Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch Trail

MODERATE 65 reviews

Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch Trail is a 7.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Rockaway, New Jersey that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

7.9 miles
1128 feet

dog friendly



mountain biking

nature trips

trail running





wild flowers


Pleasant walk to excellent overlook at the Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch This hike starts where the white blazed 4 Birds Trail crosses Splitrock Rd. Take this trail south, where it begins to a series of ups and downs over sometimes rocky terrain and eventually reaches the hawk watch platform where there are excellent views (you probably won't be alone here on a nice day). Leaving the hawk watch, double back on the white trail for a short distance, then turn right onto an unmarked, but distinct woods road. Follow this to an intersection with a blue blazed trail, turning right onto it. This trail is interesting as it passes several glacial erratics along the way and eventually reaches Split Rock Rd. Turn left on Split Rock Rd and take it back to your car.

5 days ago

I have hiked this trail 3 times over the past month. Great hike with my two water loving labradors.

3 months ago

I've been coming to these trails after work for the past few years. There are many side trails, and it has been a pleasure exploring them all. There are many dilapidated stone buildings and walls hidden in the brush that make you think back to when the mining works were in full swing. You can link these trails to create a different hike every time you come. Great training for my 2017 AT thru hike.

3 months ago

I parked at the Split Rock boat launch, walked across the dam to find the yellow trail on the left (immediately after crossing the dam), and followed it for approximately 2.75 miles until I hit a narrow gravel road. The yellow trail is very well marked, but it can get a little tricky when it overlaps Upper Hibernia Rd and a few small parking lots. Keep a sharp eye out and you should be fine. Swung a left onto the narrow gravel road to take a more direct route to the lookout. I believe it's a maintenance road to access some kind of electrical or cell phone tower. In all, it was 3 miles from where I parked, while a very relaxed and gradual elevation increase. The lookout was awesome! I then took the white trail back-- definitely more of a workout (frequent ups and downs in elevation). Eventually it links back up with the yellow trail and takes you back to Splitrock Reservoir! I also branched off at one point off the White trail to check out Beaver Pond (red trail). All in all, it was a 6 mile hike and was very fun!

4 months ago

The hike was wonderful! We lost the suggested trail 6 times. Trail markers started as yellow then orange, then blue then none at all, then white and finally yellow. Very easy to miss a turn. If we did not have a phone with a gps we would still be out there. The hike is worth it, just be prepared.

5 months ago

I went with my 2 dogs and 2 teenage sons. Started at lower hibernia road, bat caves and cemetery were cool. The lookout was awesome, but wish there was a loop. There are SOOOO many extra trails here, need to pay attention.

6 months ago

GPS: I went to Lower Hibernia road instead. Right when you turn on to the road the trail head is immediately to your left.

Took the white trail around, and partial parts of the Yellow to make it a full loop. Good hike, decent elevation change. Can be made a 20+ mile loop when you connect it to split rock trails around the lake.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Awesome hike! Simple and easy. The direction here leads you to another place.. but I actually parked at the 'main' entrance (?) where the welcome sign is by Green Pond Rd, if that helps. And from there, we just kept on following the Orange trail.

Breathtaking view! Didn't think it was that high haha. You'll see a very open and beautiful view. Makes the hike worth it.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Good easy trail to Hawk Ridge if you follow the orange trail. Good for kids.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Beautiful hike with an absolutely breathtaking overlook. The terrain was pretty easy. Towards the end we made our own trail down the side of the mountain. Definitely something you can go down but I would not suggest trying to go up that way.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Here is the tricky thing about this trail. If you use the GPS from this app it will take you down Split Rock Road, which has no/prohibits parking. The trail from this road does enter you on the White Dot trail. This trail is long and scenic, great woodland views and a few running creeks at the right times. Ultimately this trail from this entrance will bring you to the Hawk Watch point. However, if you are trying to find the Bat Cave or the Cemetery, this is not where you want to be. The Bat Cave and the Cemetery are off of "Lower Hibernia Road" in Rockaway. Just enter "Lower Hibernia Road" in your GPS. You can't miss the Wildcat Ridge parking lot marked by a large brown sign. Enter the trail and follow the White Dot trail. Once on the trail, the bat cave will be off to the right up a small hill. Can't miss it. The Cemetary is up a little further while on the White Dot trail. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Great trail. Along the creek, but no proper trail markers makes it hard to enter the trail. Once we made it from the parking lot it was great fun for kids and adults alike.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Started out at the south end of the Four Birds Trail (White Trail) and hiked all the way up to the Hawkwatch overlook, an approximate distance of 2.5 miles. Took a little over an hour or so. Lots of up hill climbing, big boulders to go around, and nice streams and ponds every now and then. Hawkwatch overlook was nice. Saw a few people there looking for hawks and hanging out. Continued north for about another mile on Four Birds Trail (White Trail) and turned west onto the Red Trail. Hiked it for about another mile or so and turned back down south once we got to the Orange Trail which took us back to the south end of the Four Birds Trail. Approximate total distance 6 miles total. Make sure to bring a map if you decide to follow this path as Orange Trail is not marked going south (it is, however, marked going towards the Hawkwatch.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

There's an abandoned cemetery in the woods!!! Need I say more? This trails a 5 out of 5! Turn right at all the little dirt paths you see and look for the cemetery on the right. It's less then 3 miles in. Compass coordinates to entrance of cemetery (Lat, Long) 40.55'11"N, 74.33'44"W

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013

Area is under construction...stay away from trail. A simple walk by the reservoir satisfied the need for beauty. Trail is poorly marked and terrain is rocky making the trail unappealing. Skip trail and just walk near reservoir. Maybe someone improve trail after construction is over. A local worker said the road would be "closed for a year" at some point soon.
Bruce B

Monday, September 17, 2012

The trail was clean for the most part, the terrain was enjoyable, and the view from the Hawk Watch is incredible. Great expanse of New Jersey and the NYC skyline. Whoever blazed the trail was definitely having an off day though. Turn markers where there is no need (even if the trail were covered in leaves) and a lack of turn markers where there should be (even if the trail is clean). All in all definitely a great hike, but I wouldn't trust the maps provided there and I would make sure to bring a gps / natgeo map / somebody who has done the hike. Several unmarked trails / roads don't help. I would go again though. Bring a lunch! You'll want to stay at the top a while.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I followed the blue trail most of the way instead of the white trail. Challenging by moment. Nice overall. WATCH OUT for the TiCKS

Monday, March 07, 2011

This is a nice, moderate trail that is conducive even to those who don't hike much or at all - as long as they take their time. The trailhead is in the midst of the industrial ruins left by the 18th-20th century Hibernia iron mines, crosses the mine cut, and ends and a very nice vista. If you pick the right time of year, you can view the raptor migrations, and you may even get the assistance of one of the people who count and identify the types of hawks. Even outside of migrations, raptors love to cruise the thermals here. If possible, find someone to explain/interpret the mining ruins/remnants. These were major and historical mines.

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