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Buck Mountain Loop from Camp Wyanokie
This loop hike climbs Buck Mountain, passing a number of excellent viewpoints.
Allowed on leash
Take Skyline Drive to its northwestern end at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County 511). Turn left and continue for 1.7 miles, then turn right onto West Brook Road and cross the Wanaque Reservoir on a narrow causeway. At the next T junction, turn left. In 0.5 mile, you will reach an intersection with Snake Den Road, which goes off to the left. Do not turn left here. Continue for another 2.5 miles to a second intersection with Snake Den Road (marked by a large sign on the right, and shown on the Trail Conference map, but not on the sign, as "Snake Den Road West"). Turn left here onto Snake Den Road, cross a bridge over a stream, and continue for 0.8 mile to Camp Wyanokie. Park on the right side of the road, between a dumpster and a water pump.
From the parking area, continue ahead on Snake Den Road, passing Boy Scout Lake to the left. You are following the red-on-white blazes of the Wyanokie Circular Trail, which continues through a residential area.
At the end of the residential area, follow the red-and-white blazes as they bear left, leaving the road, and continue on a footpath. After crossing a stream, the trail begins to climb, first gently, then more steeply.
Near the top, it passes rock ledges to the left and reaches a trail junction. To the right, three yellow blazes mark the start of the Wyanokie Crest Trail; to the left, a pink blaze marks the start of the Will Monroe Loop. Proceed ahead, continuing to follow the red-on-white blazes, and descend. The trail soon passes through an open area, with views to the right over Buck Mountain. It continues to descend, then climbs a little to cross a rocky woods road. A short distance beyond, it passes to the left of a huge split glacial erratic and continues to climb past more erratics. After a short descent, you'll cross a woods road - the route of the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail.
Continue ahead on the Wyanokie Circular Trail, which ascends on a footpath through dense mountain laurel thickets. At a large boulder at the crest of the rise, the red-on-white blazes turn left, but you should bear right, now following the orange-blazed Outlaw Trail. The Outlaw Trail heads across the level ridge and ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Wyanokie Crest Trail. Turn right and follow this trail, which emerges in a third of a mile onto two viewpoints overlooking Buck Mountain. After descending through dense mountain laurel, the trail crosses a stream on rocks and reaches a junction with the light-green-blazed Otter Hole Trail.
Continue ahead, following the yellow blazes (and the Highlands Trail's teal-diamond blazes), which descend to cross another stream on rocks. The trail now begins a very steep climb to an east-facing viewpoint from the ledges of Buck Mountain, with the New York City skyline visible in the distance. Just beyond, the trail turns left onto a woods road and crosses over to the western side of the mountain. It soon reaches a second viewpoint - marked by a large pine tree wedged into the bedrock - which faces south and west, with Torne Mountain visible ahead..
Continue along the Wyanokie Crest Trail as it heads north through laurel, passing several huge boulders. Soon, the Highlands Trail departs to the left, and then the Wyanokie Crest Trail joins a woods road that comes in from the right. After several turns, the trail climbs gently to level off along the ridge of Buck Mountain. The trail reaches the highest elevation in the Wyanokies (1,245 feet), but there are no views from this wooded spot..
In half a mile, the Wyanokie Crest Trail comes out at another east-facing viewpoint over Assiniwikam Mountain. It now begins a gradual descent into a broad valley, where it parallels a brook, crossing it several times. The last crossing of the brook is marked by an unusual split boulder. The trail continues across undulating terrain for about half a mile, crossing a well-used woods road. .
After climbing a rocky slope, the Wyanokie Crest Trail ends at a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Wyanokie Circular Trail. Turn left and follow the Wyanokie Circular Trail back to your car.