Surprise Lake Trail

West Milford, New Jersey 07480

Surprise Lake Trail

Surprise Lake Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Just about everything a hiker could want can be found on this hike. For openers, there are fabulous vistas of Greenwood Lake that stretches out like a long finger and extends from New Jersey into New York State. The lake was created when German industrialist Peter Hasenclever built a dam at nearby Long Pond to provide power for the Ringwood ironworks.

Today the lake is jam-packed with boaters and fishermen. Although the trails on this hike are strewn with boulders and walking can be a bit difficult at times, there are plenty of opportunities for rest breaks. Besides the lake you’ll pass a tiny pond and a small stream and walk under dark canopies of mature rhododendron"

Surprise Lake Trail Reviews

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Thank you for the good directions. And the blazes were ample. As an intermediate hiker and active individual, I did find some of the scrambles a bit challenging. The journey is rewarding, terrific trails that offer beautiful fauna, scenic views, and wonderful little surprises. Well worth the time. My only caution--if it has rained recently (within last day, be careful).
This hike was great. My GF and I took about 3 hours to make the complete loop. This was our first hike of the year, and our first time here. So we took it slow :) The trails were marked, but the blazes were sometimes far apart. The trails were well taken care of and well worn. The views of Greenwood Lake and every other distant mountaintop was amazing. I recommend this hike to anyone looking for a hiking adventure. Jeff,
Love this hike! strenous climb. Be sure to check out the AT for another nice view of the surrounding area.
This was probably not a good "starter" trail for us given we had not been hiking a long while. By the end, we were very tired. However, a day or two later looking back on it, it was great fun. The views are spectacular, the leaves were in full color, the temperature was autumn cool. Surprise Lake and West Pond were beautiful. The hike starts all uphill, a lot of it is along the "backbone" rocks of the ridges above Greenwood Lake. There are a number of scrambles up and down rock ridges. And, we can hardly wait to try again when the rhododendrons are in bloom. A tough and challengin trail, but lots of fun!
One of the top 3 day trip hikes in New Jersey or within 50 miles of NYC. The views on a clear day are breathtaking. Use the marina on the state line to find the trail head. On the west side of the road there is a parking lot across the street from the marina. Pull into the back of the parking lot and you will find the trail head. Trail parking here is limited to about five cars. Also, it is a steep ascent to the top. Make sure you're in shape. I recommend hiking the trail clockwise. This will allow you a view of Greenwood Lake earlier in your hike rather than at the end of the hike. The view of Greenwood Lake can be so spectacular you may never make it to Surpise Lake. Also by going clockwise, if you get tired by the ascent at least the view of Greenwood Lake with NYC in the distant horizon will be a good reward for your climb.
It can be tricky to find the trail entrance - look for the Marina parking lot on the west side of the road, and the entrance is in the back on the left. There seems to be some Park parking in the lot on the left, as well. The walk is beautiful, if rocky. The trail guide suggests a scenic aside, which isn't really necessary - you get an even better view later on without leaving the trail. I generally end my hike at Surprise Lake (or Surprise Pond, as it's sometimes called.) It's a lovely spot for a picnic or a swim, and it's not crowded at all - often it's empty.

Trail Information

West Milford
Nearby City
650 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Day hike
Dawn thru dusk
A S Hewitt State Park, c/o Wawayanda State Park
Local Contacts

Activity Feed

Jul 2018