some parts. It goes on a strong incline going up and down but once you get going it flattens out. Brings you past hemlock lake and has a beautiful spot for lunch. I did the trail backwards and it was shorter going down that way!

So far my favorite hike in New Jersey. Buttermilk Falls is lovely and the beginning of the hike is a nice steep section followed by a rambling walk through the hills.

I had to park by the Walpack cemetery (the road to the falls was closed) which means a bonus of 1.8 miles to the trail and 1.8 miles to get back. After 30 minutes of easy fast paced walk I reached the falls and the start of the trail. The trail hits you with some really steep steps; the first mile is hard: the trail is very steep, and the terrain has lots of rocks, boulders and roots. Then you intersect to Wood Trail: piece of cake. Nice, gentle and beautiful walk in the woods. You get to a couple of beautiful lakes, where you can sit and have a rest or bite, then on the Appalachian Trail. At a certain point you must make a sharp left back to the Blue Trail, which will lead you to the steps and the falls. This final section of the blue trail is EXTREMELY rocky and steep so boots are a must. Overall, beautiful hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Completed on a gorgeous spring day on 3/8/20. I started late in the day (1:30 pm) and miraculously found parking close to the road closure (the parking area about a mile down is a decent size beyond that once the road opens). However the sketchiest part of the drive is actually immediately after the one lane bridge with giant, wet potholes all over the road. Still, my little low-clearance Prius made it with minimal yikes-moments and noises of scratching the underbelly. All told, the hardest part was the first hour up to the AT from the blue trail (about 2 miles). Your waterfall views are only at the very beginning of this, so it’s nice to sit on a rock afterward and just rest at the end. The lakes are gorgeous and it’s worth heading counterclockwise once you get to the Crater lake region (continue on the AT, the follow the orange blazes and climb down into the ravine, the rest of the way is flat and gradual). I had the whole lake region to myself and I wish I would’ve lingered longer. Be careful once you get to the blue/green blazes with the other lake. I followed the blue blazes by accident and walked a mile in the wrong direction because I was so engrossed in the beauty of the day. It doesn’t even feel like Jersey; easily could’ve been a west coast hike. Even with the extra two miles, I finished by 5:30 or so, and while that was a little rushed, I’d add another hour to just relax more (I.e, bank about 5 hours total, more if you want to swim at the lake when the weather is warm). So your primary views are the lakes and the waterfall, but the seclusion and the easy trail after the two mile buttermilk falls section made for a pleasant day that I would definitely do again.

Great hike for March 1st! Cold, but sunny. A perfect day!

4 months ago

Great Hike! Off season the road is closed so youll have to walk 1.8 miles to the trailhead...be ready for a little warm up. The falls are beautiful, the stairs will take you to the top...duhh. If you want a challange keep going up...hard but worth it. ...and youll leave all the people behind #bonus!

hiking
muddy
rocky
4 months ago

Amazing hike and good workout. Well maintained stairs in the beginning of the hike, but rest of the way up is rocky. There are multiple trails that intersect that are not marked on this map, so pay attention to markers. Waterfall is beautiful and be careful on the way back down due to slippery and lose rocks. Note: gate was closed to the road to get to the waterfall near the cemetery. May have to walk about a mile before the actually hike listed here. I believe it closes in the winter time because of the road being not well maintained.

hiking
scramble
6 months ago

Great trail! Went in mid-may and had a close call with a rattlesnake. Definitely watch your step and keep your ears open for rattling sounds.

hiking
6 months ago

Great for a trail run!

recorded Recording - Oct 25, 02:57 PM

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

Buttermilk Falls is so pretty! SUCH a workout! Straight incline up the falls then a bunch of hills and valleys. Really pretty trail! Couldn't finish because of how late we got there but would love to come back and complete.

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