Know the New Hiking How-tos
Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area
From I-80 take exit # 37 [Rockaway/Hibernia]. Turn left [north] at light. Proceed 6.3 miles to right turn onto Upper Hibernia Road at Marcella Community Club [GPS Coordinates: 40.987758, -74.474626]. Stay on Upper Hibernia Road for 2.7 miles [it becomes a dirt road] to the white gravel parking lot on right [identified with a sign].
- Alternatively, from the I-287 interchange [north or south] take Route 23 north for 8.9 miles to La Rue & Green Pond Road exit. Cross over Route 23 and go south a very short distance and take immediate right onto Green Pond Road. Go 5.1 miles south to a left turn onto Upper Hibernia Road [opposite Marcella Community Club]. Stay on Upper Hibernia Road for 2.7 miles [it becomes a dirt road] to the white gravel parking lot on right [identified with a sign].
Take I-80 West to Exit 37 (Hibernia/Rockaway). At the bottom of the ramp, turn left onto Green Pond Road (County 513). Follow Green Pond Road north for 2.8 miles and turn right onto Lower Hibernia Road. Immediately turn left into a parking area. GPS Coordinates: 40.944458, -74.493014
See migrating hawks in the spring and fall as they ride the thermals along a ridge top; view the vastness of the Farny Highlands forest resource.
Three short trails traverse the area, and they can be combined with an 0.7 section of the Four Birds Trail [white, hiking only] to form a 2.2 mile loop. The Flyway Spur Trail [orange; 0.9 mile] goes to Hawk Watch Overlook. Current topographical maps in PDF are available for download from the Table of Wildlife Management Areas
Click for a detailed description of a hike in this WMA.
- Note on mountain biking: Any trail north of Split Rock Road [Farny State Park] is for foot travel only. South of Split Rock Road [Wildcat Ridge WMA] trails are open to mountain biking, except for the Four Birds Trail.
Wildlife with wings is a characteristic feature of the 5,800-acre Wildcat Ridge WMA. At the southern end, the abandoned and barricaded Hibernia Mine is New Jersey's largest known bat hibernaculum, home to an estimated 26,000 little brown bats.
The area is also an official Hawk Migration Association of North America "hawkwatch" site. The Hawk Watch Overlook observation platform is at the end of the Flyway Spur Trail [orange; 0.9 mile]. This is a great place to see migrating hawks in the spring and fall as they ride the thermals along the ridge top. Volunteers have counted as many as 18,000 raptors during the fall, and 3,000 in the spring. As NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife writes about the area: "Even when the hawks are not soaring the view provides an otherwise hard to obtain understanding of the vastness of the Highlands forest resource and its value to hundreds of species, including humans, in northern New Jersey"
In early 2015 the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program announced the purchase of 1,500 acres of pristine watershed buffer land from Jersey City, providing permanent protection to land that surrounds the city’s Split Rock Reservoir located primarily in Morris County’s Rockaway Township
The preserved tract is a greenway connector, linking the state’s Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area, Farny State Park, and Buck Mountain. The land is primarily forested, with hiking trails and fishing access, and includes a wide range of plant and animal species –including threatened and endangered species. Click for additional details.